Using Feelings In Descriptions of aVacation Trip!
I have heard, and you all have heard, this all too familiar description of someone’s vacation trip. The person gives a list of places visited and “Data” rolls from the lips. By the end of the ten minutes or even 60 minutes, you have heard a long list of places visited.
No feelings. Might as well hear someone list their shopping trip at Walmart, each and all of the 40 items bought told to the very penny.
There is a far *worse* case! This is where there is no reply at all!
Case in point, a true event: he had been to the mountains for about two weeks and he had returned and I saw him in the donut shop, sitting alone, a day later.
“How was the trip?”, I asked.
He replied, “trip was OK, car only broke down once.”!
Then, Silence. I never did could get him to tell me any more about his trip!
At first, I thought he was raised in a non-feeling culture; he was from the upper Midwest. Maybe he could not feel. Maybe he was never taught in school *how* to feel!
I am now realizing that he probably had feelings, but he had no training nor experience in finding words that *express* feelings.
Wine, by itself, cannot be given to someone. Wine needs a glass, then the glass full of wine can then be given to you. Storytellers and poets can do this; craft words that contain a feeling.
Today, on a walk around the lovely Lake Ella, here in Tallahassee, I turned the tables on myself! I, years ago, lived for over a year with my sister in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. 30 miles directly from Asheville and 80 miles by road; they only use curve signs where the road has a 180-degree curve! Up and down the mountain, the gap is 3800 feet high.
Now, suppose I done told someone that I lived there for a year. She asks me how was that year. What might I say?!
First off, trying to describe 15 months in one sentence is like mixing all the color pigments in a watercolor painting set, into one blob. The resulting color will be GRAY!
“I enjoyed the 15 months.” No… no. Nothing is communicated.
What to do? Why I would take some tiny experiences and focus on each of them, much like the examples below…
… About a few days at her house, I walked outdoors after breakfast on this warm humid summer morning and I Smelled. The plants gave a distinctive smell. Rhododendrons, white pine, hemlock pine, and other unknown plants gave the air a very distinctive odor. The smell of the mountains! They wrapped all the mysteries and the glories of the mountains up, in each smelled breath!
… The country store! Right out of 1880. People sat around the chair area and told their stories and their experiences. Outsiders and mountain people, together. I walked there nearly every day that I could.
… the narrow gaps and deep valleys often gave me a “pent in” feeling. As if the very rocks gave off an aura of Presence.
… the zillion small mountain people’s traditions that I witnessed and/or took part in. Hereabouts, if a person were walking by his friend as he was hoeing his garden, he would, at first, say “hello” and then ask if there was a second hoe in his shed. Hereabouts, if one were to meet someone working at something, he would join in and work with that person as they talked.
… my sister gave to me a long lecture on the “R-values” of wood! An R-value is a number that shows how hot the fire would be with only that one species of tree and each tree has a different number. Yellow popular [tulip tree] burns quick and hot but has no staying power, thus perfect for a kitchen wood-burning stove. Oak and locust are at the top.
Was much more than R-value, that I learned, though. I experienced a tunnel right into the heart of the mountain people's ways of life. Wood, for them, was utterly important. Houses, fences, furniture, you name it, were made of wood. And, yes, firewood was and is very important. One must know all about Wood.
Somehow, I could “connect” with all of their feelings, of their historical ways of life, though “R-values”!
… behind her house was an old unused trail. Went from one hollow over to the next. I found an Indian lancehead made of flint. My! This trail then was Ancient! Probably many *many* hundreds of years old! Reminded me too of how at that store several men spoke of the fires built on top of the such-and-such mountain, about four miles away. He saw several burned-out fire pits, where someone had built a fire there not very long ago. Indians! To them, this mountain is sacred, and many native people today come to commune with the Great White Spirit, there. [the Cherokee reservation is but only 15 to 20 miles away.] Many of the mountain people are also part Indian as well. I think a few of them come also to build a fire and sit around it, after dark.
There. Some examples of what I might could describe my many months living there.
But even so, I find it hard to put a “glass” around my “wine” of AWE and WONDER, with these small experiences. These feelings would “come out” as I am telling these experiences to someone. Not so easy to express feelings merely by typing out a few paragraphs! I am still working on this!