A Journey Around My Room

In Lin Yutang’s view, you must possess the capacity to open yourself to seeing what’s in front of and around you all the time, not just when you are on a special trip. He gives us a sizable translation from a Chinese philosopher who expands on this, explaining that seeing the beauty and grace in the most majestic mountains means nothing if you can’t see beauty and grace in “a little patch of water, a village, a bridge, a tree, a hedge, or a dog….”

A travel book that takes this philosophy as far as it can go and then further is that remarkable little book: A Journey Around My Room. This is book was written in 1790 by a young French officer named Xavier de Maistre. […]

With nothing else to do, he wrote a guidebook to his room, visiting over the course of those weeks various bits of furniture, paintings, his bookshelf, letters he’d kept, and his own memory of a charming and slightly rakish life … De Maistre makes a case for traveling around his room as the truest kind of travel … “The pleasure you find in traveling around your room is safe from the restless jealousy of men; it is independent of the fickleness of fortune. After all, is there any person so unhappy, so abandoned, that he doesn’t have a little den into which he can withdraw and hide away from everyone? Nothing more elaborate is needed for the journey.”

Like all good travel writers, de Maistre begins his book by giving us the lay of the land and the route he intends to take:

My room is situated on the forty-fifth degree of latitude, according to the measurement of Father Beccaria; it stretches from east to west; it forms a long rectangle, thirty-six paces in circumference, if you hug the wall. My journey will, however, measure much more than this, as I will be crossing it frequently lengthwise, or else diagonally, without any rule or method. I will even follow a zigzag path, and I will trace out every possible geometrical trajectory if need be. I don’t like people who have their itineraries and ideas so clearly sorted out that they say, “Today I’ll make three visits, I’ll write four letters, and I’ll finish that book I started.” My soul is so open to every kind of idea, taste and sentiment; it so avidly receives everything that presents itself!…And why would it turn down the pleasures that are scattered along life’s difficult path? …

But when he wants to be awakened to what is going on in the world far from his window, and learn more about the human condition, there is another destination in his room that he can visit—his bookshelf, which is filled mostly with novels and a few books of poetry. These take him out of his room while allowing him to stay in it, and expand his experiences a thousandfold. He writes, “As if my own troubles weren’t enough, I also voluntarily share those of a thousand imaginary characters, and I feel them as vividly as my own.” …

After reading A Journey Around My Room, I vowed that I would take a trip to my room every few months, and these have been some of the happiest days I’ve spent. It’s an incredible luxury to be home and not sick, to wake up with no agenda other than to wander around the apartment all day. I can lie on the sofa and look at the light as it plays across a glass table. Or see the way it catches on a cracked ceramic vase. I can play with the shells I’ve brought back from the beach. I can admire our hearty little African violet. And I can visit my books, flipping through this one and then that to light on a passage.

This only works if I remain totally unplugged. The rules for such a day are simple—no electronics at all (except for music).

~ Will Schwalbe, from “A Journey Around My Room. Traveling.” In Books for a Living.


Notes:

Jane’s Summer Vacation (60 sec)


For direct link to CBS Sunday Morning video: Jane’s Summer Vacation

Saturday


Source: Marina VernicosSani Beach Holiday Resort, Greece

Saturday Morning


Photo by David Godlis via Craveonline.com – Take a trip back in Time to Miami Beach, 1974

Saturday


Source: Fubiz.net with A Beautiful Series of Beach Photographs by David Behar (Manhattan Beach, CA)

TGIF: Things to Do Today

Things to do today:

1) Breathe in.
2) Breathe out.

Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story.


Photo: Huffinton Post.  Quote: The Vale of Soul Making

Guilty

The same applies when I’m reading for pleasure, too, because reading books as if something were burning, or you were in a contest with someone, doesn’t make sense. That would be like swigging a glass of expensive and fine wine, instead of tasting it and rejoicing in it. For me, reading has all kinds of culinary and sensual connotations, and I feel sad when I see people who read like gluttons, guzzler readers who are vainglorious about their numbers, and quickly forget their feelings, if they get any at all.

~ José Luis Amores, from An Interview with José Luis Amores – The Evan Dara Affinity


Notes:

Walking: Just to be, and soak it in, rather than conquer it and tick a box

david-gray

FOLLOWING I don’t follow anything or anybody online; neither am I subscribed to any online magazines. I think I’m just too old and set in my ways for Twitter, etc. I still care about manners, spelling and punctuation, for Christ’s sake. Watching my kids and their intense relationship with the online world, I can see that it’s just a totally different mind-set; a different way of being even.

WALKING. These days my favorite pastime is to just go for a walk and if it’s out in the wilds, then all the better. Recent trips have included the Isle of Skye, the North Cornish coast and the Lake District, all of which were spectacular. It’s about taking your time to traverse rather than just climb a mountain and come back down again. Sometimes you climb up a mountain and find a tiny little lake, a weird little ecosystem with its dragonflies buzzing around. You just spend some time in this strange, magical spot. Just to be, and soak it in, rather than conquer it and tick a box. That’s my approach.

~ David Gray, from “Download by Kate Murphy” (New York Times Nov 26, 2016)

 


Notes:

  • Photo: Digitaltrends
  • If you’ve never heard of David Gray (what planet have you been residing on), check out his classic hit: Babylon

I refuse to do drive-through. I am not a grazer, I am not a cow. You eat. You sit down.

nikki-giovanni

“I refuse to do drive-through. I am not a grazer, I am not a cow. You eat. You sit down. You put a napkin there. And it has to have the colors. If you’re having a steak then you’ll have a little carrots because it’s really yellow, and it looks good. And maybe a little broccoli. So that the plate — first, you plate it. And my aunt, because my uncle died, and she’d been very sad. And I had to call her and say, “Ag, what’d you have for” — you know, because she didn’t have any daughters, right? And so I said, “Ag, what’d you have for dinner?” She said, “Oh, I just had a bowl of cereal.” I said, “You can’t do that. You have to plate your food.” You have to take of yourself. I’ve started to have massages because it’s like, I have to make time to have a massage. It feels great, somebody just rubbing oil in your back. Where’s the downside? You have to do things to remind yourself that it’s a really good idea to be alive.”

Nikki Giovanni, excerpt from Bill Moyers’ interview with Nikki Giovanni


Notes: Quote Source: Wait-What?. Photo of Nikki Giovanni: Jackson State University News Room

Saturday Morning

sleep-dream-jpg

What I see in dreams
makes me breathe
shallow
like golden trout
floating just beneath
the skin of water
warmed by
late autumn’s
ticklish light

~ M.J. Iuppa, opening lines to “Something Brief, But Bright,” Small Worlds Floating: Poems

 


Notes: Art Source: mennyfox55. Poem Source: Memory’s Landscape

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