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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Journeys are the Midwives of Thought

Back to the quote I introduced a few days ago...

The funny thing is that when I wrote that down, I was in the first month of trying to conceive. We were near Deep Creek Lake and we passed a church on the way to dinner that had this quote from Alain de Botton. I wrote it down because the journey I thought I was on in that moment was the journey to motherhood. I thought I was going to get pregnant on the first try (I mean, seriously, how could you not believe that in the way they freaked us out in high school about practicing safe sex?). In fact, I had a pregnancy week-by-week book with me on the trip so I could look up what I would be feeling in the third week of pregnancy. Yes, I truly mean the third week as in before the implantation that never happened.

So what ultimately was my journey? Trying to conceive with infertility being an obstacle? Or was motherhood the journey with trying to conceive merely the turnstile at the start of the path?

Why did this quote stop me when I found it on my palm pilot? Certainly, I think we can all agree that there are thoughts that came from my journey. An entire blog full of thoughts. But de Botton was speaking literally about travel in this quote. His book is about "how we imagine places before we have seen them" (or...perhaps...babies before we've seen them?). And "the soothing effects of train travel and its ability to stimulate the imagination and help us work through problems."

Is it that simple; just hop on a train and you'll be able to see your entire world an an entirely new light? You'll find the solution to whether it's more sensible to adopt or try one more IVF cycle. Or whether you should try the testicular biopsy or move to donor sperm. I think too many times, we take our troubles with us to a new location. All we've done is move places with our baggage--we haven't actually unpacked it. And if we were to open the bag and unpack it, we would see the same damn sweaters and jeans that we had worn back home--just now in a new space. Folded into a new, temporary drawer.

Do I think that I have come up with new ideas while on a journey? Of course. I can think of plenty of times when I've had the luxury just to stare out the car window for a solid hour, not distracted by doing anything other than thinking. And I've come up with story ideas or ways to word a letter or job prospects. But I've never made the big decisions that way. A good long cry is the midwife of those thoughts. And when a solution to a problem has been discovered on a trip, I've never felt like it was the act of traveling that created it. When a new understanding has occurred while I'm away from home, it's simply because it was the right time. My mind was finally able to accept the answer that had been buried in those twisty coils of tissue for probably months without recognition.

I'm hearing de Botton's smarmy voice in my head saying, "uh uh Melissa. You are too simple. Think back to your travels. The first Clomid was taken on the road. The first Follistim injection was given in a hotel room. All the turning points have been away from home. I do you Americans say....correct."

Maybe dear Alain has a point.

This is also the point where you add in your favourite church signs...


serenity said...

For me, travel is very freeing. Outside of my house and my routine, I am able to consider new options and work through my tangle of emotions. I think it has to do with being away from the house, from our normal routine... and I am wondering if that is because even our grief has become routine for us. Hm.

But as with all travel, once we get home, all that baggage that we didn't take is still there. Still waiting for us. And ultimately, we need to work through all of that baggage. Right?

The last church sign I saw which made me laugh was "nix the nard."

No joke. I have NO idea what I can take from that. :)

Piccinigirl said...

I agree with Serenity, I have done some of my best thinking "on the road" and I have made decisions in Aruba, St Maarten etc. I have traveled to escape from the "what everyone thinks I should do" to really look inside me (or us) and know what is right for us. I hate coming home because it means that I may have to explain my decisions to someone that wasn't there, doesn't undersatand or "get it" .
I also commute every day and like many people that do this, I can tell you that I find new and different parts of myself every day. Sometimes I am grateful for the time to just think while Mr Kir drives and other days I wish for a 5 minute ride home to escape from the frustration, the hopelessness, the questions that bombard my mind and heart. I could talk for the whole ride or be lost inside myself but deep down we are always in the same do we get past IF to pregnancy? That feeling , that question is always with me no matter what my passport says

ok you asked for it, since we live in a mostly Catholic community we don't see a lot of church signs..but this is the one I remember from another church in the area:
"Sundays are for Jesus AND Football-GO"

hey you asked :)

The Town Criers said...

I am in LOVE with the sign "nix the nard." Does anyone have any clue what this means? Feeling a google search coming on...

Katherine said...

My all-time favorite church sign: "Forbidden fruits lead to many jams." It is probably bad that I immediately though, "Yum, sounds tasty!" (That one was somewhere in Virginia.)

On the subject of travel, thoughts, and decisions... We decided to get married during that same trip through VA, decided to start trying to conceive on a trip to Charleston. Each time it was the beginning of a much larger journey than the trip itself. I'm sure we would have come to the same conclusions no matter the location, but I think getting away from the ordinary helped a little. We do so much talking and thinking on trips, especially when in the car. I think it's not the trip so much as the opportunity to be together (or alone) with fewer distractions or new experiences that inspire thought.

C said...

Funny how so many huge decisions are made in conjunction with a trip away from home. My husband and I decided to get married while we were on a trip. We decided to TTC shortly after I got back from a very emotional visit with my parents when my dad was recovering from prostate cancer. We decided to get aggressive about diagnosing our infertility while moving from Maryland to Texas. All HUGE life decisions, and all made away from home. I think there's something about being in an unfamiliar place that makes us examine the familiar. Something about stepping away from normal life to realize that you really want to change how you live.

I can't say I see many church signs, but I love "nix the nard." I think I'll try to work that into a conversation this week. "Quiet down kids, nix the nard and get back to work!"

serenity said...

OOOh - After some research I think I figured it out - Nard is a "an aromatic Himalayan plant, believed to be the spikenard, Nardostachys jatamansi, the source of an ointment used by the ancients." The ointment was an aromatic and was supposed to induce perspiration.

Not sure why the church is saying that we need to nix it - suppose it would have helped if I went to the service. Way too much work for me.

Anonymous said...

Travelling, to me, is just a means of escape from what is bothering you...for the most part anyway. My last travel kinda changed that when I was on vacation in September - my travel turned into a reconnection with me, my family and my life. Whether that was coming anyway or as a direct result of the travel, who's to say? But, for now, I'll take it.

I suppose if you consider my daily walks during lunch as "travel," then yes, I unpack my bags on the track every time and think of things as I walk those 4 laps/2 miles in blissful silence (except for the birdies chirping and such). It is through these times I do my best thinking...

Here is a quote I saw months ago at one of the local churches"

"Change is inevitable, Growth is optional."

It was this sign that really hit home that I need to make some changes after my last m/c in March and start doing things to better me, so I can be a whole mommy again. I started counseling about 2 months before seeing this sign - and I think it gave me the strength to continue on with counseling, which has really helps me to heal.

mandolyn said...

Come to think of it, travel has been intertwined with my fertility journey as well. One of the first times I thought I was pregnant I was a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding out of town. I felt so sick in the hotel room and throughout the ceremony that I was sure of it. I think it must have been our third month of trying. (So logically, this was it, right?) No BFP- it must have just been something I ate.

The first time I did get pregnant was after a great vacation. The husband and I went to visit a good friend in Washington state. We had no plans other than to hang out for a week. It was such a nice change, not worrying about anything- no deadlines, no timelines, no alarm clocks or schedules to follow. I was on Clomid round #2. Sometimes I really wish that pregnancy would have worked out because I felt like it had such a fresh start...

We found our latest BFP on the road at a wedding in early Sept.

I think the fact that we weren't home made it surreal, like we weren't sure we could believe it when we got home, back in Normal Everyday Land.


There are always good church signs in TX...I think my favorite to date is, "Git-R-Done for God."