Tag Archives: inspiration

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Another day.

Another day spent questioning what I am doing, or, rather, why I am doing. Most of this stemming from thoughts abut the self-guided tour of the TABASCO facility: of was it worth the money ($5, which is very little, really) on a Sunday when no one is there working, and so the bottling plant, which is where I would see any activity, is just a large room with a lot of inert machinery, instead of a place humming, alive with employees applying themselves to whatever tasks are tasked them. You might say it’s like going to see an opera on a day that it’s not being performed, and paying for a ticket anyway, and going to your seat and sitting for two or three hours. Well, the theater it’s being performed in might be beautiful, but what’s the point of rustling up the price of a ticket to sit amongst the old bones, to stare up at that sternum and ribs vaulting over you like a cage just to look out on an empty black? It’s the musicians and actors, the set design and props that put flesh on the skeleton, that are the blood and the heart and the lungs that give it life, that enable it to move one to tears or make him laugh uproariously or gasp in astonishment. That’s what people go to the opera for. Not to stare at a skeleton, no matter how old or fascinating it might be! Leave that to the archaeologists and historians to sweep away the dust from the bones, and inform you on just which date it was born and how old it was when it died…

I was interrupted mid-thought for dinner with my hosts, and now I’m back a different person. The way they talk, these two! And their life experiences! Their knowledge and feeling for the South, but Louisiana in particular, is a beautiful, admirable thing. It’s like finding a pearl hidden amongst all the junk and trash and sediment of the road, or on the banks of some garbage-strewn bayou. It shines with the light of a thousand suns, and its flame is fanned by all of these crazy yet simple contraptions that have been collected and refurbished so that they work and shine like they are new, and are placed just so on the shelves and tables like so many trophies and pictures of loved ones smiling down at one affectionately. “Would you like to go on a bicycle ride around town? We can eat at such and such a place and you can take a tour of Shadows. It’ll be fun and easy. New Iberia is small so it won’t take much time at all, and there’s a lovely city park just the other side of The Teche. Or how about some open-water fishing? I can tell you the fish like to congregate around the oil rigs out there in the gulf. If you get hungry again Kathy’ll make you some of that delicious shrimp gumbo. NO tomatoes in gumbo, and the stock is made from boiled shrimp heads like it should be. And you know why Louisiana has such a French character, or at least it used to, well the English who were busy settling Canada and the northern United States didn’t like these French mongrels and kicked ’em out and they somehow ended up in Spain and later a deal was cut whereupon the Spanish shipped ’em into the swamps of Louisisana and then you got cajun cooking. If you need some salt to season anything just head on over to these places called “islands.” They’re not really islands, but just look it as they’re large mounds surrounded by swampland, but these mounds are solid, subterranean mountains of salt forced up out of the earth like a pimple. If you go to Avery Island you can get yourself some TABASCO sauce and pray at the buddha all together. The camelias might be just beginning to bloom too. And when you’re done all that just come back to the house and we’ll feed you some more and we’ll give you a history of Mardi Gras, how it’s a Catholic event, Fat Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday and all, and you can look at these pictures in the creole cookbook of how the holiday is celebrated out in the country because it is far different from what they do in New Orleans.”

So, now I am relaxed and happy with a full belly and WILL be taking a tour of Shadows tomorrow and getting a Po’ Boy and eating at Victor’s Cafeteria, and God knows what else. The bike trip. Ah, the bike trip. I’m less concerned about that now. What comes, comes. I’m just here to record the experience.


74 – More Etc. Edited to Mogwai’s Central Belters

In the Yard, Everywhere a Garden, Frisco
The rustle of the aspen leaves like strings of soft wooden beads gently pushed aside by a hand.
Swallows soaring swirling acrobatics tracing the world’s most complex roller coaster clear into the blue, chittering happily and madly because they are swallows and it is theirs, and theirs alone (but this they do not know: that it is also mine).
A hummingbird’s thrum as it zips there (where?) dashing lines in a picture book, now stopping—hovering stationary—motionless but for the soft blur of wings, in front of a purple flower its slender saber-like bill inserted like a bank card into the slot of an atm. Then, ZIP! from my watchful eye, the flower crystalline still.
And the sun filtering through clouds sweetly and warm, an exquisite hand, fingers wriggling, reaching through soap bubbles for something. The touch of my only lover on my skin.

On the tall green grasses
Water droplets
The mountain peaks
Obscured by rain clouds

A young boy
The pebbly shore
He picks one up

At Lake Dillon Marina. On a large boulder along the shore. The sky perfectly blue. Indescribably blue (indescribably perfect). The sky indescribable at any time. It’s more like an emotion than a physical thing, the sky.
The clouds punctuate long rambling sentences that are meaningless, wholly without sense. They’re beautiful and white. As monumental as the mountains, though they be so much more ethereal, insubstantial, always shifting, changing, bits vanishing like an old flag torn to tatters by the relentless wind. Of course, the mountains do too, just slower. So much slower, like the eternity it takes to find someone you love, and then they’re gone.
It’s been ages since I’ve sat like this, down by the water, just observing. Some time ago in Annapolis. Months ago. The breeze a mere whisper today—a comforting pat on the back by a missed friend. More ripples in the lake than unaccountable footsteps in the world. Infinite and everlasting. The sky contained within, but only a part. One could sit out here forever.

The End (not to be confused with the Birdhouse skate video)
Walking by Royal (in so much as one can walk by a mountain). I’m thinking about how my time here has nearly come to an end, and how this all seems like a dream, how all life seems like a dream, and that I’m nothing more than a wisp of smoke, an amalgam of gas and ashes that has somehow been bound together into a corporeal body, and that it makes no sense, but that trying to make sense of existence is like digging a hole in the desert hoping to strike water. That the beauty and the strangeness and awful magnificence and senselessness are to be loved and cherished and enjoyed (or not, if you so choose!). That it matters not if this is all just a dream and every leaf I touch and mountain I climb are mere tricks of these senses (those senses themselves being tricks, too), that their apparent solidity is nothing but an illusion, and my own solidity as well. I laugh! Because it is the air let out of the balloon, and it flies around the room making that silly noise. It is a revelation. But also the genesis of a dream or a reality (is there truly a difference?) that begins anew every moment of every uncountable moment which is this one singular moment that is and forever will be.

How does one draw a line for eternity, yet never move the pen?

63, or, The Blog Post that Turned into a Book Review

Picked up Alastair Humphreys’ book Grand Adventures yesterday and reading it now. An absolute joy. Lucid, convincing, inspiring, practical (without sounding like a “guide”) and humorous in places (often self-deprecatingly so). This book is a must-own for anyone who has even had the slightest inkling of a consideration of embarking on an adventure, odyssey, journey, whatever, grand or otherwise.

Grand Adventures can be broken up into four parts, some of which overlap. The first third of the book consists of practical matters, and the point of it is to convince you, the reader, that yes, a big adventure is possible, and yes, you can find the time, money, etc. to go on one. The second two thirds of the book is broken down into modes of transport, or types of adventure—travel by bicycle, by foot, by watercraft, etc.

What could the other two parts that comprise this book be, you may now be thinking to yourself, since I’ve obviously covered the entire length of the thing from front to back. Well, Grand Adventures is also arranged in such a way that each of the subsections are broken down into two formats. Each is introduced by Al and his thoughts on the matter at hand, and then, and here’s the real genius of the book, supplemented by the thoughts and anecdotes of certain people, average human being and Grand Adventurer alike, he questioned who have gone off on these adventures themselves. I almost don’t want to say “supplemented by” because these stories and bits of advice from others make up the bulk of the book. They’re also the bits that when you read you can’t help but be grabbed by the guts with the desire to immediately fling everything, all previous engagements and responsibilities aside, and run out the door prepared or not. Each section is then neatly concluded by Al summarizing stories and pointing out similarities, differences, and unique points of view between them. It’s a neat little bow on a tidy package full of gifts of inspiration and motivation.

If you’ve never rowed across an ocean before (and I’m pretty sure that accounts for about 99.99999 percent of the population of the world) you might find yourself wanting to. If you’ve never gone on an (ant)arctic journey before, maybe that now sounds exciting and possible. If you’ve never walked farther than from your front door to the nearest bar, then perhaps walking across your country of residence (or any country for that matter) sounds like it might be up your alley. Of course, maybe you think it might be better to row across a smaller body of water than an ocean, to start with, or maybe make a visit to southern Greenland rather than attempt to trek around the arctic, or pick a shorter distance to walk than across a continent or country (unless your country is small, unlike the United States), although, the wonderful thing about walking (or cycling) is that you don’t need any more experience in doing it than you already probably have.

There are no lengthy kit lists here, just a very simple one covering some of the basics. That’s not the point of the book anyway, which is mainly to convince and inspire, and this it does exceedingly well. If you as a prospective adventurer are set on going on a particular adventure, the web contains vast surpluses of information for recommending specifics in terms of kit (along with the lengthy debates that often accompany them).

The photography in the book is, on the whole, excellent. At its worst it’s bland and prosaic, but does still cover its most basic function of describing or detailing further  a particular story. The great bulk of photographs though are far and away better than this, many of them being jaw-droppingly gorgeous, particularly the two-page full bleed spreads (I’m thinking of a particular image of Iceland right now). These images not only enliven particular vignettes, but also make one envious of the subject in the  photograph, or of the photographer himself, and oftentimes both, while additionally, and perhaps most importantly, evoking a wide array of feelings, from daring and desolation, to danger, but also quietude, peace, joy, and fun. Above all though, they inspire adventure.

To wrap this all up I think I’ll repeat what I began with in my opening paragraph. And maybe add a few bits. If you’ve ever at any time in your life thought about going on an adventure, big or small, you should own this book. But even if the thought has never crossed your mind to go on an adventure, you should own this book; it’s likely that you need one but just don’t realize it. Perhaps you’re feeling life’s gotten a bit dull, lost a bit of its sheen, is too predictable or repetitive, but you can’t quite pinpoint why this might be. There’s this itch you have, but you can’t quite figure out how to scratch it. All this is pointing to one thing: you’re desperately in need of an adventure. But you didn’t know this because you either don’t know someone who’s been on an adventure, or you haven’t read a blog or a story by someone who’s gone off on an adventure. In short, you haven’t been exposed to the adventuring world. But no worries. Now you know. And with this book you can get to thinking, pondering, picking, and planning. This book will be your constant companion, at least until you leave, because by that point you will be no longer be in need of it. But, while you’re planning, or just pondering an adventure, or even after you’ve returned from one, you will always go back to this book, for it is filled with the seeds of your own personal journeys that you’ve finally discovered you so badly need.