Tag Archives: travel

Being “There” — A poem about the Redwoods

“The Cathedral” cluster of trees at The Trees of Mystery, a Redwoods park in Northern California. Photo by me.

Before the last ice age, Redwood forest covered over 90 percent of the earth’s surface. The remaining strip, along the California coast, was literally decimated after the 1850 Gold Rush.

“It is estimated that old-growth redwood forest once covered close to 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of coastal northern California.[22]96% of all old-growth redwoods have been logged, and almost half (45%) of the redwoods remaining are found in Redwood National and State Parks.” (Read more here.)

So of the remaining 4 percent, only half of that is protected, and only 1/5 of that is actual old-growth trees. My, how things change. Still, the vestiges are glorious. The trees are beautiful, strong and silent beings thousands of years old. You stand there and can’t help but think of bears, Paul Bunyan, native Indians, and Lewis and Clark. The air is of the highest caliber, fresh and leaf-scented, full of high-grade oxygen. You want to breathe deeply, as you stare at the 10-foot wide tree trunks and look up to where the tip soars into the sky.

Last week I went to visit the Redwood forest in northern California. Walking along a state park trail, I started to think about writing a poem that encapsulated what I was feeling. About the sadness of the commercialization I witnessed at The Trees of Mystery. About how hard it is to truly to be in the wild, a place that has no trails, no nearby roads, no signs at all, and zero people. About how different things used to look, how different and more authentic and visceral life used to be. And finally, the dichotomy between the white man’s GAINING versus the old way of BEING, as outlined in Mother Jones’s illuminating 1980 interview with the Indian activist Russel Means. The natives did not own their land, did not seek to dominate, exploit or monetize it. We have carved it up, but boundaries on it, developed it, drilled and fractured it, until there is barely any THERE left.

There

Fifteen dollars to see the trees

Signs marked the path.

A group of Asian tourists asked

“Take our picture, please?”

The way back led, as it always does,

Straight into the gift shop.

Take a trinket home

Commemorate this trip.

Down the road about an hour

We stopped again.

The place was quieter, I heard some birds

And wondered aloud about the bears.

The trail was marked but once

To note it had begun.

We met no one else and felt surrounded

By nature’s presence, alive and well.

These trees were free to see.

Yet as I trod along the well-worn trail

And stopped where dozens must have stopped,

I turned and looked into the wilderness.

You know, the way the world once was.

No trails or roads. Just you and God.

Could I ever step into it? Would I die?

Man no longer knows the ways of plants, the signs of stars

Isn’t one with earth as he once was.

My path is paved; it leads on.

I turn, resigned to parking lots and roads.

This is, after all, a state park,

With rules and camping grounds.

It is not mine. It is no place

To be alone, for long.

On the ride out I hate

The comfort of my seat

The stagnant air.

I long to be back in time,

Wild and free, out there.

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Getting married, one year later

In a few days, I am going to celebrate my one year wedding anniversary.

I was never one of those girls who dreamed about getting married. In fact, I didn’t actually want to get married. I liked being totally independent, doing whatever the hell I wanted. A light sleeper, I couldn’t imagine sharing a bed with anyone. When I was younger, I was also more insecure, and I cringed at thinking about a man seeing me without makeup. I thought I would have to look good at all times or he would be totally turned off.

Maybe I have a higher level of testosterone, but I never craved intimacy or companionship. Nor did I want a different partner every night. I just didn’t mind being alone. I was just doing my thing. And I liked the spontaneity of my life as a young single girl in Las Vegas, and the fact that at any point in time, I could take off and move to Timbuktu.

Well, I did end up moving on a whim, to Miami. And I thought that my ‘young, wild and free’ lifestyle would continue, considering I was on South Beach. For about a month, as I met tons of random guys on the beach and palm-lined streets, I was heading in that direction. And then I met James.

Marriage does involve trade-offs. I did give up some of my freedom and some of that excitement that comes with not knowing where the night will take you and dancing til the sun comes up. Since I now have to think about things like the future, I can no longer just take off and move — although I still long to. I have to factor in his plans as well — his career, his obligations. And now I have a freaking pet, which is almost as bad as having a kid in terms of not being able to run off to Italy for a few months. Of course we can still party and we can still travel, but it’s just different. And I knew it would be.

I used to talk about this with my friend Emily, a wild redhead I used to party with in Vegas who just got married herself a month ago. We wondered if we would feel the same way at 33 as we did at 23. At what age would we get sick of dressing up and going out all night? Would we become cougars? We couldn’t imagine anything better than a night out on the town, getting tons of attention, feeling like goddesses.

But a couple years later, here we are. And we are both happy. Emily married an ornithologist and is about to spend a month backpacking through Eastern Europe. I am living in a cute art deco apartment right on the beach, with my sexy husband and adorable rabbit. And while I feel like I’ve had to give up certain things — as I think anyone who is married does, including sleeping with other people — here are some of the things that are nice:

He thinks I’m beautiful at all times, and tells me so. He rubs my feet, puts tanning oil on my back, gives me his opinions on all kinds of things from what to wear to what to do with my life, and agrees with me when I rant about the injustices of the world and the annoying habits of other people. He wants me to live my dreams. He would give up anything to make me happy. He makes me fresh-squeezed juice and fruit smoothies and macaroni and pretty much anything I ask him to, whenever I want it. He buys me presents. He loves my goofy side and all my quirks. We can share all sorts of inside jokes no one else would ever appreciate. He comforts me and praises me and makes me laugh and laugh at myself. He is someone to bike ride and kayak with and play Scrabble and paddleball with and do everything with. He understands me, not just the good things about me but the bad too. He makes me feel safe at night. He drives me around and pays bills and carries groceries and heavy things and fixes things and kills bugs and opens jars. He cleans and does dishes and works hard. He lets me nag him incessantly. He calls me out when I act like a spoiled brat. He sees me at my worst moments — when I’m being selfish or in the throes of PMS — and it’s okay. He accepts me at my strongest and my weakest. He is a hot date for anything — weddings, museums, dinners, parties, and yes, occasionally some dirty dancing in a nightclub. He tells me what looks good. He helps me to be less self-indulgent, and more selfless. To be more patient. He is someone to tell my dreams to, and fantasies, and fears. Someone to tell absolutely anything to. In short, he is my best friend.

And now, I find it hard to sleep alone. I like his scent and the touch of his skin. I like to feel his whiskers and muscles and rough large hands. I like knowing he is there beside me.

I know people who are both for marriage and against it. My little sister got married at 19 and now can’t wait to start a family. I know many women like this, who just love everything to do with weddings and marriage and family life and the home and domesticity. And there are others who wouldn’t dream of settling down, and who are living an awesomely adventurous lifestyle, traveling the world and partying every night.

I guess it’s hard to have it both ways, but maybe it’s possible. Maybe some day we can run off and travel the world together. At least we share the same dream, and we can make it happen together.

My magical, illegal, debatably unethical infiltration

That verdant landscape and pristine bodies of water between the parks? Really a parking lot.

All day long I was fixated on the map. I was sure there was a way to get from boring Universal Studios to the much more exciting Islands of Adventure. A way, of course, that didn’t actually involve paying for a ticket.

My family wasn’t listening to me. They were happily going from Jaws to Spongebob Squarepants 3D and back. My 10-year-old brother, Andrew, did desperately want to see the recently built Hogwarts Castle, home of the high-tech new Harry Potter ride, but my frugal father (who had snagged our deeply discounted passes off some Disney-scamming black market) would not oblige him. My husband, James, didn’t believe it was possible.

There was a part of me that wanted to put the “adventure” into Islands of Adventure, a part of me that was just as cheap and subversive as my father, and a part of me that felt there was something ironic about the idea of infiltrating a microcosm of our manufactured society. It felt like something David Foster Wallace would write about.

It was almost evening. I felt guilty about ditching the family on a family vacation, but sometimes people have to go and make their own path. Over some deep-fried amusement park fare, I again studied the map. In the space between the two parks there was a painterly terrain of green vegetation and a large blue lake. I assumed that the periphery of the park was guarded with a tall fence, perhaps barbed wire and surveillance cameras. I would have to crawl through acres of wilderness and take cover under what looked like low-lying trees if a helicopter were to pick up the trail, then climb an imposing fence.

I begged James to walk over to a far back corner with me just to scope things out. He reluctantly agreed.

We stood for a minute watching families take pictures in front of a large façade mural of the New York Public Library. There was a chain-link gate surrounding a ride to our left. James tried the little steel latch. It opened.

We walked through, thrilled at this first bit of luck. Suddenly, we were in what was apparently an employee parking lot — not, as the map had led to me believe,  undeveloped Floridian wilderness a la Lord of the Rings. There were small nondescript buildings, a few parked cars, and regular people walking about. “Act casual,” I hissed. “If anyone asks, we work at Dip ‘n’ Dots.”

No alibi was necessary. No one looked twice, presuming we were off-duty park workers. We passed a corner security office, guards standing out front. We turned left, then right. We didn’t know where we were headed, seemingly guided by an invisible Cheshire cat.

We crossed the street into another parking lot, bizarrely adorned at one end with a large funhouse mirror. A guard walked directly in front of us, and we followed him nervously. He was heading into the mirror! At the last minute, he stepped through a small, hidden hole beside it, through a gate hidden by greenery.

We stepped through after him and looked up to see the impressive entrance of Hogsmeade, the whimsical village leading to the great Hogwarts Castle. Happy families crowded into quaint-looking shops to buy overpriced wands; others lined up to buy pumpkin beer from fake wooden street carts. Magical.

“I can’t believe it!” We exclaimed, while still looking over our shoulders. Perhaps they were observing us on a security system and would pounce at any moment! I considered buying an overpriced Grinch sweatshirt as a disguise, but settled for putting on a hat. We threw our things in a locker and began hitting the rides with exuberant, triumphant glee.

But my family was still over at Universal Studios, wondering where we had went. I texted my older brother and urged him to join us. He bravely said he was on his way.

Meanwhile, James and I were having a blast. We rode in a log down a waterfall and snagged an awesome drop picture. We went on the giant green Incredible Hulk Coaster, screaming as we went upside down, feeling like teenagers. We got soaked on the Jurassic Park River Adventure and air-dried as we ran through Toon Lagoon.

Then my brother called – he had made it to Hogsmeade! We met up at the Hogwarts Express and I began eagerly telling him about all the awesome rides we should go on. “I’m going back to get Andrew,” he said, and to my disappointment, immediately left. I did very much want Andrew to ride the famous Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which I was saving for last. I hoped he would make it before the park closed for the night. But I wasn’t about to test my luck.

As we continued our coaster spree, I kept eagerly checking my phone. Finally, I got a call. My brothers had been apprehended. Apparently having a child with you is a red flag; grown adults, presumably, wouldn’t engage in such infantile, unethical behavior. My poor little brother spent the rest of the night locked in a security office, getting grilled and sobbing. My brothers were banned from the park for a year.

What could I do? I was in line for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and it was an hour ‘til closing. I couldn’t leave without hitting the creme de la crème, the crown jewel, the grand finale. And it exceeded all my expectations.

By the time I emerged from Hogwarts Castle, it was night. The park was lit up and ethereal. I lingered at the colorful, fantastical Dr. Suess Landing, marveling at the dreamlike scenery. I didn’t ever want to leave.

But all great journeys must come to an end, and so I allowed myself to join the satisfied hordes heading for the exit. But I’ll never forget the sensation of stepping into a wonderland; a wonderland made, it seemed, just for me.

One-way ticket to Rome

Yep, that’s right. Today I bought a one-way ticket to Rome. I’ve been thinking about going for some time, but something has kept me back; and it still haunts and threatens me.

No, I’m not talking about money. This is something intangible. I’m referring to my conditioning.

Those who know me well have heard me bring up this topic time and time again. They are either sick of it or are too conditioned themselves to acknowledge it. Most people respond with any critical comment of America with, “This is the greatest country in the world.”

I am by no means a black-and-white thinker. I understand that every situation, person and place has its good and bad. I am grateful to be an American and to enjoy the rights that I do; I love my job and my life. But none of that negates my point: Americans, in general, work too much.

And I’m not just BSing. Numerous objective studies consistently place the States far down the list of the best countries to work in. Here are the top 10, as reported by the Huffington Post: Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, France.

This was based on work-life balance (how much paid time off is afforded, how many hours worked a week, how much paid leave for parents, etc.)

It is a well-known fact that most countries in Europe mandate a 5-6 week PAID vacation. Of course, Americans get about 2 weeks if they are lucky. 21 days is considered phenomenal. The problem is that most workplaces discourage people from taking off more than a week at once, even if it is unpaid. Therefore, most people are not able to take extended vacations.

Everything is relative. Some people have it far worse and I know I am lucky. But to many, travel is not considered a self-indulgent luxury, but one of life’s greatest and most fulfilling, educational experiences. In fact, one of elderly people’s frequent greatest regrets is that they did not travel more when they were younger (another is wishing they had worked less).

Trips — and not of the weekend resort/Disneyland variety, although those are nice too — are often the highlights and hallmarks of a lifetime. Who wants to do the same thing, in the same place, every day for years upon years? Who doesn’t yearn to admire our planet’s great natural and manmade wonders, to immerse completely in the utter foreignness of other lands, to interface with our brothers and sisters across the seas?

This article, by the Atlantic, goes more in-depth on the subject. It details the top 23 countries to work, with the States dead last. I also encourage you to read the top comments, comments like this:

“Americans work longer days and get less vacation then our European counterparts. Did you know that more German made cars are sold than American made cars? Yet German auto workers make twice what American auto workers make and , get better benefits and more vacation? I’m sure thats all just stacked against the good ol USA.  Wake up, look around. Instead of believing the old BS learn about the reality you are living in.”

and

“I work in the Netherlands. I get 8 weeks paid holiday, a very reasonably priced health insurance plan and I work for a company that has flex hours. We have public transportation that is clean, efficient and plentiful. The Netherlands is an extremely integrated society. There are people from all walks of life living in Holland. And oddly enough, they have almost none of the social problems that the US has.

Are you kidding me? It’s a fantastic life and one I thoroughly love. I’m privileged to be able to work there and live there. And yes, all of these countries are in Europe. That should tell you something. ”

Just to give you some perspective. CNN also featured an article entitled “Why is America the no-vacation nation?” I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you read this article. It discusses the fact that not only do Americans get barely any vacation opportunities, but they are CONDITIONED to think that they SHOULD NOT BE taking the vacation — my original premise. They (I) feel guilty; I should instead be working diligently, impressing my superiors, climbing the ladder, stacking the cash and saving for the future. Taking a vacation is impractical, self-indulgent, immature and reckless. These are the thoughts nagging me (while the other me is saying go enjoy life and have adventures while you still can).

I doubt that Europeans feel guilty while they are out enjoying life and not chained to their desks. And I’m rather perturbed by the commentary I get in response to these statements — one, people are under the impression that their current economic crisis is a direct result of working less hours. How does this make sense when the U.S. is the one that set off the global recession; when you observe that Europe prospered for years and that people who work hard and long in sweatshops, for example, have little to no effect on their country’s GDP, let alone their own personal well-being. Any cursory survey of world history will prove the correlation of more hours worked to national financial health to be a fallacy. The real culprits are corruption and mismanagement in the upper echelons.

The other response I often get is something along the lines of, “everyone in the world wants to come here; at least you can say what you want without getting shot.” There is truth to this. There are many opportunities in this land of plenty and people, for the most part, are allowed to voice their opinion. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve or learn anything from others.

Plus, taking vacations is supposed to improve health, relieve stress, and improve cognition and creativity — all things which contribute to a higher quality of productive output.

The Tourism Effect

Las Minas waterfall in El Yunque

The population is now about 7 billion, up from 3 billion just five decades ago. And it continues to climb, expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. The world is chock-full of resources, but they may be starting to dwindle under the strain. Some experts foresee shortages of food and water; others wonder where we will get our energy, acknowledging that the “easy oil era” has come to a close. And of course, our massive CO2 output coupled with rapid development, pollution and deforestation is devastating our ecology at a truly alarming rate.

But I want to explore a much more benign – if still unpleasant – side effect of having so many people on the planet: the impact of tourism.

I just returned from Puerto Rico, a lovely trip. While I was hiking in El Yunque, however, I felt like I was in the Disneyland version of a rainforest. The main road was full of cars and exhaust-spewing tour buses; the lookout points and waterfalls swarmed with sightseers. I mean there were dozens upon dozens. I realize that I, too, was a tourist. The irony is that everyone wishes that they could be the only one there.

I couldn’t help but think of how things used to be, back when the Taino natives lived on the island. I imagined them living in harmony with this beautiful environment, bathing in the streams and waterfalls. Columbus described them thus: “They are very well made, with very handsome bodies, and very good countenances.”

On a side note, I highly recommend A Peoples’ History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. In chapter one, he explores how Columbus and co. utterly destroyed these innocent peoples and their culture. You can read it here.

After exploring the main island, we headed to Vieques, which boasts “the world’s brightest bay” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Mosquito Bay is a bioluminescent bay – the water literally glows when it is disturbed due to the presence of tiny dinoflagellates. We went and it was magical. But again, the experience also caused me to reflect and left me rather saddened.

Because the bay isn’t actually the world’s brightest. The title used to belong to a bay in Jamaica, but they lost the honor because they constructed a giant arena on the shore; the glare from the stadium and the boat traffic was so bright and disruptive that you can no longer see the natural glow in its full glory. The same thing happened to the bio bays around Fajardo, a city on the main island of Puerto Rico. The lights from the city drown out the waters’ sparkle. There are several places around the world that boast this same miracle, but they are being lost or have been lost to urban development and tourist disruption. Many organisms were killed by the run-off from DEET-containing bug spray.

And now even Mosquito Bay is threatened. Our guide first arrived there when he was seven and grew up around the waters. He said he used to not be able to see his hand in front of his face. The utter darkness allowed the bay to shine. Now, due to growing popularity with tourists, the town around the bay, Esperanza, is built up and bright (although you can still see so many stars there than you can in most developed areas, a sight just as breathtaking to me as the stars in the water. Most places are so full of night pollution that they have already extinguished a natural wonder our ancestors took for granted). Now you have to kayak into a far corner of the bay to get the full effect.

As per usual, the issue is complicated. I am one of the tourists I inadvertently malign. And tourism can be a boon for impoverished residents. Nevertheless it is sad to see formerly pristine environments and natural wonders being overrun and damaged – something that happens all over the world and will get worse as there are more and more of us on a finite sphere.

In fact, there have been recent discussions of how increased tourism in Antarctica – one of the very few remaining untouched places – will harm this fragile ecosystem. Pollution, oil spills, and introduction of nonnative flora and fauna are a few of the concerns. So little remains of truly wild, uninhabited wildernesses, and when people invade (as I myself would like to), they often change it forever.

I wrote this poem on the plane ride home to express my melancholy:

Bioluminescence

He came when he was seven

Brought by Uncle Abe

Who now employs him as a guide

For cash-laden tourists.

His friend Bebo, short and dark, comes along

Squirting out some kind of juice

Mosquitoes don’t like.

Back then, when he was seven, there were no tourists

The bay was black and it was his.

Stars sparkled above and below; tiny dinoflagellates

Made the water glow.

Once upon a time the natives of Vieques

Thought those waters evil, as did the Spanish

When they came to look for treasures

Then shipped it all away.

Now there are new lights around the rim

Lights of modern progress, lights of wealth

Proud restaurateurs and hotel proprietors

Lights from pretty houses on the hills.

This is the brightest bay in all the world

Jamaica lost that honor, due to a newly built arena

The boat traffic and fluorescent glare

Made it disappear.

A shark darts beneath my kayak.

Jeffrey is telling the group how he used to swim here as a child.

Now no one is allowed. A ten grand fine.

I dip my feet and hands in and think about what once was.

I’m saddened as they pull our kayaks in.

Sail beyond the sunset

One of my absolute most favorite, cherished poems is  “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson. It is the ultimate ode to living life to the fullest: “I cannot rest from travel; I will drink life to the lees …”

It is about Homer’s ancient Greek king Odysseus, but anyone with a case of restless wanderlust and an innate need for adventure can understand this mantra: “To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”

The sentiment is echoed in this popular quote by Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

All of us have to find a way to make our dreams come true. Our main enemies are time and resources. This is my main concern, always in the back of my mind, every day. How can I live life to the absolute fullest while still fulfilling my responsibilities and being a practical, level-headed person? After all, I can’t just catch the next plane to Paris, however enticing that idea may be. I guess I could go Into the Wild.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know if I should act on instinct or be more logical; but if I am more logical, I am holding myself back unnecessarily? Am I conforming too much to society and constructing my own mental barriers? Should I drop everything and dedicate every ounce of energy to my dream, or should I simply send my intention out into the universe, like in The Secret?

When I was little I loved books like The Chronicles of Narnia, and I would often embark on my own make-believe adventures. Now I long to explore the world and connect with nature in uncharted territories (are there even any left?). Hopefully I can find a way to sail my own ship “beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die …”

Ulysses

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,– cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor’d of them all,–
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
>From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,–
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me,–
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,– you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,–
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Live without Dead Time

The latest Adbusters print magazine urges people to live without dead time.

For many people, this means do not get trapped in a sedentary, passive lifestyle where you are literally programmed by the media and advertisements (or, poisoned with infotoxins; read more here and here).

Not too long ago, people were much more active. They grew things, built things and created things with their hands. They walked almost everywhere. I am not anti-progress, but I do decry the car-work-couch cycle that many Americans fall into.

Unfortunately, my job requires long periods of sitting, which is linked to higher rates of cancer. I recently started practicing yoga, which felt amazing, dissolving all the accumulated tension and knots from hours and hours of sitting at a desk. Giving up TV also helps, opening your mind to the world around you.

The last time I watched TV, I was in a condominium gym, a small windowless room lit up by fluorescent lights. As I walked on the treadmill, a commercial came on urging people to stop drinking cranberry juice and pop a pill instead. It was saying, forget what your mom told you. Now  you can get the same bladder protection in a more modern and convenient way. Needless to say, I found it repugnant (as I do most commercials). That night, in my dreams, a phrase came to me: “I live in an artificial ad world.”

It is difficult to have true authentic adventures, to avoid advertisements and to truly live in our modern, industrialized landscape. That is why I want to travel and to eventually live … somewhere else.