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  • So travel, at heart, is just a quick way to keeping
    our minds mobile and awake. As Santayana, the
    heir to Emerson and Thoreau with whom I began,
    wrote, "There is wisdom in turning as often as possible
    from the familiar to the unfamiliar; it keeps the mind
    nimble; it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor."
    Romantic poets inaugurated an era of travel because
    they were the great apostles of open eyes. Buddhist
    monks are often vagabonds, in part because they
    believe in wakefulness. And if travel is like love, it is,
    in the end, mostly because it's a heightened state of
    awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed
    by familiarity and ready to be transformed.
    That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs,
    never really end.

    Pico Iyer

    I am sitting on the small beach in front of my hotel, writing to you by moonlight so bright that the sand is sparkling like a sea of diamonds.

    It is late. Behind me, the random sounds of the village closing its doors on the day. Friends call out goodnight as they leave a party. Dogs bark and then go back to sleep. Blue shutters close. Far away, bouzouki music in a café and bursts of laughter.

    Smells of roast lamb, garlic, and wood smoke hang in the air. The polished sophistication of French gardens and Italian museums seems so far away. Here, it is fishermen, donkeys, colored nets drying in the sun, women hanging out their laundry in alleyways, and time is marked as kairos not chronos. Things take as long as they take. No pressure. No deadlines. No Swiss trains running on time.

    The little ferryboat to the mainland leaves when the Captain has had his lunch, some wine and a nap. No one complains. I am so happy, so at peace, my mind is going blank. I am in some spell of happiness.

    Because I am here on Corfu, of course I am rereading Durrell. And I will leave you with this passage:"The solace of such work as I do with brain and heart lies in this --that only there, in the silences of the painter or the writer, can reality be reordered, reworked and made to show its significant side. Our common actions in reality are simply the sackcloth covering which hides the cloth-of-gold -- the meaning of the pattern. For us artists there waits the joyous compromise through art with all that wounded or defeated us in daily life; in this way, not to evade destiny, as the ordinary people try to do, but to fulfill it in its true potential -- the imagination."

    I hope you are writing and painting, wherever you are. It is the ultimate salvation. By the way, I heard from a scholar here that the authentic translation of the word "salvation" is really "rest." Think of that! When we do art, we are saving/resting our souls.

    (Repost: Edited version 5-9-12)

    (Photograph by Alex in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)
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