Friday, July 27, 2007

My advice: travel!

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. –- Miriam Beard

This quotation hit me in the bread basket, as it were. Miriam Beard hit upon something that I have struggled to articulate ever since I took my Grand European Tour in 1999. Travel is, indeed, more than just the seeing of sights. It is the catalyst that invokes transformation. It is food for the growth of the mind and the spirit.

Setting forth on the Grand European tour

In 1999 I was four years divorced, somewhat established in my career as a technical writer, and, although lonely, more or less happy. Life was ambling along nicely. Then, in May, two close friends, Carey and Tena Cardon were killed in a climbing accident on Mt. Hood. This was certainly not the first tragedy I had experienced, but it affected me deeply. I suppose it was a stark reminder of my own mortality that brought about the soul-searching and painful examination we all experience from time to time. (Well, at least those of us that are not sociopaths. A future post will discuss my thoughts vis a vis George W. Bush).

Existential crisis ensued, causing me to arrange for a leave-of-absence from work (with the blessings of my fantastic supervisor and dear friend, Cindy Easton), sell my house, drop my cats off at Mom's place, and head to Europe, guitar and Eurrail pass in hand.

The following 10 weeks took me through a good part of Western and Central Europe, in a more-or-less clockwise direction, starting and ending in Amsterdam.

Arrived in Amsterdam

Over the course of those 10 weeks, I encountered a myriad of people and places, and gained a perspective of humanity that I'm still assessing to this day. It was a magical time and an experience that I hold as one of the most rewarding in my life.

From time to time, as this blog matures, I'll hearken back to this trip, and to others that I made before and since. But for now, let me just sign off with this advice: the rewards of travel are immense and immeasurable. Be forewarned! Travel will change you. Don't be afraid of it; embrace it. Once you've beheld the temple, conversion is assured...

Inside the Red Fort, Delhi India

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