Monday, July 9, 2018

Writing, Travel and Letting Go

A two-week vacation to the English Lake District, timed to coincide with my birthday on July 11, begins today. A couple birthdays ago, I went to London and before that, women’s writing conferences. Gifts to myself. Gifts to the writer. 

I’m traveling to the place where mountains, forests and lakes inspired Wordsworth. Windermere is not far from Manchester where my grandmother, Annie Beatrice Dean Weidener, was born. As a young woman, she traveled from England to Philadelphia, where she met my grandfather, Andrew Weidener, a marketing and sales manager for the Pennsylvania Railroad. After he died of a heart attack at the age of fifty-nine, Nanny ran a small boarding house (now called a bed and breakfast) in Germantown, serving tea to strangers, her cat purring on the windowsill ….

Like my grandmother, I travel. Lately, I’ve sensed a need to travel a new path … thinking of Robert Frost “two roads diverged in a wood and I—I took the one less traveled by”; a new beginning, a new endeavor, a new path. Which to choose? So many options.

Reflection and time, along with patience and good humor, help. Maybe, I’ll learn I’m right where I’m meant to be.

Several years ago, when my sons and I were in Hong Kong, we took a bus to Lantau Island. We climbed the endless steep steps to the top of the hill where a huge, seated bronze Buddha sat on a lotus throne and stared with impenetrable serenity toward the horizon. Alex said that Buddhists believe life is a struggle and the human condition one of pain and suffering. The way to reach nirvana lies not in holding onto relationships, or anything worldly, but in letting go.Warm breezes from the Sea of China mingled with the scent of incense, as monks prayed and mediated by the Buddha.

Writing is a way of letting go, of absorbing pain and moving on. It is my survival guide, my traveling companion.  I’m writing this now before heading to the airport.

As a writer, you look for a moonlit night thousands of miles from home, a conversation in a pub filled with old geezers and young people, alike.The notebook waits, pulled out of a suitcase. Thoughts and impressions jotted down. A memory, a moment, write it so you won’t forget. And I’ll think of my grandmother, how her life began in England, where I now travel.
Susan in Westport, New Zealand

See you in a couple weeks.

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