September 15th, 2011

S.C. Hickman

Sabbatical Is Over: Time to Catch Up

     "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
           - Mark Twain

      "The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead
       of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are."
            - Samuel Johnson

Where to begin is not obvious. One is reminded of that old Saxon poem The Wanderer of the "fare paths of exile." And so I, often full of that desperate melancholy, home bereft, far from the objects of the heart, have tumbled with the earth's dark loam, enfolded by its summer-breath, lifted my eyes toward the boundless ocean's unyielding spray. Like some solitary creature of habit I took leave of my solitude and sought out my kinsmen: my children, cousins, and near relatives among the stones of this strange land with a bundle of well-worn books.

Steinbeck in his short travelogue Travels with Charley tells us that "A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike." Or as Lao Tzu: "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." And, those steps, how they take us into strange worlds, into realms of the real that recede from us even as we move toward them. That's the beauty of Objects: you can never completely know them, they always shift and shuffle just beyond our thoughts, like imps laughing at us from afar. One can enter a forest, see a tall tree suddenly rise up like an old man, a whiff of moss flowing down in a gray moss beard with horned knobby eyes, full of brown light dancing in the late afternoon sun. A movement just beyond, a deer springing from a ledge, a great wrack of  antlers weaving back and forth, the pounding hooves, the snorting in the undergrowth, sound and motion, light and darkness, the mind overseeing and overhearing the life of objects that it can never fully comprehend, yet begins to discover in its journeys new forms to take hold of that uncanny familiarity that is its own dark emminence.