The journey metaphor is a little used and abused these days. Everything seems to be a journey. Weight loss, a series of Masterchef, travelling across the world. Maybe it’s the modern yearning for something challenging, adventurous and meaningful when adventure and challenge aren’t really a part of the everyday life.
It’s a hard metaphor to go past though. Especially for this trip – which sounds kind of stupidly obvious. But when I say journey I mean the bigger kind. That lovely notion of the hero’s journey. The thread that passes through all the epic stories within humankind. The hero leaves their home, strays beyond their valley, resisting the call to stay within the known. They seek something amidst a land that is unrecognisable and foreign and then return home to their valley with some prize or jewel – but they are never the same again.
Just two days ago I finished reading the Lord of The Rings to my children. Having had it read to me from cover to cover it has been a life goal to read it to my own children. I also couldn’t stand the thought of one of my daughters picking up the book when they are a teenager saying “Oh wow…they wrote a book about the movie!”. We have a “book first then movie” rule in our house – whether that is Tolkien or JK Rowling.
Anyway – it was so long since I had last read it that I hadn’t realised how damn amazing it was and the beautiful under currents of personal change and discovery. The hobbits coming back taller and stronger. Merry and Pippin – two young knockabout lads – leading a mutiny and slaying the ruffians who have taken over the Shire. Frodo and his brooding pacifism and compassion for all living creatures no matter how cruel. Dear Sam Gangee the most noble, unshakable and loyal journey mate leaves a child-like servant and comes back to be a husband and father. All returning from their journey different.
And I thought – this is us. This WILL be us. There is no way we can come back the same.
Now the ball is really in motion, the changes have already started. I drive down my street and it looks different. I notice things I never have before because I realise I will never really look at them again. Streets I will never walk the dog down, the petrol station I will never visit again, that nice dad from school I talk to occasionally but in all reality will never speak to. A slow, quiet extraction from my valley. Mental “goodbyes” to everything warm and familiar.
It’s all so horribly familiar but it all looks different now. Same same but different. But I am sure that it is me who is different already.