Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Paradise Postponed

Quest by Quotation
Traveling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Where do you travel in your mind when you want to escape reality for a while? Have you found your paradise while traveling or been disappointed in the reality of the place? How can you travel with realistic expectations?

Hawaii is "dead to me" in the words of that infamous comic conservative Stephen Colbert. The first time I didn't get there was two days after 9/11. The latest was when an important project of mine was scheduled the same time as my husband's business trip out there to discuss power plant projects. I won't tell you about the four other times in between. Paradise once again has been postponed. In my mind, Hawaii is a place I will only see in my mind and my husband's digital pictures on-line.

Quite a few of my friends have traveled recently only to have "triptus interruptus." The first time I was hit with the disease was when bacteria-laden clams invaded my system in Rockport Massachusetts. Need I say more? A friend went hiking in the Cascades and broke her foot. More than likely we all have travel horror stories but, even more common for us, I think, are the travel burden stories when the mental baggage outweighs the suitcases we have crammed full. A friend went to Hawaii, burdened with the knowledge that her beloved pet was gravely ill. Another friend went on sabbatical to Italy and through the US with her daughter, a young adult but always your child, struggling with illness at home. Some situations and people just don't get left behind at the airport security gate or at home or work.

I told my husband I couldn't travel before my event was pulled off because I would worry as much there as I would at home and it wouldn't be a vacation for me - even if it was in paradise. Little did I know I echoed Emerson. As someone experienced in taking retreats, I know the value of getting away. I also know the value of realizing a change in location will not change one's mind and soul, only allow the freedom to potentially change perspective. So for this week, I will head out to my deck and the hummingbirds on the wave petunias, assessing my burdens, pondering my choices, and being glad to see the bit of paradise in my own backyard.