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« Chapter 22. Border Crossings and Fallen Angels | Main | 20. The Mysterious Case of “The Shanghai Surprise” »
Tuesday
Oct042011

21. Rehab and My 20th Anniversary of Writing

“Don't blow your mind with whys.” Bloom - Radiohead

By the time I left Beijing and arrived in Shanghai, I felt like I was two drinks away from rehab. Ironically, when I arrived in Koh Samui, it felt like I was going to rehab.

Memories of Shanghai

The building on the right, otherwise known as the "bottle opener" is the third tallest building in the world. This is the view walking along the Bund.Today is October 3, 2011 and I have just broken an 8-day detox/fast. While hunger is still present, it is a distant memory, just like the modern skyscrapers of Shanghai with their use of negative spaces, arches, alcoves, turrets, waves, swirls, antennas like praying mantis, and shimmering mirrored glass that reflected the heartbeat of China’s most modern city.

Shanghai will always hold a special place in my heart. The best nights in the city were filled with the laughter of friends over good meals and drinks in restaurants and rooftop bars. At night we slept in posh hotels that Lee Gong, our conceirge at the Lido Hotel in Beijing, had arranged. At the Grand Metro Park Hotel he got us suites where you could order different types of pillows off a pillow menu. On the last night that the four of us would be together we drank a bottle of Oban’s Scotch at Constellation 2, a Scotch bar in the French Concession, while Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong rounded out the soundtrack. The bathroom at Constellation 2 was almost worth having the lingering effects of diarrhea as the control panel of the toilet, with all its various buttons and knobs that dictated the strength of streaming water and the pressure of the drying heat, felt like you were driving the Millennium Falcon.

The best days (when not working) were spent roaming the city, bargaining with shop keepers at various markets, and going through false walls of shops that hid inner chambers where you could browse bootlegged DVDs, fake Armani belts or Mont Blanc pens, and knock-offs of Rolexes, Omegas, and other high-end watch brands. One day Daimien bought what he thought was a Ben Sherman shirt, only to realize when he got it home that the tag actually said Bobby Snowmen in the same font as the Ben Sherman brand. “That’s funny,” he said over a vodka drink. “It makes me look like even more of a douche bag.”

Antennas like a Praying Mantis. Nainjin Road, Shanghai.Shanghai, much like Beijing, is full of malls and it was interesting to see a Starbucks in the Golden Bridge Green Sports and Leisure Center, a mall in the heart of a wealthy expat area of Puxi. It was close to near where Daimien and I stayed at the Grand Metro Park Hotel. It was reassuring to know that you can always count on some things being the same, no matter where you are. Inside the green and white hallowed halls of Starbucks, the scene was the same as say—a Starbucks in Bellevue, Washington or Short Hills, New Jersey. During the day, attractive western women of leisure dressed in their tennis whites and drank iced-soy lattes while discussing the merits of their salon, all the while complaining about how hard it was to get good help. In the meantime their husbands were at work padding their bank accounts with the profits of products or technologies their western companies produced and marketed in China.

One afternoon we rendezvoused with another Seattle friend named Drew at the downtown Shangri-La Hotel for Dim Sum. Drew’s Chinese buddy Tola, who was a foodie and not for lack, accompanied us and told us we were eating the best Dim Sum in all of Shanghai. Afterwards we drove to a camera market where several of us purchased new cameras or accessories, and after that we drove around Shanghai in Tola’s brand new Mercedes, all the while trying to hold our breath because someone in the car had what might be categorized as offensive body odor. It was as funny as it was nauseating. I won’t mention who, but to give this person the benefit of the doubt, it was a hot day in Shanghai and 6 of us were piled into the Mercedes. I will advise him, however, to let the organic deodorant go. It’s not meant for everyone.

The view from our top floor suites at the Grand Metro Park Hotel, far out on the Puxi side of the river.I will always remember fondly bar hopping and walking aimlessly through the tree lined streets of Shanghai’s French Concession at night. On other days we walked through People’s Park and down Nainjin Road, a wide thoroughfare that is the epicenter of Shanghai shopping. No cars are allowed on Nainjin Road and every western brand you can think of has a storefront. And of course there was the past time that never got old, observing the endless legs of Chinese women in their ever-so-fashionable high heels.

But as I said, like the skyscrapers that seemed to defy gravity and physics, all of that is a memory now. My next stop was Koh Samui by way of Bangkok.

Ten Days in Rehab on Koh Samui

After spending a night at an airport hotel in Bangkok, the following morning I boarded an 8am flight bound for Koh Samui. At the time of boarding the flight I still didn’t know exactly where I was going. After a gluttonous month in China, I wanted to do a detox/cleanse program (and maybe lose a few pounds) but could not decide between two places—one on the island of Koh Samui and the other on Koh Phangan. As I may have mentioned before, I can decided in a split second to move my life from New York City to Seattle, or to put my belongings in a storage unit and travel for an undetermined amount of time, but when it comes to booking a hotel room or ordering something on a menu, gripping paralysis overtakes me.  

Doing time in rehab.It was a fact that to get to Koh Phangan it would require a little more effort and it was slightly more expensive, but it had rave reviews on Trip Advisor. Koh Samui I imagined would be crowded and overrun with tourists, thus providing too much temptation to skip the detox and just "tox."

Out of mostly indolence but also value, I finally decided to stay on Koh Samui. At the airport I boarded a bus that would either drop us off at Big Buddha pier to catch the ferry to Koh Phangan or drive us to our hotels on Koh Samui. Two cute Dutch girls who looked like fun got off at the Big Buddha pier and I immediately backpedaled on my decision to stay on Koh Samui. The Dutch girls were the only people on the bus that looked like my type of people, not to mention I’ve never met a Dutch person I didn’t like. The remaining people on the bus were either Chinese tourists or looked like lazy, well fed Americans and Europeans who might be on their way to an all-you-can-eat resort. Internally I began to panic and wondered what I was doing going to a detox center when I had just arrived in Thailand, the land of beach parties, excess, and well—Thai food.

When I checked in at the Health Oasis Resort I had already made up my mind it wasn’t the place for me. My skin was crawling as if I was a junky on my way to rehab, already itching for my next angry fix, and so I told myself I was only going to stay a night and head to Koh Phangan the following morning. No sooner had I sat down to order breakfast then I was invited to the table of some nice people, and after talking to them about the detox program and observing how happy they seemed to be—not to mention they had survived 8 days of fasting—I decided to stick it out.

Breathing a great sigh of relief, post-breakfast I walked the ten steps to the resort’s private beach and consumed myself in the remainder of Mary Karr’s book, Lit. Her words and the gentle, lapping waves of the Gulf of Thailand washed away all of my anxiety about being in rehab—err, ah, detox. You would think I would learn by now, but despite there being very little sun, by the end of the day my cheap Irish skin was as red as a steamed lobster on a Nantucket beach at an August sunset picnic.

After reading for some time I looked up to see two Thai women wrapped in saris and they were not hiding the fact that they were checking me out. They were playful with each other and flirtatious in their actions and began taking off the top of their bathing suit and rewrapping themselves in their saris. From a distance I could vaguely make out what looked like a lovely set of perky little breasts. Well this is interesting, I thought to myself. However, something seemed slightly off, but then again I wasn’t wearing my glasses.

A little while later I went for a walk on the beach that lasted exactly 48 minutes and 16 seconds. I know this because I was listening to the last song on Wilco’s latest album exactly 4 times, and the song clocks in at 12:04.

On the walk, once again I saw the girls and when I was asked a question by one of them, I only looked at the one who was addressing me.

“Hey, where are you going? What are you doing?” she said in a cute Thai accent.

“Just going for a walk down the beach.”

My office.Then my eyes fell on her friend, the one who had been more readily showing her breasts, and it was at that moment that I saw her cheek bones and strong jaw line, and it was then that her grotesquely masculine features came into focus. My stomach went into an extreme upheaval like when you hit and air pocket of unexpected turbulence on an airplane, and despite being on my last day of Ciprio (a strong antibiotic to take care of the aforementioned symptoms in the previous chapter), for a moment my breakfast almost came back up.

This was my first introduction to the Thai-lady boy, or what I will affectionately call from here on out as his’ers. They are not exactly a he, and they’re not exactly a she, which honestly just leaves me just confused. But this is one instance where I’m not curious enough to find out what’s really going on down there.

Backtracking—20 Years of Writing

It’s September 29th, 2011 and I’m at the Health Oasis Resort in Koh Samui, Thailand. It’s been four days since I’ve eaten anything solid and despite not having a thing in the world to do, I am kept busy every hour-and-a-half taking psyllium, bentonite shakes, spirulina, guarana, tonics, colloidal silver, and various other supplements in pill or tincture form.

As I write this I am sitting in the restaurant of the resort looking out at palm trees, the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, cumulus cotton swab clouds, and the sleepy islands of Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and Koh Phaluai, each shrouded in a distant haze. I’ve been dreaming of sitting on a beach and doing nothing since mid-May when I was landlocked in India about 6 hours north of New Delhi.

I love achievable dreams.

Beyond today being one day away from the first day of October and 4 days away from when I can break my fast, today marks the 20-year anniversary of the first time I laid pen to paper. Besides living I haven’t done anything for 20 years. The closest second has been soccer, which clocks in at 18 years of competitive play.

Contained in my three-ring notebooks are the last 20 years of my life in all its forms of beauty, transcendence, ugliness, and despair. More than 3,500 pages chronicle my life, some pages stained with beer, some with ketchup or the remnants of other late night munchies sessions, some with candle wax, and some with the tears of my heart and the inevitable pain of existence—but every entry is marked by a date and time.

If someone were to look at these pages 100 years down the road, it’s all there; a snap shot of the interior life of a teenager who became a man during the dawn of the 21st Century. My lifetime has seen the emergence of the personal computer, the move from the rotary phone to the cordless phone to the smart phone, the Internet, digital music and content, as well as the iPod and the iPad, YouTube, Facebook, electric cars, the mapping of the human genome, the charting of ocean currents (quite by accident when in 1994, 34,000 ice hockey gloves were swept overboard from a Korean cargo ship during a storm in the Pacific and the gloves were found everywhere from Vietnam to Vancouver), Wikipedia, Google and Google Earth, an African-American President of the United States, and terrorism on the shores of the United States. When you think about all of the change we have seen in our lifetime, it’s astounding to be a witness to the period of history we are moving through.

At the tender age of 26, I crossed the threshold of the new millennium, an age I thought as a boy to be the perfect age to get married and start a family, but when I reached that point I was having way too much fun to even entertain that thought. I was living in New York City, didn’t have a responsibility or care in the world, barely able to take care of myself, and all the while complicating my life with thought, anxiety, and the irrational fear of whether or not I would ever get to where I wanted to be, or become who I wanted to be. The twenties can be a time of extreme fun, freedom, and excess, and yet the endless choices of where to go, what to do, and who to be can be paralyzing and asphyxiating.

While I generally appeared happy-go-lucky to most friends, coworkers, or acquaintances, there was a heavy sadness I carried around like a cannon ball chained to my leg. I felt stuck by life, so eager for the future, so eager to experience life, love, and all of the things that gave people I admired depth, a sense of expansiveness, and life experience. My mother was always worrying about me during these years no doubt saying countless rosaries for my spiritual discernment. I’m sure she recognized in me a restless soul and she knew all too well how easy it was for restless souls to get lost or go astray. As a woman of letters, in her infinite wisdom and in the only way she knew how, she once wrote a letter to me in 1996 in which she said, “Don’t be in such a rush for the future. It comes all to soon and takes care of itself.” And she was right. But as a junior in college, how could I have known or trusted that advice? What if the future didn’t take care of itself? While I wanted to believe what she said and while she was a woman of great faith, I lived in a shadow of her fear. The pearl of her wisdom was only something I would uncover with some age, heartache, wisdom, and maturity. (She would be happy to know I am in agreement with her in that it appears the future is taking care of itself.)

All those years what I was writing and dreaming about is what I am living and experiencing in this moment—what the future is currently taking care of; the freedom to go and be, the freedom to explore foreign lands and the interior regions of the self, the freedom to choose whom I want to meet, love, or forgive. The freedom that friendship provides, the freedom you experience through faith, the freedom to drink from the cup of life, and the freedom to walk my own path—to move through the journey and the search at my own speed and in my own accord.

My life and times are now chronicled in roughly 43-45 volumes of 70-80 page three-ring spiral notebooks. Over the years I have begun to organize them in larger spiral bounders, on the cover of each writing the volume number, the dates it contains, and for quick reference, the major milestones of that time period.

As a younger person this anniversary never escaped me and I would honor it every year by looking back and reading about who I was at various points throughout the years. Of course that is not possible being as I’m in Thailand, but even still, the last few years the date has passed unceremoniously and unnoticed. I’m actually quite surprised I remembered this year but seeing as the last few days (as well as the next few days) consist mostly of following the suns arch in the sky, time is moving slowly enough that I only had to write the date to take notice.

When I did look back, it seemed like I was becoming a new person every 6 months as my experiences shaped and shifted the perspective of what I thought, felt, and wrote about. I still in many ways find this to be true. The Dutch American abstract impressionist painter Willem de Kooning, when addressing the question of why his own work sometimes looked very different from year to year, said, "There's no way of looking at a work of art by itself. It's not self-evident—it needs a history, it needs a lot of talking about; it's part of a whole man's life."

The Process of Writing

I honestly don’t really feel like writing right now. I would much rather be sitting on the beach reading, walking, watching the waves, or dreaming up the future. I suppose that is one good thing that time, maturity, and the pain of the last few years (and thus the wisdom of those seeds) has bequeathed me—I don’t look back as much. When you’re always looking back, you can’t see what’s in front of you.

When you’re a writer, however, or any artist for that matter of fact, it can sometimes be hard to just be. There is an internal voice, critic, and coach that is always saying, you should be writing, you should be chronicling, you should be creating, and this voice can actually be quite maddening. I had imagined when I arrived to this detox resort, I would be writing feverishly every day—catching up on the trip, reflecting, getting ahead…as if you can ever get beyond the present moment, but instead I have found as many distractions as possible to avoid writing.

And as I sit down to write at this moment, after putting it off for the last 4 days, I am not actually writing for you, my dear reader, but for myself. As my friend Bhuvan in Dehradun, India told me, one of the three things most successful people do is take time to themselves as a ritual. When he said this, he did not necessarily mean successful in financial terms, but successful in terms of happiness and evolving as a human being and spirit, because I think evolving is key to our happiness and well being. Stagnation is a recipe for discontent.

I am forcing myself to write this morning because there is something bubbling beneath the surface that wants to make it’s way out. Maybe it has something to do with the toxins I am releasing from my body, but it feels more of an emotional nature. More likely it is just the need to express something that dwells in the shadows or peripheral of my internal world.

The need to be expressive, which I would argue is the root of most artists, is much like a geyser or a volcano; it is always boiling the elements of the universe beneath the surface while looking for a way for the molten rock and sulfur dioxide of life’s experiences to escape. Artists do this because what is beneath the surface is the formless magma of feelings and emotions. In the formlessness is an aspect of life that we can’t quite grasp, understand, or accept, and so we throw ourselves into the fiery cauldron so that we may exorcise that feeling—for when we do release it, that which came from the inner earth of our being comes in contact with the world. In the chemical reaction that occurs, that which was liquid and amorphous becomes solid, tangible, and knowable in its new form—and hopefully if the artist is successful, what he or she creates is relatable and identifiable to his or her audience.

Many times I avoid sitting down to write like I may avoid an uncomfortable conversation. It can put you through emotions and experiences that can be unpleasant, but much like the result of that uncomfortable conversation, more often than not it winds up clearing the air and can be quite liberating.

I am forcing myself to sit down right today, throwing myself into the process, because something the painter and photographer Chuck Close once said is ricocheting around my head, and like him, I know it is only through process that one can uncover ideas:

"The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

Beyond the major life experiences of the times I’ve fallen in love and/or consequently gotten my heart broken, and beyond the experience of seeing my parents slowly decay from prolonged diseases, the innocent act of putting pen to paper as a 17-year-old on the night of September 29th, 1991, would have to rank in the top 5 most significant events of my life. It has created an entire realm of how I classify and experience the world.

I won’t write about that particular night or why I started, because it has already been said in 2006, but I will say that I can still very clearly see that 17-year-old kid laying on his stomach in his bed, propped up by two pillows, writing night after night about the countless new experiential bombardments that fuel adolescent innocence, curiosity, and mischief.

But beneath everything I wrote there has always the question, why? Why here? Why now? Why me? Why these people? I think when the Creator created the universe in one blinding flash, when it started as something you could hold in your hand and exploded in a flash of ever expanding light to create the universe at a rate of 10-30 of a second, He (or She for the feminists out there) probably said;

One day far in the future and when the evolutionary conditions are right, all of these elements, particles, and atoms will blend and evolve to form Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen, and from these elements life will be created. I will call this process ‘The Tendency Towards Complexity.’

Contained in each aspect of life and the ever-changing, ever-shifting landscape of cellular evolution, I am going to write a source code made up of proteins and amino acids and call it DNA. The most highly evolved DNA will come to form and be the blueprint for human beings. Humans, being the highest and most evolved complexity, will be the first form of life to critically look at themselves and their place in the universe.

The first part of the expression of this complexity's existence will look outwards at the world around it, and it will fight to keep its DNA alive and in existence. After several hundred thousand years when first cells then humans have formed communities to master the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, they will discover leisure and that will present a whole new complex set of problems. These problems will force humans to stop looking outward and begin looking inward, and there they will find the underlying code of their DNA. The puzzling reaction to seeing their surroundings for the first time through the eyes of self-consciousness and self-awareness will culminate in the expression of, Why? And just to keep them on their toes, for every box labeled ‘why’ that they open, I will put in the next box ten more questions.

Why must be the most hardwired piece of information encoded in our DNA. Each time I write it is like peeling away one layer of why from an endless onion; endless in that with each layer that is peeled I get closer to the core, and yet I know I will never reach it. This is why writing for me, when I do it how I personally consider it to be right (meaning I am in a space of flow where there is no struggle to find the words, but rather they flow through my consciousness as if channeled) it is a form of supplication. It is being in contact with something that is greater than me. It is like being in church or sitting on a mountaintop.

Of course I am well aware that what I am writing to you in this form is for public consumption. What I write within the faint blue lines of my college-ruled notebooks is something entirely else.

But much like why I am doing a detox for my body, writing is a way for me to find clarity and a deeper connection to the organizing energy of the universe, whether you want to call it God, Energy, Creation, Allah, Vishnu, etc. Writing is a way for me to be still and listen. It is a meditation. It is a way for me to clean the contact points so that I may get a better charge or a stronger signal—a way to be more in tune with the energies and information that flow around us. It is a way for me to make sense and organize the experiences of my life into a story that I can understand and digest. I love the way Mary Karr expresses her need to write:

“But humming through me like a third rail was poetry, the myth that if I could shuffle the right words into the right order, I could get my story straight, write myself into an existence that included the company of sacred misfit poets whose pages had kept me company as a kid.”

Writing is a way for me, as the Buddha would say, to be awake.

Mapless in Thailand

From here on out in my journey I need to be awake because I’ve gone almost as far as the map I was carrying will take me. For the past 5 months, while I lacked the details of a plan, I at least had a map. I knew I would be in India for roughly 3 months and I knew I would be meeting my friend to work as an ‘Assistant to the (International) School Photographer’ in August and September, and I knew that would take me to Vietnam and China.

In a few days I am meeting my friend in Bangkok and that will begin two months of travel. After that, however, I know nothing—and honestly, I’m OK with that. At least for the next two months I will have a fellow explorer to map the uncharted territories we both will survey, but beyond that I have no idea what life holds for me. I don’t know if I will go home or venture on further to Southeast Asia or the even the Southwestern Pacific. My existence for the past several months in this respect has very much been day-to-day, which I’ve grown quite fond of. In this existence, every day is a surprise and a gift, and in this existence as I’ve stated, I continually try to fall more and more deeply into the idea of surrender.

The Idea of Surrender

One day in a coffee shop in Shanghai, while waiting for a cup of liquid beans, I began browsing the shop’s book exchange. I was looking through all the titles when Lit, by Mary Karr jumped out at me. I remembered the book because I had listened to an episode of Studio 360 on NPR where Alec Baldwin, playing the role of guest host for Kurt Andersen, conducted a great interview with Mary Karr.

Central to the theme of her book is the idea of surrender, which is central to the theme of my travels, of the story I am writing, and the personal experiment of consciousness, creation, and connection that I am conducting—because that is really what all of this is. Life is a great laboratory of ideas where you attempt to make concoctions and elixirs that work for you, and sometimes you fail miserably, sometimes you succeed triumphantly, but all the while you're learning, learning, learning.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that I found this book, just like that last two books I read had the same line in it; Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. You can look at a happenstance like a book on a bookshelf jumping out at you as a matter of coincidence or purpose. Your point of view is a matter of choice, faith, or philosophy—or some combination of the three—and I’m not saying my view is the right one. It’s simply a choice I make and an idea that I find to be more empowering and enlivening than looking at life as happenstance and coincidence.

I say this from the circumstances that have arisen since my decision to surrender in Chapter 2, and the resulting experiences that have occurred ever since I moved into this idea of travel just over a year ago. Each time an impediment appeared that seemed like it was going to make the whole house of cards collapse, I said with the innocence and belief of a fool, ‘I surrender—something better will come along.’ And sure enough, each time a solution I could never have designed would appear.

Whether it’s people, words in book, a butterfly landing on you, and so on and so on, I find if you are in tune with your surroundings and feelings there are always signs that appear in the most uncanny light or fashion. I think the poet Charles Simic encapsulates this idea best in line from his poem, St. Thomas Aquinas; “…Everyone I met wore part of my destiny like a carnival mask.”

I’m not sure you can really wrap words around the idea of surrender. I think you can describe the concept and intellectualize the idea, but otherwise it is one of those life experiences like love or faith where it can only be known through practice and experience. I only know my experience of surrender but I would imagine the experience is somewhat different for everyone. The idea of surrender is like turning on the FM radio bandwidth, but each person must turn the dial to his or her own station until they get a clear signal with music or programming that feels right.

I suppose one thing that this bandwidth of surrender has in common is that you must remove the intellectual and rational element of thinking, which has always proved to be difficult for me. We quite naturally want to be problem solvers, always running through scenarios in our heads, trying to figure out the “how” of how we will accomplish something or get somewhere, but the “how” is precisely what we must surrender.

In Lit, while Mary who is an alcoholic going through a particularly low point in rehab, she is constantly fighting the idea of surrender until someone she meets in rehab says to her, “Yield up what scares you. Yield up what makes you scream and cry. Enter into the quiet. It’s an empty football stadium with all the lights on. And pray to be an instrument of peace…If God hasn’t spoken do nothing. Fulfill the contract you entered into at the box factory, amen. Make the containers you promised to tape and staple. Go quietly and shine. Wait. Those not impelled to act must remain in the cathedral…”

I have by no means mastered this art, but I am walking this path and merely describing my own experiences. But almost daily I am struck and/or humbled by something someone says or an idea that seems to come from nowhere which is completely in synch with what I am working on or working through. Whether I listen is another story.

An Admittedly Disjoined Closing (But Admittedly I Want To Move On And I Don’t Want To Look At This Anymore)

From the time I sat down to write today, or from the time I first picked up a pen 20 years ago, it has all been about the process and the practice. And in the process and practice of writing and traveling, I am certainly not the same person I was when I left home 6 months ago—or when I picked up the pen 20 years ago.

I keep finding that one of the gifts one receives in the act of traveling or in the practice of art is that you have the time to view your life through a kaleidoscope. Wherever you are, you can look straight through the lens of your life, and yet all the while—consciously or unconsciously—your mind can’t help but process the endless mirrored images of people, perspectives, landscapes, and ideas, and without one even being aware of it, this creates seismic shifts in the soul. Specifically the experience of travel lets you see that there are an infinite number of ways to live one’s life, and more importantly, you get to see how much more you have than the rest of the world. This nurtures compassion and gratitude not only for others, but also for oneself. Among other things travel provides, Mark Twain nailed it when he said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

There are countless reasons why we set out to travel; escape, exploration, curiosity, love, art, creation, research, boredom. Regardless of what we do outwardly or where we find ourselves in our travels, inwardly the shifts one experiences cannot help but shake up one’s internal compass, and one cannot escape travel without creating some new form of magnetic north.

Whatever the reason travel pushes you out from your home and comfort zone, I have found travel provides countless opportunities for transformation. And who does not want to transform? It seems to work for the butterfly. I think transformation is one of the three pillars and propellants of artists, one of which we’ve already touched upon; expression, transformation, and transcendence. Transformation—like life, like travel, like art, like the chemical reactions that occur at cellular levels—is a process and a practice. And like faith, it is not passive but active.

Next stop, Bangkok.

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments (1)

i'd suggest taking a bus from there, no flying.

October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

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