Thursday, January 28, 2010

Isabella Bird - a woman with global values

Isabella Bird's adventures include travel from the eastern United States to Inner Mongolia. Her memoir, A Lady's Ride in the Rockies; Travels on Horseback in 1873, chronicles her journey on horseback through the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains of the United States. At the end of her adventure, Bird returns home to Britain from which she eventually escapes to travel again.

Even though during travel Bird experiences major changes in her values, before returning home in December 1874, eight days before leaving Colorado, she echoes the sentiments of Lord Byron then living in Italy, 'England, with all thy faults, I love thee still! I can truly say'.

During her fourteen-month journey in the USA, Bird candidly reflects on her own growth, on her undertaking to tell her personal myth, the story we each create for ourselves about ourselves.

Whether or not the stories are true is not the issue. The only question is whether what we write is our own truth. A travel memoir is written at least in part to put to paper the way the world looks from one 'uniquely idiosyncratic perspective'. In travel writing, as illustrated by Bird's letters, the subject is not only the locale in which one is traveling, but also the author herself.

Alan Elms in Uncovering Lives: The Uneasy Alliance of Biography and Psychology assures us that, 'only what is interior has proved to have substance . . . outer experience were never so very essential anyhow or were so only in that they coincided with phases of [one's] inner development'.

And you? What do your travels say about the substance of your values?

(click on the blog title for more info on Bird)