The World is a Book // Trina O'Gorman September 29 2016

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine 

When my husband of 16, almost 17 years, suddenly left our family in July 2014, I felt lost and alone. My two sons were traumatized and so was I. I’m not quite so sure I’d ever felt so alone and frightened in my entire life, and I couldn’t figure out quite how to keep my little ones’ hearts from breaking into a million tiny pieces. 
Friends reached out, as friends do. They advised. They provided shoulders to cry upon. They tried to help. We know great people. But at the end of the day, everyone went back to their own lives, as people do, and we were alone once again. The absence of a single person can rip a hole bigger than the space they once occupied. 
To try to understand and heal, I wrote. I wrote furiously. 
In the midst of the tumult and turmoil, I came across the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, as it was called at the time, and as a result found a Facebook user group. I loved connecting with other people who loved recording their own lives in notebooks. I found myself drawn to those who were using them as travel journals. Our own traveling had come to a halt. I longed for it though. There’s nothing like traveling to make you feel a part of the world. 
Our traveling notebook is a single regular sized Midori grid insert. 
If we couldn’t travel, I decided a notebook could do the traveling for us. I thought it would be amazing for the boys to send notebooks to people around the world to learn about the world. So, in the winter of 2014, we sent out three notebooks. Sadly, of those three, only one notebook made it back to us. Not only did it make it back, but it had made it all the way to Carla in Kempsey, New South Wales, who told us about the kangaroos that actually hopped around on the beaches and golf courses. Our house was alive with a positive buzz, as the boys looked at the photos she’d included and read about Kempsey. 
The first entry about Kempsey, New South Wales 
It was fun to check a map to see where Kempsey was in relation to us. I thought it would be great to track the notebook’s journey. For Christmas, my parents gave the boys a large, beautifully framed wall map, which we hung prominently in the living room. We have three different color map pins. White marks the places to which we have traveled. Red marks the places we wish to some day visit. And black marks all the places that our notebook travels to. 
Our wall map marks all the places our notebook has been. 
It took an act of faith to send the notebook out again, as it was the only one that had been returned. We were so afraid we’d never see it again and the story of Carla and her horses and dogs would be lost forever. But we were assured it would come back to us, and so we sent it off again. This time to Andreai in Brazil. We were delighted to one day open the mailbox and find it there with colorful ribbons streaming from it. The ribbons are called “fitas do bonfire or Bahia bracelets. In Brazil, they are symbols of faith and luck in remembrance of the savior of Bahia. The tradition holds that one is to tie three knots in a bracelet and with each one make a wish. The ribbons are often worn as bracelets or tied onto backpacks. My sons tied a few around each of their violin cases before a violin competition that next summer for luck. 
There is so much rich tradition around the world. Bahia bracelets from brazil stream from our notebook. 
Our notebook next went to The Netherlands and we learned a lot about the tiny village of Den Ham. Anja told us all about this lovely little place. The photos make it look quite quaint and picturesque. This prompted us to look up even more information about The Netherlands. 
It took a while for us to feel inspired to send the notebook out again. Each time we do, we feel we are risking never getting it back, and as it grows fat with stories of different places from all of the amazing hosts, it becomes more precious to us. Eventually we did let it go again. This time to Soraya in Los Angeles, who would tell us about Malaysia and Los Angeles. She added teas and recipes. There was even a piece of fabric to touch. I was once again moved to tears by the willingness of people to share some part of themselves with us. Soraya sent the notebook back, fat and colorful and filled to the brim with enthusiasm and information. Our hearts were so touched and uplifted. 
We learned about Malaysia and Los Angeles from Soraya. 
Most recently, our notebook just came back from Canada. This last journey was hosted by Sherry, an online friend who has taken a number of my journaling workshops, and who has somehow managed to bring a special light into our lives. At the end of her contribution, she wrote “Come and visit anytime - we have beds for everyone.” And I believe her. Completely. And it made me cry. Again. It makes me realize how simple it is to make amazing connections with amazing people when we open our hearts. We are all so capable of such love. 
With love, from Canada 

I suspect we will continue to send our notebook out when we come across the right hosts, and my hope is that it will continue to make its way back to us. If one is to consider the analogy, “the world is a book,” then it is one rich with love, color, creativity, and stories, and we are so moved and grateful for them. We hope to get the chance to read many, many more pages.