Monday, July 27, 2009
The cornstalks were well overhead by the middle of July. The silver maple in the back yard provided a way to see over them. From there, I could see the hills to the north of town, sitting with a somber, lonesome face. In those quiet moments, as I sat perched on a high branch, peeking through the dark green leaves to the blue bumps in the distance, a longing came that even to this day I don't fully understand. Some time later I learned the word "wanderlust," and when I saw that word, I immediately remembered those summers spent in the silver maple.
"What would it be like to start walking," I whispered to myself, "and just keep walking." I didn't know the direction was north then, but for the feelings that emerged, it wouldn't have mattered. The reality was in the emotion, in the deep-seated sense that my destiny lay elsewhere.
As time went by, neighbor kids made trails each summer through that cornfield. In my lonely wanderings, I'd come upon them and follow them back into the private land where there was an "island," a patch of land in the middle of the corn where the farmer who owned the land before it was sold off to developers had lived. But the house had burned to the ground, providing a hole in the earth where I could go and sit and think and wonder about the world that existed outside of what I knew. When I read The Lord of the Rings a few years later, I understood, again, somewhere inside that my life was a quest, and that I should go.
As I walk in my native State of Ohio, I remember those early days as the smell of cornstalks and the view of old farmhouses takes me back to those times. I stand, looking toward the future, knowing that I leave tears behind as the road opens before me. I'm not sure what I'll find, and I know that life won't get easier, but I have the sense that I'm finding the way to those long lost stirring felt in the boughs of that silver maple so long ago.