Standing on the Shores

Excerpt from my private journal, 5 April 2007:

I drove across Columbus Avenue to get to North Beach and wondered if the half-hour of writing at the Lake would justify the carbon footprint I’d leave behind. It is a fine spring day in Chicago and I’m hungry to see the expanse of turquoise water beneath the wide Midwestern sky.

It’s hard to explain creative writing to people who don’t do it. I think, most of the time, exercises we writers do to sharpen our writing skills just sound weird to non-writers. * laugh * For me, writing takes over my whole body, like a fever. And if I give in to my instinct – like this morning – it usually takes me to a place where I can feel with more intensity: The new leaves budding on the city’s oak and maple trees. The bite of the last winter wind. The wet smell of my Labrador retriever in the van as I write this.

This morning, I can’t help but think of Magellan. Did he stand on a Spanish shore just as I’m standing on the lip of Lake Michigan? Did he gaze out across the water and wonder what he’d find?

This morning, I awoke gripped by a nervous energy. It finally formed into words – and the words articulated my fears: Can I do it? Can I pull this trip off? Can I surrender to the FLOW of the moment? Will I be able to navigate jeepneys and buses, ferries and banca systerms I don’t yet know? Will it all work out?

I have a strange and complicated relationship with a man who has been dead for nearly 500 years. But this morning, I find myself in simpatico with him. I am gripped and called to sea. I cannot wait to stand on a prow and let the wind whip back my hair. I want all the answers to what I’ll find on this journey and I want them now. And yet, how I LOVE the mystery of what will be.

In thirteen days, I leave for Cebu to fulfill a lifelong dream. To travel to the islands where Magellan landed in the Philippines, to witness where he died. To listen to the land and the wonders of the sea around Cebu. And, at long last, to stand in the place where women babaylans, pintado warriors, Humabon and Lapu-lapu lived.

I am filled with questions. First among them is: What will I find?

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