Discovering the Relevance of Words
Herodotus was an ancient Greek writer known by many names. Some call him the Father of History, as his is considered the first systematic attempt to compile the stories of the peoples of the known world into a cohesive narrative. Others call him the Father of Lies, since there is so little evidence that he ever visited the places he implied he did. I think the Puritans called him Old Scratch, and his college friends called him Mr. SlippyNipple.
He is also sometimes known as the first travel writer, which is why we’re talking about him now.
I have a little notebook I take with me when I travel. Its brown paper cover, battered and soft from being repeatedly stuffed into suitcases and backpacks, says ‘Sasquatch’ in big bold letters. I’ve never been sure why it has this word emblazoned on it, but I’ve always been delighted that it does.
This word, however, is not the most defining feature of the book. Its most notable attribute, at least to me, is that fact that its pages are almost totally blank.
I don’t know why I find it so hard to write when I’m on the road. The idea of travel has always been inspirational to me. I see many similarities between the impulse to travel and the impulse to write. Both are exploratory activities driven by a curiosity to see things as they are. To set sail or hit the road is to throw yourself into the promise of all the adventure and romance that resides in the unknown. Over the next hill, there could be anything. That first step can is just as exciting and frightening as pulling up a new blank page and starting to write.
Yet, for some reason, I find myself either traveling or writing, never both.
The next week will see me driving a vintage RV to the ocean with my dog and my notebook. On this trip, I plan to fill this book, which until now has been battered more by neglect than by use. I plan to make something of that feeling of freedom you get when the sun comes up and you know all you have to do that day is drive. I’m going to write.
I stand now on the edge of a journey and, like Steve Perry before me, I won’t stop believin’.
See how hard I had to reach for that Journey joke? I apologize. My head’s not in the game. Up here, I’m already on the road.
Stay tuned to the Poetry Question for updates as I, like Herodotus before me, visit my own little corner of the world and make shit up about the places I haven’t been.