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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Traveling, Man…

Dan Dodge
Will She Come Back?

“A good traveler leaves no tracks….” Tao Te Ching

    A traveler often travels to exotic places.  Glasgow. Dublin. Lisdoonvarna. Farthings Ordinary. Geographical places with interesting names. Exotic names like Fort Augustus, Buchlyvie, and Pittenweem dot my interior landscape, as tarmacadam ribbons, here, there, and every which way, simulate the life of one of the traveling people. Painted cloudscapes stream by…and by–some breathtaking, others quite quite ordinary. But always, there is the joy of discovering someplace new and different.

My travels afford me the luxury of spending time with me, myself, and I in many different ways:

(1) Time is often spent thinking about the upcoming term, mulling the plans over in my mind, changing this, altering that, in an attempt to find the optimal flow. The guiding principle is always to arrange the teaching (and learning) so that the learner discovers most (if not all) of it for him/herself. Not an easy task that. Done well, it is a seamless set of experiences; done poorly, it stinks of ‘over-thinking.’ A delicate balance this, the grail of teaching and learning.

(2) Time is also spent in reverie, sometimes unfettered, sometimes focused. It always reminds me of the time I visited a Tibetan ashram in the borders of a great wee nation and was immediately plunged into a three-hour meditation session. After working through the initial discomfort, I began to watch my thoughts. And still more thoughts. 

“I” thoughts.    “Me” thoughts. 

And so it is with reverie. What’s truly amazing is the amount of inconsequential clutter that dwells in the mind. So…part of the time is spent mind-scrubbing; part of the time following convoluted trails of the imagination; still other parts of the time substituting the clutter for a simple mantra, to be recited over and over again. That centering process helps me be in the moment rather than becoming the moment.

(3) Music is a great traveling companion–not only for soothing the soul but also for when the twin highway demons of accidents and road construction slow the traveler down to a virtual standstill. And the endless playlists that I have inherited from family and friends measure my traveled miles in untold listening pleasure. Some days are spent with one artist. Other days are given over to special playlists. Still other days on ‘shuffle.’ Sometimes, I wish I could put my life on ‘shuffle’–the wish being the father to the thought! Ah, the choices, and the musical places you can go….

(4) There’s a line in the film Snatch when Bullet Tooth Tony says that we “should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity.” On my travels, I generally find myself ruminating on those stupidities that I own (and those I wouldn’t like to own). So self-talk helps immeasurably in the process of getting myself sussed out. I learned about that from a certain Viscount Lochee on our road trip some time ago in Arizona.

(5) Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of spending time with yourself is to practice the Einstein principle. 

Specifically, what he posited was this:

“…the intellect has little to do on the road to discovery…there comes a leap in consciousness–call it intuition or what you will–and the solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why….”

Moments like these contain all the magic and mystery of koans. I do some of my best thinking on my travels. And it presents endless opportunities “to prefer the genius of and to the tyranny of or.” In other words, to synthesize the oft competing worlds of intellect and intuition into something different.

Something better.  
Something that leaves no tracks….

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