On travel and clarity

It was a really lovely, really wonderful trip. London and Berlin were wonderful, beautiful, interesting, just splendid, really, and of course I went to many interesting places, ate lovely and delicious things and had myself a great time. But what is most marvelous about a voyage, for me, is the voyage-ness of it. Being solitary and independent in a new place. Juxtapositions of what you know against something new. Being strangely delighted by things like the names of new dishes or the strangely-named medicines in drugstores. Breathing new air, seeing new light. And of course, all of that in an atmosphere of freedom and relaxation. (Well, those are theoretical and relative…freedom is costly, judging from the cost of airfare and transport, and sometimes there is nothing much relaxing about trying to make it to your gate in Heathrow.)

This was the first vacation in a very long while where I didn’t let myself work. Not on anything: no job, no novel, no writing, nothing related to a keyboard or screen. I made sure to bring no laptop, no phone, no iPad, just an old-fashioned paper journal and pen. The only “connected” device I had was my iPod Touch, which was at the mercy of whatever wi-fi connection was available and accessible. I did feel strange twinges of feeling cut off, at first. But something else happened to replace it: I started to feel much more connected to the world, much more present in the moment. I even stopped taking pictures as much because I wanted to remain in this lovely river of awareness I found myself in. It was like a veil that I hadn’t been aware of was lifted, this layer of mental congestion, and I saw the world much more clearly and cleanly, floating along contentedly as moments led to moments, and hours passed without care or agenda. And it was just more fun, too, to have to wander places, ask questions of people because you were turned around and confused by all the winding alleyways, and wander some more because, Oh well, so you can’t find the place you were looking for, but here is a nice pub, why not pop in for a pint?…. Adventures great and small were to be had, and even when things went awry, it was a real pleasure.

Feeling relaxed yet engaged, alone but not lonely, lightly in touch with your self and the world around you, drinking all the Lindemans I could desire, having conversations with dear friends and the most dashing people you’ve met in ages…what more could I want from a vacation, other than for it to be longer?

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