When I was young I spoke like a child, I saw with a child’s eyes.
And an open door was to a girl, like the stars are to the sky.
It’s funny how the world lives up to all your expectations
With adventures for the stout of heart, and the lure of the open spaces……Back when darkness overtook me on a blind man’s curve
I relied upon the moon, and Saint Christopher.
– Mary Chapin Carpenter (The Moon and St Christopher)
Being the king of the melodramatic, vacation is never just vacation to me. It is always something deeper. But to get to why, we’ll have to back up a little bit.
During the early years of my tormented teenhood, I discovered Tolkien. Now, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are really about love of Hearth and Home, and getting back to them. Yet, Tolkien’s most beautiful storytelling was about leaving home, seeing strange, new, wonderful places, and meeting new people and learning their customs.
My favorite parts of LOTR are not battle scenes, or the wonderful love scene between Faramir and Eowyn, or the desperate heroics of Sam and Frodo. Those are wonderful, and I love them all in their own way. What stirs my heart, in a way I do not fully understand, are the travel sequences in Fellowship; the first, between Bombadil and Rivendell, the second between Rivendell and Moria. The movies almost skip over these sequences entirely, so you’ll only know what I’m talking about if you’ve read the books.
There is something about the thought of being in a new, strange place, under the open sky, navigating by the stars and the moon, resting after long travels by a campfire that just quickens my soul. I think I know now why.
Do you have any idea what these imaginary adventures meant to an oft-tormented, socially awkward 15 year old boy? I know it’s bad form to complain about a comfortable (materialistically) childhood, but there is a kind of inescapable tyranny subjected to those of the bottom of the social order in suburbia. Daily humiliations are an incredible weight to bear for an immature, fragile soul.
Through Tolkien, in my mind’s eye, I could leave the bottom of the high school caste system and see the beautiful magical world that I knew was out there, that just HAD to be better than the world I knew. This thought was implanted deep within me, it resides there still. I now know this to be a secondary reason (behind patriotism) that I attempted to join the army in 1983.
But God had other plans. Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, I never got out to see the world as I dreamed. But the few times I have traveled, it has truly been an adventure. One day, I’ll need to tell you about our amazing, unexpected adventure to Michigan to welcome Trillian into our lives. Who ever thought Detroit could provide such happy, exciting memories?
You see, despite my attempts to have a profession where I could see the world, God instead gave me exactly what I had prayed for. Travel is not work for me. It is not drudgery. It is high adventure.
Thursday we leave for Ft Myers Beach. I am so excited, it’s hard to concentrate. Ft Myers? The redneck Riviera? You’ve seen one tourist trap beach town, you’ve seen them all, you might say. But you see, it is more than that to me. It is a new, exciting place that I’ve never been before. It’s an adventure.
We will not steer by moonlight, we’re flying. We won’t be calling on St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers, we will instead call on the good grace of Jesus himself. It does not matter to me.
That part of me that was awakened in my youth has been stirred, and it will not calm until we get back.
I feel so alive, I cannot properly express it.