365 NOLA Adventures, My Book

Split the World in Two

On Halloween night, I went to go see a play outdoors in City Park’s Besthoff Sculpture Garden. It was “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” put on by local theater company, The NOLA Project. (Check it out — there are still five more performances left!)

It was a coooooooooooooooold night to be sitting outside, but the play was fun, with no less than five light-hearted beheadings. I’d recommend getting there early (which — if you know me — is ironic advice), because when we were able to move our seats closer to the front in Act 2, it was much easier to hear.

And I’m glad I could hear, because a line from that second act has stuck with me. It was spoken by lead actor, Keith Claverie…who was playing an actor…who was playing Washington Irving…who was — later on — playing a man making a deal with the devil. (No big deal, just your standard play within a play within a play.)

He was talking to another character about what makes a good story, and he said, “Every character has to be motivated by something they’re willing to split the world in two for.”

Between beheadings at The NOLA Project’s performance of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Photo courtesy of The NOLA Project and King Edward Photography.

I’ve been thinking about the Appalachian Trail book a lot lately. I’m writing a lot of other things, but — as far as the book goes — I’m stuck. So, this weekend, I’ve been thinking about that line from the play, and I think it might help unstick me.

What is the thing I am willing to split the world in two for? In other words, why did I leave my relatively comfortable life to go walk over mountains from Georgia to Maine?

In an article I wrote for Mid-City Messenger before I left for the hike, I wrote about being dumped, and being distraught about it. I wrote about needing to find my “10 out of 10s,” meaning the things that made me most happy; the things that were mine, alone, to treasure; the things that wouldn’t end just because a relationship ended.

Check it out. I think it’s a pretty good intro article, and I think that’s a pretty good reason to go on a hike.

But it wasn’t actually my reason.

Over 159 days, a lot of things change, including your facial hair and your reasons for hiking.

It’s not like I lied intentionally. But I think the most rewarding part about writing — whether it’s for a book or just a private journal — is if you do it honestly (which is hard), you’ll learn a lot of things you didn’t realize you didn’t know.

And it took me a long time to get some clarity on my reason.

So, if my reason at the beginning wasn’t to find 10s, then what was it?

Well, I think it changed over time, and THAT transformation — though it took me two years to finally figure out — is what the book is about. I’ll write more about that transformation tomorrow, so — if you’re interested — swing back on by, and follow me via my newsletter or on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.


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