We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.
... a man sitting still is alone, often, with the memory of all he doesn't have. And what he does have can look very much like nothing.
And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, in dimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.
...Bhutan all but bases its identity upon its loneliness, and its refusal to b assimilated into India, or Tibet, or Nepal. Vietnam, at present, is a pretty girl with her face pressed up against the window of the dance hall, waiting to be invited in; Iceland is the mystic poet in the corner, with her mind on other things. Argentina longs to be part of the world it left and, in its absence, re-creates the place it feels should be its home; Paraguay simply slams the door and puts up a Do Not Disturb sign. Loneliness and solitude, remoteness and seclusion, are many worlds apart.
Everyone is a Wordsworth in certain moods, and every traveler seeks out places that every traveler has missed.
You wind back the clock several decades when you visit a Lonely Place; and when you touch down, you half expect a cabin attendant to announce, We have now landed in Lonely Place's Down-at-Heels Airport, where the local time is 1943 and the temperature is...frozen.
I loved the quiet places in Kyoto, the places that held the world within a windless moment. Inside the temples, Nature held her breath. All longing was put to sleep in the stillness, and all was distilled into a clean simplicity.The smell of woodsmoke, the drift of incense; a procession of monks in black-and-gold robes, one of them giggling in a voice yet unbroken; a touch of autumn in the air, a sense of gathering rain.
In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.
Lonely Places, then are the places that are not on international wavelengths, do not know how to carry themselves, are lost when it comes to visitors. They are shy, defensive, curious places; places that do not know how they are supposed to behave.
If we do away with semi-colons, parentheses and much else, we will lose all music, nuance and subtlety in communication - and end up shouting at one another in block capitals.
Contractions, 'U' for 'you' and the like are wonderful to make communication brief and efficient - but we wouldn't want all our talk to be only brief and efficient. Taking pauses out of language would be like taking the net away from a tennis game. Where would all the fun go?
Nearly everybody I know does something to try to remove herself to clear her head and to have enough time and space to think... All of us instinctively feel that something inside us is crying out for more spaciousness and stillness to offset the exhilarations of this movement and the fun and diversion of the modern world.
My Christmas present to myself each year is to see how much air travel can open up the world and take me to places as far from sheltered California and Japan as possible.
I suppose even when I was growing up, I noticed I was most happy when I was absorbed in something, lost in the moment and forgot the time, whether was conversation, movie, or a game I was playing. That was my definition of happiness. And I was least happy when I was all over the place, distracted and restless.
I've never meditated in my life. I don't practice yoga nor any religion. I'm a tourist on the realm of stillness.
In the past, I've visited remote places - North Korea, Ethiopia, Easter Island - partly as a way to visit remote states of mind: remote parts of myself that I wouldn't ordinarily explore.
It takes courage, of course, to step out of the fray, as it takes courage to do anything that's necessary, whether tending to a loved one on her deathbed or turning away from that sugarcoated doughnut.
We readily go to the health club when our doctor suggests we need more exercise, but we regularly neglect the 'mental health club' that our well-being more truly requires.
Travel, for me, is a little bit like being in love because suddenly, all your senses are at the setting marked 'on.' Suddenly, you're alert to the secret patterns of the world.
For more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul. If somebody suddenly asks me, 'Where's your home?' I think about my sweetheart or my closest friends or the songs that travel with me wherever I happen to be.
Travel for me is all about transformation, and I'm fascinated by those people who really do come back from a trip unrecognizable to themselves and perhaps open to the same possibilities they'd have written off not a month before.
I think writing is really about a journey of understanding. So you take something that seems very far away, and the more you write about it, the more you travel into it, and you see it from within.
I think one reason, obviously, that I spend so much time in one place is that I've been lucky enough to travel a lot, and now there are other different, invisible trains that are more interesting to me.
We all know how we can be turned around by a magic place; that's why we travel, often. And yet we all know, too, that the change cannot be guaranteed. Travel is a fool's paradise, Emerson reminded us, if we think that we can find anything far off that we could not find at home.
I can still remember the afternoon, on my 15th birthday, when I opened up 'The Virgin and the Gypsy,' D.H. Lawrence's novella, in my tiny cell in boarding school, and whole worlds of possibility opened out that I had never guessed existed. The language was on fire and sang of liberation.
I've yet to use a cellphone, and I've never tweeted or entered Facebook. I try not to go online till my day's writing is finished, and I moved from Manhattan to rural Japan in part so I could more easily survive for long stretches entirely on foot, and every trip to the movies would be an event.
To me, part of the beauty of a comma is that it offers a rest, like one in music: a break that gives the whole piece of music greater shape, deeper harmony. It allows us to catch our breath.
I sometimes think that so much of our life takes place inside our heads - in memory or imagination or interpretation or speculation - that if I really want to change my life, I might best begin by changing my mind.
In many a piece of music, it's the pause or the rest that gives the piece its beauty and its shape. And I know I, as a writer, will often try to include a lot of empty space on the page so that the reader can complete my thoughts and sentences and so that her imagination has room to breathe.
Alas, those six unfortunate souls who have made their way through my books know that every one of them is about Emerson and Thoreau and their dark counters, Melville and Emily Dickinson. Try as I might, I can't get their inspirations, their challenges and sentences and wisdom and questions out of my head.
You can only make sense of the online world by going offline and by getting the wisdom and emotional clarity to know how to make the best use of the Internet.
One of the happier ironies of recent history is that even as Tibet is being wiped off the map in Tibet itself, here it is in California, in Switzerland, in Japan. All over the world, Tibetan Buddhism is now part of the neighborhood. In 1968, there were two Tibetan Buddhist centers in the West. By 2000, there were 40 in New York alone.