At Night, Somewhere

Some of the pleasures of leaving your home and traveling to Somewhere are your encounters with the new, the unexpected and the strange. Why else travel? During her long life, the British explorer Freya Stark (1893-1993) traveled to many Somewheres. The following words appear in her Baghdad Sketches, 1932:

To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure. You have no idea of what is in store for you, but you will, if you are wise and know the art of travel, let yourself go on the stream of the unknown and accept whatever comes.”                                                                                                    

Whether you tiptoe one step at a time into the stream or leap into it with a big splash, your acceptance of “whatever comes” is crucial to living in the Somewhere. But often, especially if you travel alone, you may find that, in addition to to being surrounded by adventure, you also carry your aloneness, the awareness of being a stranger. Natives may welcome you, but you are still someone from somewhere else.

Read More

The Ministry of Information

We should be grateful to the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí, (1904-1989), not only for hundreds of his incomparable visions, but also for the dozens of the prescient, and usually witty, remarks he uttered during his time with us on earth. Probably the most well-known is: “I don’t take drugs. I am drugs.”

My favorite quote, however, is this one: “So little that can happen does…. For instance, when you order lobster in a restaurant, why don’t you get instead a telephone book on fire?”
Read More

Body of Fate

It seems natural that visual artists, painters, film makers and photographers, would be most interested in painting or photographing what they can see.  In other words, revealing what’s “real.

However, many artists are intrigued by what we can’t see, by what is hidden from our sight. We’re aware of the presence of something– in ourselves or out-there somewhere– but we can’t see it. How do we then give it a form; how do we reveal it so that other people can be as aware of its presence as we are?

Here’s a poem by the Nobel prize-winning Spanaird, Juan Ramón Jiménez  (1881-1958) that points to the heart of the matter (translated by Robert Bly):

I am not I.

I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

The first response of many of us is to demand answers: what in the world is he talking about? The spirit? Life after death? The soul? Reincarnation? Where do Jesus, or Buddha fit into all of this?
Read More