On the Road: A Family Pilgrimage
I’m eager to hit the road – to see my brother and his family, plus two of my oldest childhood friends I’ve known since fourth grade. Although we’ve gone separate ways in adult life, it’s so precious to keep those very old friendships – those folks who knew you when! One of life’s treasures. On my bedside table is a paperback copy of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” I never read it first time around, but knowing it is the “classic” travel adventure, I’m reading it now.
And speaking of on the road, that is where I’m heading in two days – “motoring” on the road from Richmond to Bremen, Indiana – the little town in the northern part of that state where I grew up. I’m headed there because that’s where my brother Joe, sister-in-law Marty and their family still live – at least when they’re not escaping from winter ice and snow to their Ft. Myers Beach condo! Anyway, this is my family remnant, having lost both our parents and other loved family members along the way.
I’m eager to hit the road – to see my brother and his family, plus two of my oldest childhood friends I’ve known since fourth grade. Although we’ve gone separate ways in adult life, it’s so precious to keep those very old friendships – those folks who knew you when! One of life’s treasures.
But I digress! I’m not only eager to see family and old friends along the way for a few days, but I’m also ready to take a break from working on my book project. By the time I come back, my brain will be refreshed and I’ll be ready to dive into writing again – this time, chapter five of “The Fiction of Our Lives.”
Speaking of writing, this Mother’s Day, my oldest son, Brian, and his wife Christy gave me a copy of Annie Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” – about living the writing life in her own beginnings as a writer, from childhood onward. Lamott’s father, who was her inspiration, support, and model, was also a writer. And he instilled in her some virtues of persistent drive and basic hope for her creative life as an author. She says that “hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” (p. xxiii)
Well, maybe that’s the secret of life as we live it. You don’t give up. You show up instead. And if you’re a writer, you show up at your keyboard (these days) and do what you are called to do and what gives your life meaning. She says:
Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do – the actual writing – turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine [of getting published], what you really needed was the tea ceremony [of the writing itself]. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward. (p. xxvi)
And so I say “Amen” to that! In the meantime, a little break, headed on the road in a kind of pilgrimage to visit my family and friends – the roots of my life. Paul Elie defines pilgrimage as “a journey undertaken in light of a story.” So we author our life story and, for all of us, our story begins with family – for good or bad. In my case, definitely for good. So wish me Godspeed. And more later … after my pilgrimage … on the road to Indiana.