Last week I posted my 100th episode in this blog. Am I surprised that I got that far, or wondering why I didn’t get there sooner? Proud? Questioning whether any of it matters? Maybe a little of all of that – it is a milestone (three digits! Two zeroes! A century!) that begs for some reflection, something that I’ve been doing quite a bit of these days.
This blog started as a means to document and recount my travels during a specific journey. I wanted a way to keep friends and family apprised of my adventures without bombarding them with emails. I thought I’d like to get back to writing more. As I continued on my extended cross-country road-trip, I found myself framing my experiences, as they were occurring, by the blog post to come. What pictures would best explain what I was seeing, or best capture the moment? What would readers be interested in, and where should I focus my activities and attention? Themes began to develop within the larger narrative, as I found myself following the west-bound trail of Lewis and Clark, or comparing ecological characteristics across thousands of miles. West, then South, then East, then back North. In the end, the writing helped me to process what I was experiencing, and turn it into something more than an isolated, individual experience.
After I returned from that journey, I settled down in a new home, with a new job, in a part of my state that I knew very little about. It was a year after returning when I completed the story of my cross-country adventures. Because of the delay in documentation, this blog has also helped me to remember my travels, forcing me to bring them back to mind, and pull out the best parts. Time has proven to be very effective at distilling those features worth recalling and retaining! I continued to write about my new, if less wide-ranging adventures, documenting the weekend adventures as I explored my new setting, and for a while the “nature” aspects of this blog superseded the “travel” portion. Rather than finding wonder in historically-important sites or strange new scenery, I looked more closely at the wonderful plants, rivers, birds, and light around me every day. I explored the depth of the world, leaving behind the breadth.
As I write this, I have been in my “new” surroundings for three years, and it has been three and-a-half years since I started writing “Unsettling.” Over time I have lost some of the everyday wonder in what I see around me. I still find beauty around every turn, and learn new things constantly, but without the amazement I felt when it was all brand new. Occasionally I will take vacations for a week or so, to places where I do get to explore those new things. You may have noticed that it takes months for me to get around to writing about them here, if at all, and that when I do there is a little something missing compared to that narrative of my epic wanderings. Passion, excitement, enthusiasm, wonder – for some reason I just can’t seem to channel it when recounting those get-aways. Why would that be?