A return to Vagabonding pt. 1

I feel I’ve written on this book once or twice before. It’s one that’s been with me for a while. In fact, my bedroom’s bookshelf has only the books I really want to read or ones that I want close to me. Rolf Potts’s Vagabonding is one of three books that I’ve had since the early 2000s. The other two are Lao-Tau’s Tao Teh Ching (Shambhala Publications’ John C.H. Wu translation) and Acupuncture: A Comprehensive Text (Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine; translated and edited by John O’Connor and Dan Bensky).

The text on Acupuncture was a loan from a former teacher of mine – my earliest mentor, you might say. One day I will track him down again and return the book, with a comprehensive apology for having it as long as I’ve had.

So saying that Vagabonding is near and dear to me falls somewhat short of the mark.

I’ve done two extended trips in Europe, one in ’16 and one in ’17. Last year it was a short trip to Costa Rica, and then this year, of course, was Alaska. But I think I’ve accepted that long term travel is more appealing to me than a regular vacation. It’s significantly more immersive, and, in my opinion, more fulfilling.

And recently I realized that it’s once again time to revisiting Mr. Potts. So I pulled a heavily-used, loved paperback off the shelf and opened again to the first pages.

Vagabonding – n.    (1) The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time.   (2) A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance, and the growth of the spirit.     (3) A deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible.

Sipping on gin and…

I was clearing out some old files last night. I hard drive used for backups, old documents, scrambled writings, a ton of music, and pictures.

Some pictures made me happy. Some nostalgic. Others brought tears to my eyes.

Pictures are snapshots of a moment. Pictures may tell a thousand words, but they hide ten times as many. Because those snapshots of moments aren’t the moment themselves. They are representations. The moment was ephemeral, the snapshot a forgery.

In You Are A Badass, Jennifer Sincero says something like, “Focusing on the past is depression. Focusing on the future is anxiety. Focusing on the present is peace.” (Looking it up, she was quoting Lao Tzu.)

Though wonderful reminders, photos are the past. Even the ones your friends (and occasionally I) post on Facebook and Instagram. Lingering on them will only cause depression.

(The title comes from The Botanist Gin that I was drinking while clearing out folders. If you like gin, I recommend it.)