Thursday, June 25, 2009

J'ecris (I Write)

“It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, who may not be who we essentially are.”
--Alain de Botton The Art of Travel

I’m at the stage of my life where I could settle comfortably into the routine of my life, knowing that even if I did change the furniture it still would not change me. Or, I can hit the road to discover who I am or who I want to be. I’ve always loved to travel and my husband, Brad, has been a great partner in that pursuit. As each year passes, though, I’m getting better at finding my own way to travel. I hit the road for places near and far just because. This spring I talked my sister, Melinda, into making a quick day trip from St. Louis to Paducah, KY to see a special exhibit by my neighbor and master quilter, Suzanne Marshall. When I mentioned that to someone later in the week she said with an incredulous tone, “You did that? In one day?” as if the six hour round trip (plus three hours at the museum and lunch) was the equivalent in endurance of crossing the ice caps at the North Pole on dogsled. And just as insane. But a short trip can fill the soul and make a hard week go down smooth. It fills us with new sensations and brings us a step closer to learning what we love.

I value the longer trips like the one Brad and I are about to undertake because they shake you completely out of your routine. It gives you a chance to discover new routines and try out new rhythms in your life. Visiting a French market makes you fall in love with cooking all over again (or for the first time). Living without a car teaches you to slow down and teaches you that you don’t need more stuff than you can carry in a shopping bag. You find out how other parts of the world work and play. You may not understand it and you may not love it always, but it does get you to examine the patterns and priorities of your own life. It shakes you out of complacency.

Of course, I can’t ignore the obvious metaphor that as I travel through the world I’m traveling through my own life. So as I prepare to spend the month of July in Dijon again, what better time to live out loud and invite all my friends and family along for the ride. See the lovely town of Dijon, explore the Burgundy countryside with us, spend a few days in Paris. And when the month is over, keep coming back because I’m not going to stop writing. There are other places to help me discover who I essentially am. It may be in books I read, or music I listen to, or in the daylilies I tend in my garden, or along the sidewalks in my neighborhood that my dogs and I stroll through. Travel with me through this stage of my life. Invite your friends.

Until the posting really begins, check out the links (albums on the right) to some past travels and look for some of my other writing in the Creative Caffeine blog.

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