When There is No Travel


May 11, 2020

It has now been five months since I traveled to Nepal and India and almost that long since my last blog. It is not likely that travel is in the cards for most of us in the coming months. Today I would have been exploring the Acropolis in Athens, then sailing the Greek Islands. But it is not to be. Like the rest of the world, I am isolating in my home. So what to do with a travel blog when there is no travel? I offer a poor substitute I’m afraid. I wrote the piece below as part of a writing prompt exercise, while at a writers’ yoga retreat in Lenox, Massachusetts a few years ago. So in a way there is a tenuous connection to travel. The facilitator gave us the three sentences: 1)This is what life does; 2)I don’t want to be anywhere else; 3)What matters now.

We were given 15 minutes to write as much as we could in response to those three prompts. Not a lot of time. Now, many of us have more time than we can fill. If the prompts inspire you, please write your own responses, or even stories, as your time allows….just for yourself. And if you’re feeling especially generous, please share your work in a comment.
Stay safe, be well.
*****

This is what life does….
It sends you hurtling out of your mothers womb one day and drops you into a brightly lit white room. Someone slaps your tiny wet behind, snips the cord of life, and wraps you into the arms of your mother.

This is what life does….
It makes you fall in love and breaks your heart. It places you where you need to be or where you shouldn’t be. I needed to be feeding my dying father as tremors wracked his body and he couldn’t hold a spoon to his mouth.

This is what life does….
It brings you summer days when teenage girls ride in cars with boys, roll down all the windows and sing Beach Boys songs, off key and loud. It brings you snowy winter days when you trudge up the steepest hill in town, dragging your chipped and dented sled behind. You wonder if the screaming seconds long ride down the hill is worth the tortuous 15 minute climb up. But you do it again and again.

This is what life does….
It teaches you that you really never use algebra ever again in real life. It teaches you that history is actually important, not the dates and names and memorization, but the lessons for humanity.

This is what life does….
It gives you trials and tragedies, love and loss, joy and adventure. Some of these last seconds and others a lifetime. But you do it again and again because this is what life does.

I don’t want to be anywhere else…..
I always want to be in the place where I happen to be. It is the place that changes, not my desire to be there.

I am sitting in an open vehicle as it speeds through the African bush. The only light is from the jeep’s powerful headlights and the shimmering stars above. I am wrapped in warm clothes, huddled under a blanket, losing hope that the lion will show himself tonight. Suddenly the beam catches a golden mound of fur. And there they are…not just the king of the jungle, but the queen and three little princes. They look up sleepily at us, these nocturnal intruders.

I don’t want to be anywhere else…..
I am sitting in the first pew of a tiny cathedral. My son is standing tall, his arms outstretched, holding the quivering hands of the woman with whom he’ll share the future. He has come so far, and Nathalie has enriched his soul. I will stay behind.

I don’t want to be anywhere else…..
I’m sitting in a café along Rue de Marques. Tiny blossoms from a line of cherry trees flitter across the table top. Chic Parisians stroll past in their smartly tied scarves, scurry down into the bowels of the Metro. I snap open my computer and begin to write. Ernest Hemingway once said that when he was writing in Paris he always stopped for the day at a point where he knew he would start the next day. I am no Hemingway and I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to be anywhere else.

What matters now…..
Is that this work, these hours spent with writers, the silence, the movement and meditation, the walks in nature take me another inch closer to the goal, or send me sideways to another place, wherever that is.

What matters now…..
Is that there is always progress, healing, insight, and paths to peace. Standing still is only to listen to the voice within, but movement is what keeps me alive. Even a fish will drown if it is still for too long.

What matters now…..
Is being my best self. Helping without judgement or pity. Sending my own inner judge to hell and thanking God for his love and care regardless of how flawed I am.

What matters now…..
Is the child I have and one I have lost. I live my life to make each proud, one in heaven and one on earth.