Learn the stories behind my stories as I give updates, discuss literature, and share writing advice. Find all my writing at www.tylerdunning.com.
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Follow the Fox

Monthly Newsletter

January 2014

I have been on the move, writing less than the past 6 months have afforded me, but accumulating the life experience necessary to make stories possible. With this said, I offer you my first journal entry from my trip to New Zealand (a place that I still reside and will for the next few weeks). Cheers!


I’m trying to think of the emotion, a word to describe the inner symptoms mirroring my setting. The Santa Regina, a vessel connecting the gap between upper and lower New Zealand, vibrates in percussion with the engines compelling it across the strait. The ship is huge, its magnitude a testament to humanity’s ability to build that which usurps the parts of a whole, but its sea-sick sway a caution to the hubris of constructing beyond one’s means.

I’ve been looking to build a future as of late. I’ve been dreaming of a better decade as I prepare to exit my twenties.

The journey thus far has consisted of 44 hours of travel, 12 of these a family road trip from Montana to Las Vegas (followed by 3 days of furniture conventions and card tables). I then flew to LA, spent a quick 8 hours with friends, and caught an 11 hour flight to Fiji—middle seat, middle aisle. To my left sat a stoic islander, to my right a cute Brit brimming with wanderlust. I saw a ghost emanating in her eyes, a former self; I lamented the enthusiasm for life I had lost—enthusiasm like candy in your mouth, vanishing slowly with each new taste of travel. I was ready to want to be somewhere, to have a home, and yet there I was leaving again.

We exchanged stories, this Brit and me: hers hopeful, mine anecdotal. I knew we could have been friends, maybe in a different life, had countries and cultures been no different than houses on a block, time and distance obsolete. We shared our only hug when parting on the Fiji tarmac; it felt like holding an old belief system—her flaming wick trying to reignite the extinguished one of mine.

Fiji kept me for 9 hours, the night obsidian black upon a 4:30 am arrival. I looked into the abyss reaching for what my eyes could not grasp; the humidity weighing heavy on my skin suggested a clandestine jungle beyond. To be in a country and forgo its splendor seemed such a waste to the vagabond spirit I still maintained. But the airport kept me in its borders, the night in its mystery.

I tried to sleep but my biological clock rebelled; I tried to read but the words blurred when filtered through a traveler’s headache. I chatted to a kiwi instead, a man with long dreads and the tattoos of radical thinker. He was yet another ragamuffin that would do well in my imaginary town void of circumstances and hard truths. We connected on issues of conservation, travel, and the avoidance of the conventional. He spoke of his discontent with US policies; I refrained from telling him he probably knew more about them than I.

It’s hard to sometimes recognize internal problems when you’re stuck in the midst of them.

Regardless, he was a kindred brother I would never see again. But this is how I take my friendships: one day at a time, one hour at a time, ever evanescent. This, in a weird way, is how I prefer my friendships—less demand on an introverted heart I suppose.

The next flight sat me near crying babies, 3 in particular: one front and center, two on the periphery. It was torture to a tired brain harboring a headache. My disdain for this responsibility over another life reminded me I’m not ready to have kids. I do well alone, at home or abroad.

I arrived in Auckland by evening, to the adulation of awaiting friends (adulation inspired, if only, by the cessation of 2 hours of waiting on delayed flights and custom checks). I was immediately driven to a dinner party of a dozen old friends, some kiwis, some not. It was in this moment that I reflect on the uniqueness of the web I have spun and the things I have caught—to be blessed with the ability to continue a narrative with people unimpeded by the time between its telling, the world so accessible. We are all so connected—like ecosystems, like new friends on a flight and old ones on an island.

The next day, 4 of us drove 9 hours down the north island to catch a ferry. It was astonishing how comfortable having my life in one bag felt: 38.5 lbs of my house (tent), bedding (sleeping bag), entertainment (books/journals), and clothing. I have had extensive training/practice at living with very little in volatile situations. The necessities become that which is revered and appreciated; the excess always falls away.

And this brings me back to the start: I’m trying to figure out what emotion this would be while sitting in the lobby of my ocean-bound ferry. There is a friend on each couch surrounding me, 3 of them sound asleep. They are peaceful and I can’t help but stare at their repose.

I want my emotions back. I want a tangible future. I quite possibly want a cure to this disease they call wanderlust. But it wasn’t traveling that created the ailments; conversely, traveling is a short-term solution to the growing discontent in my heart. I travel to distract myself from the hurt that being still causes, a temporary fix to the festering fears of being insignificant. But to be gone, to see important things, makes me feel important, if only for those fleeting moments when God seems possible again. The comforts I forgo on the road, the loneliness, is my penance for not having a better brain, one with balanced chemicals.

I talk of identifying emotions because I don’t feel them anymore, at least not to a recognizable degree. And this worries me. My challenge over the next couple months is to return home with them, to reclaim what is owed to me by means of nature, evolution, karma, and energy. And I know it's my own thoughts that have gotten me here, polluting my system with an unreactive heart.

I look to my sleeping friends; they are here for a reason because, as I said, if they were excess they would fall away. I am here for a reason because sometimes it takes a sojourn across the globe to acquire a distance necessary to recognize the problems at home and at heart.

I look to my sleeping friends, thinking I’m gonna chalk this one up to happiness, even if I can’t feel it right now. But I will. I will.

Thank you for subscribing and thank you for the support! Please keep reading my stories, keep “liking” them (even if you don’t), and keep sharing them. The more support I have now, the more leverage I’ll have later when I start approaching agents and publishing companies. Until next month, love & tear-gas riots.
Copyright © 2014 Tyler Dunning, All rights reserved.
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