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On Going a Journey

Thursday, March 28, 2013

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."

I feel as though I've been flailing lately. I'm sometimes neither fully here nor there, I am often sad, and I'm having so much trouble seeing the whole picture without getting worked up about the larger details.

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.


  1. I can absolutely relate to the "flailing" thing. That was me for what I felt was the better part of last year. Seasons like this stink, but I do believe they make us better/stronger/whatever when they're over!

    You look so pretty in that picture :) And I love those quotes from the book.

  2. Ah! This post resonates with me so much. Sometimes I just feel like figured out a relationship long distance plus simultaneously figuring out "hey where do I want to be in my own life" is more than one person can really digest due to home much introspection it requires. I totally appreciate the looking through it as a journey perspective, though that certainly requires a lot of practice! Thank you for sharing!

  3. What great use of the word journey. What stood out to me is that we are alone and free in our journey. Even though others may be around us on our journey - your boyfriend, your dog - your path is all your own. So make it what you want!

  4. Neither fully here or there is such a hard place to be. I think you'll do great things now that you realize it's an opportunity to make life into what you want it to be, and to grow yourself into who you want to be. So much about ourselves is said by how we handle the crappy parts of life.

    I'm hoping that you make the most of this time, but that a real reunion with Rob comes soon!

  5. Such a beautiful post! I also have a hard time with getting caught up in the little details and getting down about the small things. It is easy to say to yourself "focus on the big picture" but so hard to do.

  6. This was a truly gorgeous post. You have an amazing way of articulating what I think (I hope I'm not alone in this?) a lot of people our age are going through. It's hard to feel anchored to anything, and when the more flexible parts of us start fraying from all of the stretching we've been doing, it can be hard not to feel like we'll fall when those ties finally break.

    So this is super insensitive given the beauty of your post, but I just realized you have a conch piercing, and I have one too, and I think we should be friends about it.

    1. Thank you so much! And yes we absolutely should be conch piercing friends!


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