“Life is a journey” nighttime soap writers like to have their attractive characters say; always a metaphor for something easy and luxurious. Quiet drives along the Pacific Coast Highway, holding hands, stopping along the way beside the mansions of Laguna Beach to contemplate the exaltation of the Southern Californian shores; the trip from Lisbon to Obidos, up through the wine country and the rolling Portuguese forests until that ancient walled town peeks out in medieval perfection from behind a crest. A travel writer’s journey; the carefree post-college trek through Europe. A honeymoon.
“Life is a journey” indeed, but maybe not in the way they mean – and I’ve taken to chronicling some of mine, in my own way. I write here – a somewhat poor substitute for a column. If I had one, a column – rewarded through a paycheck for the heartfelt work of “opening a vein and bleeding onto a page” as Hemingway used to say, I’d call it “One Small Voice”. Those who know the reference might grin, considering my predilections. Not “One Happy Voice” because when I sit to write, what I say is rarely sanguine; nor “One Loud Voice”, for that I certainly do not have. Loud voices in today’s world require hate; and I no longer have the energy. “One True Voice” it certainly is. Somber sometimes but exultant too, because it is a remarkable world full of amazing places and extraordinary people doing improbable things. A rich boy, descendant of a liberator marches resolutely to prison; freed men build a shrine to those who would enslave them; countries are kidnapped and die. Others are reborn.
My journey is full of books, so I do lots of reviews – we have to read to understand; because things are confusing and there are so many paths that it’s often helpful to walk alongside others in their journey, if only for a season. And we have to write – well those of us who write do. Books I mean – not blogs, well not only blogs; I’m halfway through writing my fourth novel: parts of a life that hasn’t always been easy – but always interesting.
Sadness – despair – loss. You don’t often find these on the road from Los Angeles to San Diego. But they have been the vistas I have considered on my way to where I am, to who I am. Mali, Congo, Uganda. Venezuela – war, deprivation, suffering, hunger. But also goodness, trust, beauty and even joy beyond the hardships.
All that to say – I’m writing today to celebrate you, my companions (300,000 strong and counting, on my blog alone). It’s been such an honor that so many of you have joined me thus far – to share in a quiet moment of reflection; a thought, a dream or a fear. To participate in the unusual: tragedy and victory alike. It is for you that I write too – not because I pretend to inform or teach, we already have plenty of people who talk down to us, don’t we? We who would be serfs – who should be serfs in the view of those with loud last names – are lectured at quite a bit in today’s grumbling world. But because we need more voices that highlight our own shared humanity – lest we lose the battle to our evil djinn and our souls perish in the process. So I hope you continue to accompany me – it’s a voluntary process, after all. My value, free of charge (unless you want to buy a book 🙂 – bartered for your time.
It’s a fair and honest trade, I think. And I thank you for it.