On The Road

by Randy Murray on April 23, 2013

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. Covering ground. Wearing out shoes. Seeing new territories (and a few familiar ones). In just this year I’ve put thousands of miles on my car, traveling from my home in Columbus, Ohio as far West as Kansas City and as far East as Providence Rhode Island. I’ve been to New York City, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and made multiple visits to East Lansing. As I write this I’m preparing to travel back to my home territory in Illinois for the funeral of my aunt and the following weekend I’ll drive thirteen straight hours to deliver my youngest daughter back to school in Rhode Island.

And I just got back from Scotland.

All of this travel has me both elevated and exhausted. And I’ve thought a lot about it during the long hours behind the wheel or wedged into an airline seat.

There was a time, not that long ago, that most people lived their whole lives in the same place, never traveling, never leaving their home territories. I’ve even made notes on a novel set in a future where people have given up on travel and instantaneous communications, never traveling much farther than you could walk and still be back in time for dinner.

Travel is taxing, but there’s much to gain from it. And for the writer, the working writer, travel and exploration is incredibly valuable.

I make my living writing for businesses, so some amount of travel is related to that. But this year family needs and opportunities have pushed the category of personal travel to new extremes. That means that I’ve had to rearrange my work schedule around my travel needs. Fortunately, as a freelance writer I manage my own schedule and I can also write on the road. I’ve been able to let my clients know about my schedule, and, for the most part, it hasn’t been a problem.

But for the creative writer, my core person, this travel has been invigorating. All of the places I’ve been, the things that I’ve seen, the new people and conversations, are sending my creative self into new levels of excitement. My trip to Scotland was to see one of my plays in production. The experience was incredible. I’ve filled my little notebook with ideas for future productions and I’ve captured and documented inspirations for other projects. I’ve even made real progress on current projects, like my new play. Travel far outside the ordinary has really gotten me out of my rut.

But I’m so glad to be back. I’m ready, like my friend and editor, Penny, to become a bit of an intentional hermit for a while.

Here’s my central recognition: the Randy who returned from all of this travel is a different person from the Randy who left. I am now more “me” than before the trips. While traveling I find myself more centered, less distractible, and more active and focused on my surroundings. Travel lets me achieve an elevated sense of being.

But living on the mountain top can be exhausting. I don’t want or need to travel all the time. But I have made a new commitment to travel more in my own surroundings, no farther than I can go and still get back for dinner.

There’s a lot to see close to home. If I walk out my front door and keep walking I can be in a beautiful botanical garden in just ten minutes. I can see it here from my office window. I can travel to this oasis, walk the trails, see the seasons change, and get outside my own head. Should I hop on my bike I can be at the local reservoir in that same ten minutes or so, or into the heart of Westerville or off on the abandoned train tracks that now make a peaceful bike path.

And from my car I can travel more widely, and still be back for dinner. I need to do all of these things, make them a regular part of my days and weeks. And sometimes, I want to travel just within my own home; I need to practice that same mindfulness that travel teaches, to see, to be, and to do, without discounting everything as merely familiar and unworthy of note.

Because, every day, I want to be the person I am when I travel.

You can read more of my travel writing and experiences here in my series “Notes From The Road.”

Originally published in the Read & Trust Newsletter.

The On The Road by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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