Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"I want more, impossible to ignore...

...impossible to ignore." Dreams by The Cranberries (as sung in You've Got Mail.)

As I looked at some pictures from my Morocco trip this summer, I suddenly got an awful, awful case of wanderlust. I felt like the Rat in Wind in the Willows:

"And you, you will come too, young brother; for the days pass, and never return, and the South still waits for you. Take the Adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes! 'Tis but a banging door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new! Then some day, some day long hence, jog home here if you will, when the cup has been drained and the play has been played, and sit down by your quiet river wit ha store of goodly memories for company. You can easily overtake me on the road, for you are young and I am ageing and go softly. I will linger, and look back; and at last I will surely see you coming, eager and light-hearted, with all the South in your face!"
The voice died away and ceased, as an insects tiny trumpet dwindles softly into silence; and the Water Rat, paralysed and staring, saw at last but a distant speck on the white surface of the road.
Mechanically he rose and proceeded to repack the luncheon-basket, carefully and without haste. Mechanically he returned home, gathered a few small necessaries and special treasures he was fond of, and put them in a satchel; acting with slow deliberation, moving about the room like a sleep-walker; listening ever with parted lips. He swung the satchel over his shoulder, carefully selected a stout stick for his wayfaring, and with no haste, but with no hesitation at all, he stepped across the threshold just as the Mole appeared at the door.
"Why, where are you off to, Ratty?" asked the Mole in great surprise, grasping him by the arm.
""Going South, with the rest of them," murmured the Rat in a dreamy monotone, never looking at him. "Seaward first and then shipboard, and so to the shores that are calling me!"
He pressed resolutely forward, still without haste, but with dogged fixity of purpose; but the Mole, now thoroughly alarmed, placed himself in front of him, and looking into his eyes saw that they were glazed and set and turned a streaked and shifty grey--not his friend's eyes, but the eyes of some other animal! Grappling with him he dragged him inside, threw him down, and held him.
The Rat struggled desperately for a few moments, and then his strength seemed to leave him, and he lay still and exhausted, with eyes closed, trembling. Presently the Mole assisted him to rise and placed him in a chair, where he sat collapsed and shrunken into himself, his body shaken by a violent shivering, passing in time into a hysterical fit of dry sobbing. Mole made he door fast, threw the satchel into a drawer and locked it, and sat down quietly on the table by his friend, waiting for the strange seizure to pass. Gradually the Rat sank into a troubled doze, broken by starts and confused murmurings of things strange and wild and foreign to the unenlightened Mole; and from that he passed into a deep slumber...
Poor Ratty did his best, by degrees, to explain things; but how could he put into cold words what had mostly been suggestion...
Casually, then, and with seeming indifference, the Mole turned his talk to the harvest that was being gathered in, the towering wagons and their straining teams, the growing ricks, and the large moon rising over bare acres dotted with sheaves. He talked of the reddening apples around, of the browning nuts, of jams and preserves and the distilling of cordials; till by easy stages such as this he reached mid-winter, its hearty joys and its snug home life, and then he became simply lyrical.
By degrees the Rat began to sit up and join in. His dull eye brightened, and he lost some of his listless air.
Presently, the tactful Mole slipped away and returned with a pencil and a few half-sheets of paper, which he placed on the table at his friend's elbow.
"It's been quite a long time since you did any poetry," he remarked. "You might have a try at it this evening."

I apologize for the lengthy quote, but you see, it is precisely my feelings now. I too felt the sweet and spicy seduction of travel, and I too lost myself into the misty grey eyes of another thinking of the distant isles and lonely coasts waiting for me to reach them. I felt the pull of the romantic boat-streets of Venice, the frightening ancient beauty of Egypt, the bustle of stony Rome, the snub of silvery Paris, the regal splendor of the Forbidden City in China, of the shining Mediterranean, the glistening China Sea, the sparkling Caribbean, the mystery of the Nile, the murky of the Seine or Thames. All these are all calling me, these and more. I can smell the mould in country estates in England, I can hear the chirping of insects in the jungles in Africa, I can taste the tang of seawater in the air and hear the babble of mountain streams. I remember the glorious exhaustion of some distant trail walked or mountain climbed, I feel the delicious melancholy of being alone in the middle of nowhere, I hear the unknown and unfamiliar sound of a language that I don't know, and I sense the terror of my inability to communicate. I feel the surprise at a friendly face in a strange place, and I feel the intense solitude that only comes from being alone in a strange place and I crave it. The tendrils from distant ports of call are gently, inexorably leading me, pulling me...

And then I am held down, and I lose all strength. I sink, then shake, then sob, then stare at nothing in particular, with my eyes no longer that queer grey, but again their own, normal color. Slowly, my mind is brought to the present, with my own little room, and a yellow tree out my window, and my little path I walk down to work from where I park my car, all lined with crunchy leaves and smelling of autumn. The birds fly south--and let them!--for soon it will be winter, with it's sledding, and roaring fires, and pies and cranberries and stuffing, and the cat to sit on my lap, and books to read, and movies to watch, and music to listen to. Presents to wrap, trees to trim (we have 23) and family and friends coming home again from their travels to wish a Merry Christmas! And at the thought of Christmas, I become quite lyrical and content to stay at home.

I highly recommend The Wind in the Willows, if you've never read it. Perhaps it is my romanticism coming out (so it is, but what of it?) but the charm of the innocence of simple life, without lofty goals and complex schemes or adventures beyond our own little sphere, that, the home of life, that is the point of the book. Though since I am of the age when one longs to go and make home somewhere else, this too gives me a sort of homesick wanderlust (like of the kind discussed in Garden State, but that's a whole 'nother blog!). Until then, I am content in my little home here, nestled in the mountains, over looking the River of the North.

I have expansive vistas to overlook, and treacherous cliffs to look down, and winding paths, and desert trails, and lonely peaks that I have not yet explored--right in my backyard! So really, I need not go any farther than out my front door to find another adventure.

And, would you believe, I've got a quote for the occasion? It's from Lord of the Rings, something Bilbo told Frodo:

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

Isn't life ironic?

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