With more information available, we have become more aware of the damage colonists, tourists, explorers have done–either purposely or with the best of intentions. Yet, we are ironically traveling and encountering different cultures and places (and virtual places) far more often. Even our home towns can transform overnight; some of us have felt like tourists in our own home towns.
In “A Mile in These Shoes,” I want to promote writing that neither exploits, avoids, nor needlessly idealizes our surroundings. I want to help writers find ways to write that satisfy the reader’s taste for exploration and adventure, while remaining aware of the people and settings that have powerful narratives of their own.
It’s a class I’ve been dreaming to teach.
I had the pleasure of being in Reykjavik this past year, and we traveled to this fissure in the ground–it could not have been much wider than a Thanksgiving dinner table. But our tour guide said that on once side was North America, while on the other side would be Europe and Asia. We were literally straddling a continental divide. But what looked like a chasm?
Our guide pointed to a place into the distance, Between us was a swath of meadow. Just 10,000 years ago, this patch of land did not exist.
I feel that right now, there is so much that seems as if it tears us apart. Sometimes it shakes, erupts–at times violently. But with patience, and with time, these fissures will be replaced by new land and soil–new places for life to thrive.