Traveling epiphanies

One of my favorite ways to connect with mywriterself is to travel, and my favorite vacations are ones that are busy. Many people prefer spending a week relaxing at the beach or cruising a new social scene, but I enjoy vacations where I’m exploring nature and/or history. It’s not unusual for me to plan an itinerary where I overnight in several different places.

My especial favorites are national parks, ancient ruins, and working cathedrals. For me, there is no way to feel closer to the divine than to stand on the rim of the grand canyon or to walk through the ruins at Tintern Abbey. I want more than anything to tour the Holy Land and to see the older placeseastern and westernwhere civilization was born.

But I’ve had epiphanies closer to homestanding on a beach, walking a city street, hiking a trail, running around a lake, taking a drive on a country road.

During travel I reopen the mental space (no computer, no phone, no TV) to contemplate the vastness/smallness of the world, of human experience, of something mystical binding it all. Sometimes I feel like if I reach out just a little further I’ll come to an understanding, and it’s in this nearness where I find the urge to write, the urge to capture a feeling of insight that passes almost as quickly as it comes.

I don’t think I write whole novels in this poetical-spiritual headspace. My novel writing is a little too practical for that. But I do hope that somewhere in the climax of each book, a reader will feel that epiphany, that glimpse of understanding that inspires me to write.

After all, isn’t reading a novel simply another form of travel?

Denali National Park, Alaska, 2011

Where have you traveled and found inspiration?

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The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

— Pablo Picasso