Arriving

by Heather Vandenengel

SALEM, OR — It’s raining and I’m supposed to be driving along the Oregon coast, eating cheese and visiting breweries, but I’m still in Salem at a coffee shop doing work and stressing about upcoming travel plans and feeling frustrated with my decision making, and lack thereof. I’m also reading this Rebecca Solnit piece for Orion which hits like a sucker punch right now and has too many good quotes to choose, but here are a few.

“You travel to get somewhere, and you travel for the sake of adventure, for the scenery, for being in motion, for discovery, for being uprooted and at large, that nice expression that seems to suggest that liberty is an enlargement of the self, that you grow as your scope does. But maybe the final art of travel is arrival, the end of the story that eludes so many of us who are afloat or adrift, who believe there should be, must be, something next.

In a way, everything is traveling: the planet revolving daily, orbiting the sun annually, the blood traveling within our veins, the ideas traveling within our minds. Maybe being still is how you turn your attention from the logistics of your own trajectory to the passage of all the other beings and their shadows. To arrive, then, is not about immobility but something else, perhaps confidence, clarity, satisfaction, attention.”

“Like a life, a journey assumes a shape and a meaning that are only clear afterward, and like a journey, a life requires that you learn to let go of the plan when the actuality departs from it, to embrace what’s arriving, let go of what’s departing, to move forward and not get stuck. You can cover the same ground with entirely different purposes. Some people run away all their lives; some people search without finding; some people know where they’re headed and move toward goals, ideals, people; some in that subtlest of journeys move toward becoming who they are meant to be; some arrive.”

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