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There’s Nothing Else

By Andrew McCarthy

I once heard the ebullient travel writer Don George say, “There’s one trip that changes every traveler’s life.” He was referring to that sojourn that marks a reckoning of life “before,” and then “after” – a journey that changes the way we see the world, or see our place in it.  A five hundred mile walk across the north of Spain along the Camino de Santiago was such a trip for me.

I began my journey the way most of us enter upon life’s momentous transitions – with no awareness, no preparedness, of what was before me. Yet how could I possibly have known what was to come? Isn’t the purpose of entering the wilderness of our life a journey into the unknown with the intent of emerging from it altered?

Paul Theroux, the man who rewrote what the modern travel narrative could be, once claimed, “You come back, but never all the way.”

Travel changes us, that’s the point.

That singular moment of discovery by the side of a barn in the high meseta under a blistering Spanish sun outside the dusty village of Castrojeriz changed my perception of everything that had come before, and equipped me for life after, in a way that might never have happened had I not left the supposed safety of home. I saw, in an unwitting flash of emotional light that went to the center of my being, precisely the way that fear had ruled me—and to a degree that I had never been previously aware. With that insight, I was liberated to choose a different way to walk through time.  There was before, and then there was after.

Bold travel has the power to obliterate our fears and preconceptions if we allow it. Mark Twain famously said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness.” In this complex moment in our history, it would be difficult to find more openhearted and practical wisdom.

So take the plunge into the unknown, make that Grand Tour around the edges of your comfort. The great American playwright Tennessee Williams summed it up for us when he wrote, “Make voyages! – Attempt them! – there’s nothing else…”

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Tuesday, March 28 at 7pm
Barnes & Noble Union Square
In conversation with Gayle Forman
33 E. 17th St., New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, March 29 at 7pm
Barnes & Noble
Vernon Hills Shopping Center
680 Post Rd., Eastchester, NY 10583

Thursday, March 30 at 7pm
Books & Greetings
271 Livingston St., Northvale, NJ 07647

Saturday, April 1
Texas Teen Book Con | Houston, TX

Sunday, April 2
Alamo Drafthouse | Austin, TX

Monday, April 3 at 7pm
Books, Inc Opera Plaza
Not Your Mother’s Book Club
601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94107

Tuesday, April 4 at 7pm
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925

Wednesday, April 5 at 8pm
Live Talks LA
In conversation with Pico Iyer
Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre, New Roads School
3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404

Thursday, April 6 at 7pm
Elliott Bay Books
1521 10th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122

Friday, April 7 at 7pm
Powell’s Books
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR 97005

Sunday, April 9 at 5pm
Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008

Monday, April 10 at 7pm
Boswell Books
2559 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211

Tuesday, April 11 at 7pm
The Book Stall at Chestnut Court
In conversation with Betsy Bird
811 Elm St., Winnetka, IL 60093

Wednesday, April 12 at 7pm
Talk of the Stacks Series
Hennepin County Library
Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Thursday, April 13 at 6:30pm
Parnassus Books
Hillsboro Plaza Shopping Center
3900 Hillsboro Pike #14, Nashville, TN 37215

Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30pm
Rainy Day Books
At Woodneath Library
8900 N. Flintock Rd., Kansas City, MO 64157

Wednesday, April 19 at 7pm
St. Louis County Library
With The Novel Neighbor
1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63131

Thursday, April 20 at 7pm
Georgia Center for the Book
With Little Shop of Stories
Dekalb County Public Library
215 Sycamore St., Decatur, GA 30030

Friday, April 21 at 7pm
Books & Books
265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134

Tuesday, April 25 at 7pm
Barnes & Noble
Market Fair, 3535 US-1 #400, Princeton, NJ 08540

Wednesday, April 26 at 7pm
Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 02446

Monday, May 1 at 7pm
Darien Library
In conversation with Dani Shapiro
1441 Post Rd., Darien, CT 06820