Reflections on a Vocational Happenstance
"A journey is a person itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."
- John Steinbeck (Travels With Charley: In Search of America)
A week from tomorrow my husband and I will set off on a journey. We plan to be away for 19 days, traveling in Europe. We have an itinerary, naturally. We know where we mean to go, who we mean to see, and what we mean to do. Overall, I expect our journey will go as planned. But I tend to agree with Steinbeck: we won't be taking a trip; the trip will be taking us.
As I organize myself for departure, home becomes more dear to me. The phlox in my garden still haven't bloomed, though surely they will between now and August 20th. I may miss them entirely this year. And we are inundated just now with hummingbirds. Manic juveniles noisily zooming about from flower to flower and emptying the feeders at a remarkable rate. Perhaps they'll move on when I am not here to feed them and I will miss watching them grow up. August is dragonfly month, and though I've seen one this week, I will likely miss the days when they fly over the field en masse -- not a school or a swarm, but each charting its own course to gather food.
But if I wait for a time when I won't miss anything, I'll never go. The butterflies will find the phlox, the opportunistic hummingbirds will find nourishment, and the offspring of these soon-to-migrate dragonflies will find their way to this field next spring.
Truth is, things here will mange just fine while I'm away. It's myself I'm trying to comfort and calm when I go about whispering to everything living thing, promising to return. I know that wherever I go, no matter how splendid it may be, I will want to come home.