Whenever I visit Central Otago, I always make time to go to the Boundary Road crossroads.
Made famous in the painting by Grahame Sydney, 'Boundary Road', this to me is one of the most stunningly beautiful places in Central. True, there are no lakes or rivers around that you can see, and the mountains and hills are distant, but this place intrigues and humbles me.
Usually when we go there, the road is quiet. The occasional car goes by, but mostly it is silent, just the crackling of the grasses and trees in summer heat, or crisp cold winter air that you can swallow by the mouthful like clear mountain snow melt in a bustling river.
I like to stand right out in the middle of the road, at the heart of the cross. You can hear a car coming miles off so plenty of time to get out of the way.
We often find ourselves at a crossroads, not only in life but also in our writing, where we must choose which way to go, not always knowing how that decision is going to turn out but understanding that the road will take us somewhere and the journey will probably be well worth it.
One particular dilemma for a writer is: 'Should I begin this project? Which way should I go, how should I begin?' There are choices and decisions to be made at these creative crossroads.
Sometimes we'll choose a path that doesn't work out. It's a dead end, a cul de sac where we have to make a u-turn and head back to the intersection, take another road. 'OK, let's try this one and see where it takes us.'
As disheartening as choosing the wrong road can be, I always remember a poem I was given very early on when I started writing. It's Ithaka by Greek poet C.P Cavafy and in it, he describes the journey one takes towards a destination. He begins,
'As you set out for Ithaka
Hope your road is a long one ...'
I think about this poem when I'm at Boundary Road, standing right in the middle of those four, dead straight roads heading off into four different directions. Which shall I choose?
Make the decision, take a chance, your choice, your writing destination.
Even if it turns out that the destination disappoints you, or is that dead end we dread, you will have taken the journey, seen and learned so much along the way. Choose your Ithaka.
'Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.'