I’m starting to think that I’m like one of those kinetic powered watches. Fueled by movement. When I was very small, my favorite thing to do at home was to think. For many people, thinking may be an active process only in the mind, but for me, it was (and, I’m increasingly aware, still is) a physically active process as well. At eight I traced a path around a pile of rocks outside my Grandparents’ house. It was a small circuit and it might have made anyone dizzy, but maybe that was the point: in my dizziness I created stories for hours. Sometimes I bounced a ball against the side of the house–one of those red rubber balls, the ones we played four-square with in the playground at school. I was a good four-square player and bouncing the ball against the wall gave me practice as well as time to crawl inside my own self. I climbed the rocks behind the house, too. Some people might have said I was a little feral, even. I sniffed my books and sometimes, when I was out walking in circles around the pile of rocks, I took a bookmark with me to simulate the feel of words, which were so tied already to the act of reading.
Later I took longer walks in the hills. Being stationary made my mind cave in, my thoughts turn idle, as if my brain was made of syrup. I made stories up in my head and if I was feeling particularly excited about one I had to go out, I couldn’t sit still, not even in a rainstorm. If I sat still the thoughts festered, but if I walked, they came easy and in great numbers. I think my breath was tied to my ideas somehow.
It became less literal over the years, as, it seems, many things do. When we’re children, things manifest in concrete ways, but by the time we’ve reached adulthood we’ve found ways to complicate even something as simple as the process of thought, so that metaphor is all we have left to describe ourselves. Now what happens is that journey–going somewhere, travel–stimulates thought. Not even necessarily about the place itself, but, as with the watch, the movement of self sets something else in motion.
I’m a travel writer, in the way that travel can be taken to mean the trip from one end of the garden path to the other.