There & back Again: how I wandered into my own second chapter

April 10, 2022

 


There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.
You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always
quite the something you were after.” - J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit


Some travel to find themselves while others wander simply because they must; and some of us happen upon both at once.


Back in January as I was perusing Airbnb and allowing myself to get carried off in dreamy clouds of travel grandeur, a charming little listing in Murfreesboro, TN caught my eye: a hobbit hole. There is a certain kind of magic that comes from being immersed in nature, even more from being immersed in a story.


This small hut made of mud sat quietly in the woods as part of large property shared with a wedding venue. The photos looked charming, cozy, and inviting. I had been mulling over the idea of a solo trip for a few weeks and wanted to plan something for the near future. April seemed like the perfect time to go: the divorce would be well past final, I’d be hopefully coming into my own a little more, and it would be spring. The promise of warm weather is always strong bait for me. However, Tennessee springs are anything but predictable. (Spoiler alert: it was most definitely not warm. I pretended it was anyway.) 

 

 

 

I checked the booking calendar and chose a random Friday in early April that happened to be available and worked perfectly in sync with my new work schedule. It was as if this unassuming listing quite literally found me, and was inviting me to come wander, simply for the sake of wandering. Simply for the very likely possibility that something important and magical was waiting for me.


The months leading up to my trip found me working almost every weekend on my first poetry anthology. Here and there, I would carve out an hour or two wherever I could to write - before work, on weekends, and often still penning new pieces in my head at 3:00 am. I was getting close to moving the needle on the next steps, but time was fleeting and fickle, and procrastination was enjoying her mind games. So as life and work slowly replaced my dreamy clouds of goals and wistful ambitions with more realistic ones (albeit sometimes gray and dreary), I found myself having less motivation and passion to devote to my dreams. I needed time to escape into my own imagination, into my own energy; time away to hermit and think and be; time to wander through my own poetry.

 


As the trip drew closer, I realized how synchronistic it all was: the divine timing, the happenstance listing, the sheer fact that I was disappearing for a while with the very intention to finish a book in a place that would drop me straight into the setting of one of the literary world’s greatest stories. Such serendipitous coincidences, while now common and welcome occurrences in my life, never cease to pump me full of amazement and joy. They are always little gentle nudges that I’m in the right place at the right time, getting “lost” in the right direction.

 


The hut itself felt like home: incredibly cozy and welcoming, complete with the iconic oversized round door. The interior was filled with little touches that brought the magic of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit to life: a glowing fireplace, plants hanging from the ceiling, signage and decor as a nod to moments from the book. When I walked in, even the soundtrack from the movie was playing and added another layer of total immersion to the experience.


Immediately, I surveyed my surroundings. After securing my second breakfast and elevenses in the mini fridge, I set up my battle station in front of one of the charming round windows. With my laptop at the ready, phone switched into airplane mode, and donning my black frame glasses (have to protect those eyes when hours of screen time lay ahead!), I was ready to go three rounds in the ring with my words. No interruptions this time (ironically - or synchronistically - as I’m writing this from the bed the next morning, my alarm goes off in the middle of this sentence.)



For hours I fell into my work, into my own adventure. I thought to myself, “This must be what writers feel like. This must be the very definition of that famous phrase, Not all who wander are lost.” 


When I write, I am living wholeheartedly, completely, entirely in the present moment. Nothing else exists beyond my hands moving like a skilled musician across her instrument and the thoughts channel through from above, making their way through the labyrinth of my mind until they exit swiftly through my fingertips. It’s art, music, and movement in a simultaneous crescendo of my own truth; a beautiful dance of the mind in an effortless waltz with the muse. 

 



Five hours later and a few breaks for afternoon tea, dinner, and supper, I had finally secured every poem for the book. There was still editing to do and a whole list of other items, but the hardest part was done: the truth was all there on the pages. The vigilante of the artist within had wandered there and back again.


I realize now as I reflect back from the comfort of the buffalo plaid blanketed bed just how much being on your own can bring beguiling and beautiful miracles (and if you didn't already know, alliteration is kind of my thing). 

 



In searching for a quote to end this post on, I happened upon this one that stuck out to me:


-


"I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone."


"I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!"


-


As I stood on the hearth of the fireplace, I began to cry. It was a moment of overwhelm in the best way: immense gratitude and appreciation for not only where I was going but where I had been; and yes, gratitude even for all the nasty, disturbing, and uncomfortable moments I had encountered along the way as well.


There is a vast difference between being “alone” and being “on your own.” Alone implies a kind of sadness, perhaps even losing sight of where you were going in the first place. But being on your own, creating your own adventures without expectation or plans, simply letting things find you when they may? That’s a different story entirely - one that I am quickly coming to understand as a deep need and a hunger within me that no amount of elevenses and luncheons could satiate; one that is pivotal to the second chapter of my adventurous story, and I suspect I may be quite late for dinner.

 


 

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