On Going a Journey
Sometimes, I'll open a book when I feel lost. I always think that maybe whatever page I come to will give me something deep and insightful which will be exactly what I need to read at that moment. That doesn't really happen, though, because life is not always like a movie, and because you can't just sit around and wait for things to fall into your lap, and also because that's what the the Table of Contents is for.
So, as I skimmed the titles included in one of my favorite anthologies, I came across a piece by William Hazlitt called On Going a Journey*,and the title stood out to me because, while I may not always know the way, I do recently feel like I'm on some sort of journey.
"The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do, just as one pleases. We go a journey chiefly to be free of all impediments and of all inconveniences; to leave ourselves behind... It is because I want a little breathing-space to muse on indifferent matters, where Contemplation
'May plume her feathers and let grow her wings,
That in the various bustle of resort
Were all too ruffled, and sometimes impair'd,'
that I absent myself from the town for a while, without feeling at a loss the moment I am left by myself."
But to look at this time of uncertainty, this journey--where my beloved dog grows old, and Rob and I manage to grow closer even though we are further away from each other than ever--as liberty, perfect liberty, and to use it as an opportunity to make my life exactly what I want it to be? That's something I hadn't yet thought of, and it's powerful.
"Give me the clear blue sky over my head, and the green turf beneath my feet, and a winding road before me, and a three hours' march to dinner--and then to thinking!"
*On Going a Journey and a whole lot of other awesome essays can be found in Phillip Lopate's The Art of the Personal Essay, which is a huge collection that I am glad to own.