When I Have Nothing to Say

In John Prine’s song “Angel from Montgomery,” he says, “How the hell can a person go to work in the morning, then come home in the evening, and have nothing to say?” I ruminate about blog topics, sometimes coming up empty handed. I want my posts to have greater value than idle chatter. Can I write anyway if I don’t open the process with a grip on what I have to say? It is better to be mute?

My environmental impact is often on my mind. I’m at Roan Mountain State Park in the northeast corner of Tennessee. Though the sites are nicely spaced and there are trees between us, big rigs are piled up all around me. Lola and I are ensconced in the outdoors, but getting here came at a cost of emitting carbon into the environment. I’m conflicted because I love Mother Nature and it takes a lot of gas to drive my rig from place to place. I take some solace in asserting that my carbon footprint is less than it was when I was living alone, heating and cooling a 4200 square foot house. I wonder if those who crawl along the highway in 45 foot monstrosity motor homes at 6 m.p.g. have similar concerns. Today I’ll find a carbon offset project to which I’ll give what I can.

I set out to intentionally spend time alone. But I’m amid sites where campers are enjoying the company of their significant others and their families. I wonder what that feels like. Loneliness begets sadness. I’ve felt tinges of both. Does spending time alone enable my unique creativity to flourish? Is gearing down in solitude peaceful, refreshing? What do I see with all of this time to look inside? Will this time make me more apt to show up better for the people in my life? Some questions merit being followed rather than answered.

I could offset solitude with imaginary conversations where I speak both sides…Imaginary speaker 1: ”It’s cloudy today.” Imaginary speaker 2: “The sun always returns.” Imaginary speaker 1: “Want to walk the dog together?” Imaginary speaker 2: “Sure, it’d be good to get fresh air.” Imaginary speaker 1: “What would you like to have for dinner?” Imaginary speaker 2: “I vote for grilling. Why don’t you choose what we have?” Sharing simple conversations is relationship bedrock.

I’ve just returned from a walk up and back down the mountain with Lola. Hiking is mentally stimulating without mental exertion or situational manipulation. For instance, I wondered this morning about those characteristics that I brought into this world and those that are existential. I was born wired in to hike. On the other hand, loving music is existential. Music from her favorite classical station stirred my mother’s soul. In his song “We Make The Way by Walking,” David Wilcox speaks of being relieved from ghosts of the past…”I walked a little bit further, and the walking set me free.”

There are bears in this area. About a half hour into this morning’s hike, I contemplated meeting one on the trail and I turned back. Had we confronted a bear, Lola and I would have been outmanned. But my fear was projected, and it evoked the question of justified versus unjustified fear. I elected not to be present to uncertainty. Wariness about a possible bear encounter is wise. Fearing it didn’t eliminate the fear; it escalated it. This morning’s fear was a metaphor for my shadow of desire to assuage all of the discomforts I feel inside.

I fear having nothing to say. When that comes up, it’s time to blog.

Published by jmlewisjr

Hello. This is Jimmy Lewis. I'm in Memphis, Tennessee. My golden doodle, Lola and I are leaving on a North American tour in May, 2021. We'll be traveling in a 2021 Jayco Melbourne 24L motorhome. We have neither time constraints nor exact destination specifications. We'll spend May in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and then head north through New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. If Canadians resume the practice of putting out a welcome mat for Americans, then we'll cross the border.  The seed for this journey began after my wife, Sarla passed away in May, 2020. Sarla was a yogi. An early yoga teacher of hers implored her to "Have what you need, and use what you have." As I prepare to close on the sale of our home on April 30, 2021, I'm deciding what I need based on the likelihood of using what I have. I give some things away without a flicker of feeling. When more meaningful items like the piano I inherited from my parents leave the premises, I feel like I'm saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time. Sarla's death lessened my attachment to the home we had enjoyed for 15 years and life as I knew it. I didn't need and couldn't possibly use a house that could satisfy the needs of a family with four children. I'll no longer experience residence, a concept identified with staying in a specified place, as I've heretofore known it. Life will never be the same, nor do I want to attempt to shape my future into a likeness of what I once knew.   I've set my sights on adventure. I want to be challenged by not knowing who or what I'll meet on the road. The outdoors is one of my default antidotes for stress. Other than my rig, I won't have an indoors base. Whereas others might opt to downsize so that they have the stability of a landing spot, I won't be able to go "home" as I've known it. I'm jazzed about the prospect of being at the whim of the muse, to go where my finger lands on turning pages of the Rand McNally atlas. My dog, Lola is indifferent even though I've been talking to her about the journey every day. She looks quizzically at me when I enthusiastically say we're hitting the road together. I'm confident that she'll do well. We've previously driven together to and from a destination 12 hours from home. She curiously gazed out the window and occasionally snoozed in the passenger seat. She didn't express displeasure about the podcasts and music selection that I chose to entertain and inform me while driving. This trip isn't driven by personal goals. Will I learn more about myself? Will I take advantage of the opportunity to reflect? Will I be lonely? Will I be uneasy? I'm motivated by a curiosity to follow the questions.

6 thoughts on “When I Have Nothing to Say

  1. Thanks for sharing openly and clearly. So much of this resonates with me. I’m grateful to be a spectator of your adventure. Get some bear spray. It may provide some comfort from the fear of the bears…but it won’t help with the paper tigers.


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