GNL number 77

a report of doings at meeting #77, Sunday, October 20, 2013

including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


INVOCATION

Restore human legs as a means of travel. Pedestrians rely on food for fuel and need no special parking facilities. ~ Lewis Mumford

We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think.  Words are secondary, thoughts live; they travel far. ~ Swami Vivekananda

I never saw a discontented tree.  They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted, they travel about as far as we do. ~ John Muir


THEME

Sue began this conversation on TRAVELS by reading quotes, many of which reflected her sense of travel as learning experience. Then she spoke of her own travels, like the long trip she made years ago with her first husband across Europe, even into Russia; and later another kind of travel when they lived a more or less hippie life on a commune and did some tripping, some helpful; and then later travel with Jay, including the regular trips they take out west to see the kids and grandkids.  And last, she cited the writing of a favorite rabbi, Shefa Gold, on the journey that is one’s life path, and gave us print excerpts.

Louise said she had also spent some time traveling abroad, but not so much in the sense of eye-opening experience.  She spoke of being an independent-minded, reader-researcher from early on, who didn’t hook up with the hippie lifestyle so much as social-political activism; and that following a vision after her teaching career, she did do some important traveling. And that was upstate, to Schoharie County, where she established her farm, and where she continues to work hard and enjoy her life tremendously every day (and in fact is constantly ‘traveling’ through new issues, and never ever bored.)

Anna referred to her travels as a young woman across the country to Washington state to pick potatoes on a farm, then back via scooter on a south-central route. Among her adventures, she said she found widely differing attitudes among people, from the kindliness of some guys in California who offered help when she needed it, to the bigoted comments she felt were directed at her by a man in one of the southern states. She said she would try to locate her old travel journal, especially since Cynthia had offered to have it printed. Lately, since her car died, she has not been doing much traveling, and is very glad to get out with the help of driver-friends like Ann.

Ann, who’s probably driven more miles than any of us, began with a 6-wordy, then recalled traveling as a young child in the old convertible with her parents, a car she loved even when the travel and destination weren’t so much fun. And then she recounted an amazing long trip she and Elliott had made in 1986 up the Mohawk river/canal system into Canada in their 28-foot boat; they mostly slept in the boat, and learned a lot not only about places, but actual physical traveling. Ann also spoke of the incredible physical travel in space she and Katherine and Nancy had seen the previous night in the movie Gravity, which they recommend.

Nancy had also been thinking of travel as mind-opening, both literal and figurative travels.  She said her sense that more people are venturing out of their roots gives her hope that more of us will also break out of our narrow outlook and become more like global citizens, which this earth sorely needs. (If she were boss of education, she would send every American abroad for a semester.) She then spoke of her own first trip abroad, with family last year to her daughter’s in southern France, showing pictures and noting the stronger value there for history, craftsmanship, slower life, and less for strip malls (and fracking! France banned it!)

Many other ideas arose in this conversation, which continued through lunch, with our noticing e.g., that some wise writers did not experience literal traveling, but maybe travel through literacy and imagination, like Marcel Proust and Emily Dickinson. Another, the sense that American tourists have a reputation for tending to stick with tour groups and remain observers, and that we would like not to be that kind of visitor.  So, again, we were all over the map, but since the subject was Travels, this time it’s only fair.

We decided that with more federal funding cuts to service programs like HeadStart, we wanted to again give our offering to Schoharie County’s HS program.


BENEDICTION

It is better to travel well than to arrive. ~ Buddha

Our battered suitcases were piled up on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. ~ Jack Kerouac


NEXT TIME

Sunday, November 10, 2013 (1030), at Nancy’s in Cobleskill. The topic is PRIORITIES, or anything else that’s on your mind, since we weren’t too clear on this.


AFTERWORDS

from Sue

  • “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu
  • “Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
  • “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ~ Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
  • “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
  • “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”~ Marcel Proust
  • “It is better to travel well than to arrive.” ~ Buddha
  • “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller
  • “The only journey is the one within.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

    I also handed out a print out of Rabbi Shefa Gold’s commentary that focused on the journey as inner spiritual event. It’s from her book Torah Journeys–The Inner Path to the Promised Land, Ben Yehuda Press, 2006

from Nancy

  • “Travel is one of the best anti-war weapons that there are.  I’ve been to Iran, and if you’re there you see little kids, cops, old people, cemeteries.  Once you see that, you can’t say, ‘O, Iran, let’s bomb them.’” ~ Viggo Mortensen
  • “I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.  Suddenly you are 5 years old again.  You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross the street without endangering your life.  Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” ~ Bill Bryson (in Neither Here NorThere: Travels in Europe)
  • “We must travel in the direction of our fear.” ~ John Berryman
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