There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place; and I tried to trace such a journey in a story I once wrote. It is, however, a relief to turn from that topic to another story that I never wrote. Like every other book I never wrote, it is by far the best book I have ever written. It is only too probable that I shall never write it, so I will use it symbolically here; for it was a symbol of the same truth. I conceived it as a romance of those vast valleys with sloping sides, like those along which the ancient White Horses of Wessex are scrawled along the flanks of the hills. It concerned some boy whose farm or cottage stood on such a slope, and who went on his travels to find something, such as the effigy and grave of some giant; and when he was far enough from home he looked back and saw that his own farm and kitchen-garden, shining flat on the hillside like the colors and quarterings of a shield, were but parts of some gigantic figure, on which he had always lived, but which was too large, and too close to be seen. – The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton, Introduction
Stories—that is how a reader is able to look at and analyze his or her life. It is how I cope with mine. That all this—the gypsy man on the street with the accordion—it’s all part of something bigger. That the slightest thought is not without meaning or consequence. Material things spark the train of the immaterial—the train of thought, the stretching line of feeling, and even those material things, like the man who made music, that tangible things has been inspired by an immaterial feeling. These are intricate parts of a story. Looking at my own life teaches me how to write a story. Let’s start at a new, important period of my life. Okay. Going to Scotland for seven weeks. So that is the beginning of my story. That is where I begin. Later we find out why, what brought it about. Throughout the story we learn what we don’t know in the beginning—how this trip affects my life when it’s done. How I change. And thinking of that makes me aware of everything around me. The people I meet. The strange coincidences that urge me to record them, for reasons of their own.
I wonder how many “red herrings” I will write down. Probably none, because whatever I write I feel called to write. Whatever the object it has struck me in a singular and subjective way, and that in and of itself makes it interesting and important, at least to me.
When I come out of the town’s center and start down the hill—which will eventually lead me up another hill—towards home, I can see yet another hill, higher than all the rest. The very top of it is green, and its slope is brown—long, deep, furrows of brown that the tractor has been making all day. And there is a group of trees that I can see beyond the roofs of the houses. Their branches are dark against the misty ground and the cloud-swollen sky. It’s November. I want to climb that hill, and I almost don’t care that there’s a fence on it, marking it as someone’s property. I have a desire in me and an urge to climb. I feel it when I stand on my chair every morning to look out the window towards the North and see jagged, low mountains. This thought in particular has been with me ever since I got here, and yet I don’t know what significance it has. Maybe it doesn’t hold any significance, except as a defining point of my personality. But that’s the exciting things. I’m going to find out, sooner or later. And maybe when I do I won’t care anymore, but maybe it will bring on something exciting. That’s how it happens in stories. One thing leads to another. And those are the things we tell about, so that when you think about it, nothing that happens in life is without importance. We all have about one huge plot, and ten thousand subplots. A lot goes on that we don’t even think about. And all of it is flowing into the throbbing, pulsing blood of history.