Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Eat, Poop, Be On Our Way: Diarrhea at Delphi

June 22, 2011

Maybe it was a bad piece of goat, in fact I’m pretty sure it was some bad goat… but who the hell eats goat in the first place?  Especially from some sketchy food cart on a filthy Athens side street.  But we were young and hungry and the tour-bus was about to depart on a three-hour ride to the mysterious Oracle at Delphi; and whatever was roasting there on the cart smelled, more or less, good… and looked, more or less, like Gyros… which was something we were used to from Greek joints in Chicago.

This was thirty-one years ago as I write, a twentieth birthday had in a cheap pensionne in Rome and a summer solstice sunset dropped softly into the Aegean in Corfu… and now a trip to the center of the ancient Greek world—of which I knew absolutely nothing—a couple of Jewish college boys blithely slouching toward pagan central.  Yet I never think of the summer solstice without thinking of the bittersweet birth of darkness—the longest day a birth (six months later) of darkest night; just as the darkest day in December births the light.

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Dr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

April 13, 2011

I met Carl Rogers in a bookshop in Paris.  Well, I guess I didn’t actually “meet” him, but I did encounter him, by way of one of his books, “On Becoming a Person.”

I was on my honeymoon, having been accepted into a doctoral program in psychology, knowing that my days working thanklessly at a movie studio were numbered, and living a free man in Paris feeling through a magical string of lovely September days, when I wandered into a charming bookstore with an open heart.

When it comes to ideas, I love a vast and wild tangle of possibilities, but when it comes to shopping, I hate malls and too many choices all lined up by focus-group-driven statistics to guess my behavior, exploit my fear-gripped psychology and divest me of my capital (be it time, money or spirit).  Thus when it comes to shopping, I love small places that are run by curators of things—shoe-sellers with soul, booksellers who pick a few gems.

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Soft Travel to Sacred Spaces

August 18, 2010

A friend who has had a rough couple of years sent me a mesmerizing birthday present:  Hard Travel to Sacred Places by Rudolph Wurlitzer.  My generous and thoughtful friend recently lost his wife, and the book is about a couple who had recently lost their son, traveling to sites sacred, profane, heartbreaking and ironic in Thailand, Burma and Cambodia while trailing their own unshakable angst-cloud.

We all try to have a good time, to live good lives; we struggle as to how to do this in the face of so-called “reality” (materialism, shallowness, impermanence, loss, decline and death); and we struggle to be effectively compassionate to ourselves and others when the road gets rough—in parenting, in work and love, in our harrowing and sometimes transcendent journeys through life’s cycles.

While my friends and clients come and go from all manner of far flung places (some rough and some posh) I’m generally content to arm-chair travel and whether it be five star dining in Paris or nearly dying in a Calcutta hospital I rarely wish that I had been there—it’s more like through my friends and clients I know that some part of me was there, is “there” (and I’m increasingly happy to live the narrower part of me, of us, who is wherever I happen to be).

I guess we’re all having different sorts of summers, and yet together there is ultimately one endless collective summer, some sum of all our parts.  One of my favorite passages in Hard Travel comes when Wurlitzer and his wife visit Tham Krabok (which means Opium-Pipe Cave Monastic Center), a sort of uber-detox haven for all manner of addictions catering to people from all over Asia and the world—hard core getting clean and sober (in the early days of recovery everyone drinks a potion of 150 secret herbs in the a.m., sauna sweats in the afternoon and then a group-puke into concrete troughs in the p.m.).

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Abby Normal

June 11, 2010

I went to sleep last night with prayers for Abby Sunderland in my heart.

I awoke to learn that she is okay, and I am delighted and relieved for that.

What I wish to say today is that Abby’s situation is a perfect confluence of the opposites (the very place where the transcendent, sublime, even divine is most likely to show up).

Abby’s brother sailed around the world alone—the youngest to do it.  Abby wanted to do it too, to get the crown of youngest to sail around the world alone.  Note how many opposites this collective focal point conjures: life and death, over-protection and under-protection, bravery and fear, equipment and nature, togetherness and isolation, young and old, water and land, safety and adventure, “good” parenting and “bad” parenting, giving up and keeping on, ego and oceanic oneness.

Given that my aim is to enhance consciousness toward the benefit of the collective, my personal opinions about whether or not, as a parent, I would let my own sixteen-year-old sail around the world alone (I’m nervous for him to start driving lessons) is at least partially beside the point.

I went to sleep with images of “pitch-poling” and “submarining” in my mind’s eye—the experts conjectures of what 25 foot waves in 80 knot winds might do to cause a sailor to hit the rescue-me button (a forty foot boat flipping end over end; nose-diving straight down the face of giant waves and capsizing into 50 degree water).

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April in Paris… or not exactly

April 24, 2010

While I am fortunate to have ever been to Paris at all, I have never been there in April.  Songs and movies seem to suggest that to be in Paris in April is pretty much to fall in love, but I’m hoping that being wherever we are today (with a little consciousness thrown in) might give us that April-in-Paris feeling, even if we’ve never quite had that April-in-Paris feeling, at least not in April and in Paris.

While much of Los Angeles virtually is a movie set, with even super-luxury houses having brick or marble facades and stucco along the unseen sides, no British Manor house or French Chateau would need to be approached from only one direction; but in Hollywood it’s all about what’s “in the shot,” and the rest be damned.

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Moving to where we already live

April 5, 2010

A recent post by Lindsey at A Design So Vast captured my imagination as it introduced us to her sister’s friend (and now Lindsey’s friend) Luana, who is spending a year with her husband and children living in France.

I suppose I’m something of a Francophile, as I’ve certainly fantasized my own year in Provence, working on some arcane novel that could care less if anyone would ever read it; but I’m also a bit of an Anglophile, fantasizing a year in London doing workshops on parenting or writing a screenplay.  Maybe I’m really more of an armchair traveler, loving to hear about my friends and clients’ adventures from Tibet to India, from Europe to South America while not really wishing all that much that I could go.

I found Launa’s story, and her languid and leisurely blog, both a gift and an affirmation of my own life at the moment.  Things sounded enchanting, but also difficult.  She speaks of one or another in the foursome being the wonky wheel on the market cart, and I could all too easily relate to the ruined moment, whether in the Marais or the mundane Monday meltdown at home sweet home.

So, my thought was to invite myself (and anyone who cares to join) to re-imagine life today as if you were from France or Brazil… Imagine if your home, the local market, the cars, TV and radio, the things people say, do and wear, the local flora and fauna were all exotic and utterly new and unfamiliar to you.

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Leaving Las Vegas on Passover

April 2, 2010

As readers may recall, when offered a weekend father-son bonding trip anywhere within a few hour plane ride my younger son chose Vancouver.  My older kid, nearly sixteen, was inclined to pass on the opportunity altogether—no way to Santa Fe, hell no to San Francisco… Portland, Seattle or Phoenix?  He sooner have snot in Kleenex.

Finally, given his interest in both gambling (at least in our parentally questionable ventures to the Santa Anita Race Track) and good food, I proposed Las Vegas.  He was all in.  As for me, Las Vegas ranks somewhere just below dental work and just above exploratory surgery.

The drunken woman on the airport shuttle singing, “You must have been a beautiful baby” set the tone right off the bat.

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On the road… with my kid

March 10, 2010

Recently Andy thought it would be cool if I took each of my boys on a separate weekend trip and she suggested I make that happen.  My younger son, Will, was first up and we just got back from our trip.

The plan was to simply pick a place we both wanted to go, provided we could find cheap flights (or drive) and then just go there and see what we might find.  He was keen to leave the country, and I had always wanted to check out Vancouver so that’s what we chose.

Both being big fans of Flight of the Conchords, it seemed apt timing to arrive in town just after the crowds and the Olympics had left.  But that’s the way we roll.

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