My daughter and I just returned from Ireland. Yes, Ireland is beautiful, friendly and the roads are small and curvy. As travelers we were strangers in a strange land. As such, we approached each encounter and person with curiosity and respect. Traveling slowed us down. Not just driving on the “wrong” side of the road, from the “wrong” side of a car (with a stick shift on my left); being a stranger in a new place slowed me down. Everyone and everything was unfamiliar.
A good traveler relies on attentiveness (Lydia navigated our entire trip; it took two to drive through country and city). When in another country we are wise to be attentive, curious, cautious, not drag out any disagreements or unpleasantries if they arise (they did not), be tolerant, and patient with others and yourself.
This journey reminds me that it is wise to travel through our entire life as wanderers in a strange, unfamiliar land. In our writing and our life, we benefit from changing things up, moving forward and relating to the familiar as a traveler.
Since life is a journey, and we are all wanderers, everyone (especially family and friends) can be met as if we are encountering them newly. When we let go of thinking we “know” this person, we allow ourselves to see and experience them as the stranger they are.
We can approach our writing as a traveler too — each line carrying us forward into new and unexpected territory. We can let go of forcing words on the page and travel from scene to scene as a wanderer, attentive and curious. We can discover what’s happening in this scene or story by maintaining a traveler’s attentiveness and generosity.
Once we think we know something or someone we may abandon the attitude of the wanderer and become careless. (I know I have been careless with those I claim to love the most).
The above image are on the roads in Dublin to prevent us travelers from stepping into oncoming traffic. Sometimes the oncoming traffic was a large, double-decker tour bus.
What would it mean to approach our writing and encounters less habitually? What would it be like to not enter into things or cross streets compulsively? Can we ask ourselves more often: What is unusual about this particular situation? How can we approach our writing as a wanderer? How can we greet each other as travelers and strangers welcoming in new experiences?
As we drove through southern Ireland, with the help of a GPS, we found places that were hidden treasures, such as Uragh Stone Circle. This place is not in the tourist books.
We also ended up on mountain passes and roads that we would not have discovered if we stuck rigidly to a plan or map. Since everything was unfamiliar, everywhere we found ourselves was simply part of our travels.
Just so, sitting on my deck this morning for my meditation practice I saw out as a traveler and witnessed the place newly.
All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
–David Whyte from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press
Welcome traveler! Meet up with other writers at my open writer’s retreat August 5th or in my Transformational Writing Circle which is coming up soon! I also have room in my Keep It Simple Writers’ Circle.