Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I am the only person in my family (parents & siblings) who has never been tempted to go on a cruise. I usually blame it on my motion sickness when they bring it up, but to tell you the truth, even the shore excursions don't appeal to me. Ever since my sixteen year old self went on that first whirlwind tour of Europe with her Girl Scout troop, I have longed for a different kind of travel. I came back from that trip feeling cheated somehow, but wasn't sure why.
Eventually I began to realize that I learned a lot more about a place when I just sat in parks and sidewalk cafes, indulging in my favorite pastimes of eavesdropping and people-watching, than I did on bus tours or trudging through churches and museums. These nebulous feelings began to coalesce when I read Take Big Bites, by Linda Ellerbee. She has travelled the world over, but is definitely not your typical tourist. She actually prefers to travel alone, for she believes that when a woman travels with companions, she focuses her attention on them and their needs. It is only when she is alone that she truly begins to focus on her surroundings, begins to interact with the local people, and they with her.
Though I will probably never set off on a solo tour through China or India, I have made up my mind that the next time I travel, it will be with a different intention. I wish always to feel the way we did when we visited our grown-up Danish son (former exchange student) and his family, and were able to immerse ourselves in their family life and way of doing things. This week, when I flipped to a new page in my Under the Tuscan Sun datebook, I found a quote from Frances Mayes that sums up my feelings better than I could ever do it myself. She said "If you settle in, even for two weeks, live in a house, not a hotel, and you buy figs and soap at the local places, sit in cafes and restaurants, go to a local concert or church service, you cannot help but open to the resonance of a place..." I am all about opening to the resonance!
Monday, August 11, 2008
In case you haven't figured this out for yourself, I'm not a gen-u-ine hippie. I never used drugs, lived in a commune, or went to Woodstock. It's just that, until we found Wimberley, I was always such a fish out of water: the only one I knew who was trying to simplify when everyone else had gone into conspicuous consumption high gear; the only one in my group who drove a pickup when all my friends had BMWs; the only one in our neighborhood who actually worked in her garden (and did it organically!), when everyone else had hired a yard service, a fertilizer service and a pesticide service; the only one who voted for Al Gore when everyone I knew was gung ho for the Bush dynasty; the only one I knew who believed global warming was real; the only one I knew who thought gathering the family around the dinner table and allowing the kids to have free time for play, was more important than having them signed up for a different activity every day of the week, etc., etc., etc.
Of course, I was very insulated in the burbs in those days, only aware of my immediate surroundings, and not of the bigger picture. Thanks to my blog, and the ever-growing network of amazing people it has connected me with, I now realize that many of my long-held beliefs are starting to come of age. Now that we boomers are staring retirement in the face, and the economy has gone into a nose-dive, we are letting go of the compulsion to accumulate more and more "stuff", and are wondering if we really want to be burdened with maintaining a McMansion as we age. Finally I'm hearing a buzz about co-housing - something I've been interested in for years, but which was just too slow to get off the ground here in Texas. At last organic food is readily available and I no longer get sneers of ridicule when I refuse to use chemicals in my garden. Best of all, people are seriously beginning to think about where their food comes from, who grows it and how. Not only is there more support for the small family farm, I've even seen several websites popping up in support of a return to Victory Gardens, as a way of decreasing our dependence on fossil fuel. All in all I have to say, we've come a long way, Baby. But don't stop now - we still have a ways to go!