Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Wanderlust strikes again

Post number 400 today - seems like an awful lot to me, but for some blogs it's a drop in the bucket. Here, though, another small milestone. Or should I say millstone (ha). Feeling caustic this morning because I'm suffering from a bad case of restlessness, fueled no doubt by reading all these travelers' tales of late. Leigh Fermor, Chatwin, even Montaigne - not a traveler except in his exploration of self - but I'd love to visit his ivory tower someday - and here I am firmly entrenched in rural Maine. A decidedly beautiful place which I deeply love, but I wonder if I'll ever see Greece, Italy, and England, much less Tibet, Patagonia, or Australia. I'm beginning to suspect not. I was looking recently at a little hardcover book entited Metropolis Found (the New York is Book Country 25th Anniversary Collection 2003), and stumbled upon a quote from someone I'd never heard of, aphorist Mason Cooley (p.69):

"Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are."

Ouch, that hurts. But isn't it the truth. The fact is, even if I were to travel to all these places, my experience would not be that of the authors I admire, partly because the places and times have changed, but also because the worlds and circles they themselves moved in were unique and particular, thus not possible to replicate. So I'm hopelessly homesick and nostalgic and envious and sentimental and romantic, all at the same time, knowing all I've got are their books (admittedly, that's a lot, but still). A sad story indeed. As I've said before, I've been an armchair traveler for nearly my whole life, so why stop now.

Speaking of which, I'm about to finally pounce on a copy of volume two of Tim Mackintosh-Smith's travel trilogy, in which he follows in the footsteps of Ibn Battutah. Volume two has been out for a while, and I've been putting off buying it, but it's finally time, and Powell's has it cheap: The Hall of a Thousand Columns (volume one is Travels with a Tangerine, volume three is due out in 2009). I suspect that while this book will be terrific, as volume one was, it will not ease my current state of mind. So I'll take my cue from Montaigne - and assume that winter should be all about indulging in one's inner journeys, when outer journeys are not possible.

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