In June 1997, I embarked on an odyssey whose consequences I could never have predicted...or imagined. I had been back living in Toronto for only a short while when a voice in my heart urged me to pack all I owned (not a lot) into the back of my Dodge Caravan and head west.
At other times in my life, I would have doubted the message, questioned my sanity. On that sunny morning, I knew my only choice was to trust and follow my heart.
For three months I journeyed. I traveled north and west from Toronto along the rugged, forested shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior, then south and west, crossing Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Oregon. From the Oregon coast, I slipped south into California, then shot back east, across Nevada and Utah, before dropping into northern Arizona.
Throughout those months, I never planned my next stop. When I tried, my plans were nearly always thwarted by some seemingly outside force. Mostly, I let my heart control the steering wheel and I followed wherever it took me.
It was a magically transformative experience, though not without stress, for it was difficult at times to surrender fully. Part of me longed to plot out an itinerary, to know where I would drive the next week, to know where I would end up. The greater, more courageous part of me trusted in the infinite wisdom of the journey.
Through all the unexpected stops, unanticipated detours and unpredicted forays into uncharted territory, all I could do was trust in each moment and believe that the story I was living would reveal itself -- through the living of it.
It did -- magnificently.
On the morning of the full moon in September, after 90 days of journeying, I drove into Sedona, Arizona. I expected this to be another whistle stop on the road to wherever. Instead, one week grew to two, one month to seven. Before I knew it, I had a new country, a new wife and a new baby on the way.
Had I given my brain-mind the control it sought, I might never have left Toronto, might never have launched a journey that gifted me with so much richness.
Part of what prepared me for this odyssey was The MoonQuest, the novel whose early drafts I had already written much as I lived that journey: moment by moment and word by word, ignorant of the outcome but trusting that one would emerge.
When we surrender to our heart-mind, trusting that the outcome will be more wondrous than anything we could consciously imagine, it always is.
As you write, let your pen carry you as my Dodge Caravan did me -- in trust and surrender. Let it carry you to the story you didn’t know you knew as, breath by breath, you move toward an outcome that has yet to reveal itself.
Ironically, I find myself on a similar journey 11 years later. With most of my belongings in storage, I am once again allowing a MoonQuest-like odyssey to carry me where it will.
Tonight it has carried me to Marshall, Texas, for reasons I can't yet know. Tomorrow, I will continue to allow my story to unfold moment-by-moment, toward an ending that has yet to be written.
Here’s a suggestion: In today's writing, notice all the times your mind edges (or leaps) ahead of the word you're writing. Be aware as that controlling part of yourself reaches forward to find out what's coming next, where you're headed, how it will end. Notice when this happens, but don't judge or punish yourself. Simply return your focus to the word of the moment. Return to it gently, lovingly, reassuringly. And continue writing, in the moment, letter by letter and word by word.
This piece was adapted from The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write
Photos by Mark David Gerson: #1 Toronto's CN Tower, #2 Pyramid Lake, Nevada, #3 Sedona's Red Rocks