Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Home Thoughts from Abroad

Quotations from “Home Thoughts from Abroad” by Jan Morris


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“There go the swallows for Venice, the stout sea-farers –

Seeing those birds fly makes one wish for wings!”

So wrote old Browning, sitting in his English garden one spring morning, and Oh! I know too well that delicious pull of distant parts, foreign places and different ways of living. I have watched birds fly off too, as the drizzle falls out of a gray Welsh sky, the sheep in the field next door stand there hangdog and reproachful and whenever the telephone signs it seems to be somebody getting the wrong number – oh yes, I’ve wished for the wings of a 747 often enough, when the opposite of homesickness sets in!

And I know well, too, the delectable thrill of moving into a new house somewhere altogether else, in somebody else’s country, where the climate is different, the food is different, the light is different, where the mundane preoccupations of life at home don’t seem to apply and it is even fun to go shopping. Travel itself, after all, is largely a matter of enjoying differences – why else would those swallows migrate? Transferring one’s whole being – family, possessions, bank accounts, blankets, mixers and all – gives us the same pleasure in less restless form.

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Homesickness is the most delicious form of nostalgia, if only because generally speaking it really can be gratified. We cannot return to the past, but we can go home again. In my own case, homesickness is related to something in the Welsh language calls hiraeth. This over-worked word means literally longing, nostalgia or sometimes plain grief. It has come to signify, however, something even less exact: longing, yes, but for nothing definite; nostalgia, but for an indeterminate past; grief without cause or explanation. Hiraeth! An

Insidious summation of all that is most poetical, most musical, most regretful, most opaque, most evasive, most inextinguishable in the character of Wales.

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This powerful homing instinct is inexplicable. The old Welsh emigrants had left Wales because their lives there were poor and miserable, yet nothing could suppress the hiraeth within them, and nothing can suppress it in me, either. Nobody, I swear, has had more pleasure from traveling than I have, and nobody has pushed more eagerly through the door of a rented house somewhere far away. Yet the old sensation nags at me always, part sweet, part sad, part consolation, part reproach. Most expatriates, if you press them, will admit to something they miss, during their idyllic residences abroad: decent eggs and bacon for the English, a proper beer cellar for the Germans, the New York Times, perhaps, or cornflakes for Americans. For me it’s nothing so specific. A perceptive American once observed that a Welshman’s truth was in the nature of a circle, and similarly what I crave when I am living abroad is rather in the form of a blur.

It is the sense of belonging that I miss, together with infusions of historical awareness and sensuality…


So I stand with Browning, either way. When the swallows fly south I want to go with them, but when I hear that chaffinch calling, I need to go the other way: up our dusty, potholed lane, through the shabby old oak gates, into the familiar, the irreplaceable embrace of home, where there is no need for hiraeth, where love awaits me and the kettle’s always on the boil.”

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunset at Chimney Bluffs


I enjoyed a beautiful sunset at Chimney Bluffs State Park near Sodus, NY. To top things off we also brought the best takeout Jamaican food in town from LJ on St. Paul street. It was well worth the drive.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Watkins Glen



Took a nice little hike at Watkins Glen State Park, one of my favorite parks in the area. The drive down Seneca Lake was pleasant as usual. I love summers in upstate NY.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Effortless

Lately I have become obsessed with two words: horrendous, which summits up my current situation; and effortless, the state I want to be in.

Everyone knows that marriage is a compromise but there is no easy answer on just exactly how far one should go before forgoing too much. When I was younger I thought it was a good idea to date people who are different from me. I thought the variance in people’s temperament and interest complement and challenge them to be a better person. While I still believe this to be the case for building great friendships, a misfit life partner is like constantly climbing uphill with shoes that are two sizes smaller than your feet or training a bulldog to be a collie. Recently I was told that I am too self-centered for living out my life exactly the way I intend to. I take no offense to the accusation just as I feel no guilt for traveling and experiencing life while others thought I should have been developing my career and building a family. If I’m selfish for living the life I want to live, I plan to be selfish for life. People can criticize me but they can’t change me. I’m an independent person and I enjoy doing things on my own. I have no objection in sharing my life with someone who is equally passionate about life. "Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they're supposed to run wild until they find someone -- just as wild -- to run with." I need to find a male version of Rose with old world romance. Anything short of that I might as well live life alone, selfishly.

The almighty Segovia, once said it’s difficult to play badly, meaning if you’re playing wrong you’re probably also exerting too much effort. The right technique frees the players from tension and enables them to play effortlessly. For more information refer to The Natural Classical Guitar: The Principles of Effortless Playing. The same thing should apply for everything else in life. Why not take the path of the least resistance? The best relationships should be maintained effortlessly. Life should be spent enjoying each other’s company, not compromising.

Lately I have become obsessed with two words: horrendous, which summits up my current situation; and effortless, the state I want to be in.

Everyone knows that marriage is a compromise but there is no easy answer on just exactly how far one should go before forgoing too much. When I was younger I thought it was a good idea to date people who are different from me. I thought the variance in people’s temperament and interest complement and challenge them to be a better person. While I still believe this to be the case for building great friendships, a misfit life partner is like constantly climbing uphill with shoes that are two sizes smaller than your feet or training a bulldog to be a collie. Recently I was told that I am too self-centered for living out my life exactly the way I intend to. I take no offense to the accusation just as I feel no guilt for traveling and experiencing life while others thought I should have been developing my career and building a family. If I’m selfish for living the life I want to live, I plan to be selfish for life. People can criticize me but they can’t change me. I’m an independent person and I enjoy doing things on my own. I have no objection in sharing my life with someone who is equally passionate about life. "Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they're supposed to run wild until they find someone -- just as wild -- to run with." I need to find a male version of Rose with old world romance. Anything short of that I might as well live life alone, selfishly.

The almighty Segovia, once said it’s difficult to play badly, meaning if you’re playing wrong you’re probably also exerting too much effort. The right technique frees the players from tension and enables them to play effortlessly. For more information refer to The Natural Classical Guitar: The Principles of Effortless Playing. The same thing should apply for everything else in life. Why not take the path of the least resistance? The best relationships should be maintained effortlessly. Life should be spent enjoying each other’s company, not compromising.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Getting to Know Me

Some people wants to go back in time, some wants to live backwards. I’ve had mishaps but never a regret. Hindsight is always 20-20. Life moves forward in real time, no pause, no stop. More often than not, we have to make decisions based on limited information and mixed up emotions. Never was there a time when we’re completely informed, completely prepared and completely logical and objective. Split second decisions, regardless big or small, inevitably alter our lives. It’s unfortunate that no matter how close we get to someone we never know how they truly are. Only time will unveil misplace trust and unwise choices.

Understanding is not a fact or knowledge; it’s a feeling of intimacy on an intrinsic level. I know of two kinds of people: those who know me and those who don’t.

People who understand me respect and trust me unconditionally. Conversations flow like a clear stream with no resistance. We might have disagreements but the fundamental understanding never goes away.

People who don’t know me never will. They feel the need to sneak their way into my life through unjust channels such as reading me personal emails, going through my phone records and computer files. These people claim that they’re curious to find out more about me but in reality behaviors rise from lack of trust and understanding and even their own insecurities. Words are irrelevant when it comes to trust. People who believe me don’t need them and people who don’t believe me won’t believe my explanation anyways. I always say if you’re trust me, don’t ask. The truth is that I’ve written more revealing thoughts on this blog than many conversations I’ve had with people in person. My life is an open book for anyone who’s wants to read.

Many of you have been very supportive of my recent personal crisis. Thank you for your understanding. I hope my foolishness somehow brings you just a little bit amusement. And if that’s not enough excitement please stay tuned for the upcoming adventure episodes in December when I reunite with my best buddy, Rose, in Dusseldorf, Germany!!! Life can sometimes trip me up or slow me down but there’s no stopping.



The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

-- Robert Frost

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rock&Roll Hall of Fame

On the drive back from Indianapolis.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Clockwatcher

Life hasn’t been the same since I joined the National Association of Clockwatchers. Some people define their lives by their work. I’ve always defined mine by not working. People used count on me for stories of adventure, tuning into my blog periodically for my latest endeavors. There was a time when I took pride in not holding a 9-5 job. People respected me for my nonconformity or even at times bohemian attitude. Of course, not everyone felt that way, especially my parents and they don’t even know half of the story.

It felt like the end of an era when Jody called me out of the blue two weeks ago while he was having dinner with Rich. It has been over two years since I last saw them. I felt almost ashamed to inform them of my current status. I could hear the disappointment in his voice when Jody said “I was hoping you would pick up the phone in somewhere exotic like Argentina.”

People used to live their lives vicariously through me. Now I live my live vicariously through travel books and kayake.com.