Winter Wanderlust

Okay, so technically it is not winter yet. But close enough. I am sitting in Starbucks with a warm cup of coffee to thaw my frozen hands (yes, ordinary coffee…not those 500-calorie pepperminty, foamy Christmas drinks), staring outside at the gray fog, and dreaming of escaping this dreary suburb where I live. I want to get out there, to see and taste and smell the wider world, to walk the streets of exotic cities and take in the sights of nature.

Yes, I am afflicted with wanderlust. It is such a powerful desire, that it is all I can do to keep from trekking over to my nearest REI and purchasing the first internal frame backpack I see. If only I could hop on an airplane this very moment! And where would I go? Well, for starters:

1. Chile – I long to hike around Isla Mocha, to see penguins on a desert beach, and vecuñas and flamingos in the wild. I would visit Pablo Neruda’s house and enjoy a New Years’ fireworks show in Valparaiso, and go shopping at the only store in the world named after me (how awesome is that?) 20111130-093504.jpg

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2. Orlando, FL –
Actually, I have already been to Florida. I did the Disneyworld thing, and, even better, had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stand on Cocoa Beach and watch an actual space shuttle launch with thousands of other onlookers. That was spectacular. However, I am dying to return to Orlando, FL, in order to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yes, yes, I realize how nerdy that sounds, but to walk through Diagon Alley and visit Hogwarts Castle and drink a butterbeer…that would be magical.

3. Europe – Now I have gone from nerdy to cliché. But come on…it’s Europe! I would begin in England, of course, to see the places where Dickens and Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth walked and Harry Potter flew by (well, ficticiously); and of course to watch a real live Manchester United soccer match. But then, the rest of Europe beckons: the bullfights of Madrid, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Neuchwanstein Castle, the city of Rome, and the birthplace of IKEA. Europe! Need I say more?20111130-100806.jpg

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4. India – Not only is the cuisine superb, but there is something romantic about the country of India. Not like Bollywood romantic, but in a sentimental sense, like Rudyard Kipling stories and saris and spices. The Taj Mahal is an obvious draw for me, too. But also the people…and this is hard, because part of me would want to experience the wealthy, tourist-y side of India, while the rest of me wishes I could stay awhile and help the poor who crowd the streets and have nothing at all.20111130-101834.jpg

5. The Amazon Rainforest – Yes, I am an adventurer at heart. I would love to explore the depths of an ancient rainforest, to see beautiful and deadly wildlife up close, to hear the shrieks of exotic birds and other creatures, to feel the cold stone ruins of past civilizations. And just think of the great photos I could post later, on my Flickr page!

6. No particular order: Japan, Egypt, Morocco, Brazil, Kenya, Haiti, New Zealand, Russia. Any of these places will do. There is so much fascinating architecture to see, museums to visit, foods to try, and music and people and lives so different from my own.

But too bad for me…traveling takes time away from my family, and from work. Not to mention an awful lot of money. But I will be patient during these long, cold days of winter and monotonous suburban life. I will remember that to many other people in the world, my life here in California, with its redwood groves and gorgeous coastline, and superb wines and architecture and world class cities and stuff–is a remarkable destination, too. How silly of me, to feel so impatient to leave it behind!

Now I shall finish this cup of coffee and head out into the fog to work, so that I can save my money toward satisfying this wanderlust. Maybe I cannot hop on a plane today, but it will come in time. And I will take on this great world, with my REI backpack strapped to my shoulders.

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2 responses to “Winter Wanderlust

  1. The photos above are so inpsiring to me, especially the top two! Natalie Goldberg wrote one of my favorite books, which I’ve listened to many time on cassette tape, called Writing Down the Bones. One of the things she says is that when you start to write with an inspired line or two of someone else’s writing, it’s like you’re breathing in the breath of inspiration, and so your starting place is one of inspiration. I feel like those photos put me in a starting place of inspiration! 🙂

    You did a nice job of coming up with an analogy that conveyed a lot of content and emotional energy. I think you have a gift for that – the ability to think in analogies and metaphors. It’s also one of the qualities I admire in my middle brother. I don’t have that gift – I struggle to think of analogies and metaphores, whereas for some people it almost seems to come naturally with thinking or observing – the analogy just pops into one’s head. But when I do come across that gift in a poem or an essay or some other writing, I admire and appreciate.

    Since I don’t have that gift, I’ll try to write a little story: suppose that a person has a fancy corporate job – perhaps at fortune 500 company or a hospital or a private equity fund or what-have-you. Such a person has almost certainly signed some set of corporate policies and procedures, an employee handbook, a code of ethics and responsibility, a social media policy, a computer and electronics policy, etc. Contained somewhere in those policies it says things like, “you agree that you will maintain the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in all your conduct,” and it goes on to spell out how you will not say anything disparaging about your profession, your job, your employer, your work-related activities, yada yada yada. It also says that your employer monitors social media sites and any unprofessional use of same can lead to consequences up to and including termination, and that you have no expectation of privacy in any of your electronic communications, and that your computer and iPhone and work email, and all the contents thereof, are the sole property of your employer. And the policy explains that the employer will monitor the use of all forms of social media and electronic communication, and any unprofessional use of same will lead to consequences up to and including termination.

    And suppose further that a person reads some interesting thing online, a news commentary or a blog or whatnot, and makes comments under his or her name, being honest and feeling there is nothing to hide so long as one is honestly expressing one’s views, feelings, opinions, observations, etc.

    All of that seems well and good, except that upon reflection a person may realize that saying the honest truth about one’s job may contain a fair number of things that an employer may view as disparaging or unprofessional or potentially damaging to the reputation. And thus the honest comments could lead to sanctions, up and including, as the lawyers say, termination. And so one worries about the possibility of the work-related consequences of one’s observations.

    Naturally, such a person may reach out to the host of such a blog, to inquire as to whether the name under which the comments have been posted can be changed to preserve the anonymity of the commenter, or perhaps some of the more potentially damning comments might be altered or erased. But if the host prefers to maintain public communication, and one naturally wishes to respect that desire, it leaves the commenter with a certain residual level of anxiety regarding comments that remain in the public domain and which an employer may view, justifiably, with some negativity.

    Such a state of affairs may lead to a certain reticence regarding some topics, or an approach that is in some respects more cautious going forward …

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