“No place can be real emotionally unless we’ve imagined the life there, and our imagining is not likely to be very substantive if not informed.”
— William Kittredge, Southwest Homelands

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

New York City architecture

New York City architecture

Flag refection in revolving doors, Times Square

Flag reflection in revolving doors, Times Square

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
— Mark Twain

“Travel is not altogether an indulgence.  Going out, seeking psychic and physical adventures, can reawaken love of the shifting presence of the sacred Zen ‘ten thousand things’ we find in the wiggling world.  Travel, then, is a technique for staying in touch, a wake-up call, not a diversion, but a responsibility.”
— William Kittredge, Southwest Homelands

I’m back home again after my first trip to New York City.  Now, when I read a novel set in NYC, or see a movie that takes place there, or hear news of the big city, I will have a better sense of the geography of the place and my responses will be more grounded.  I know now how walkable the city is, and that despite its size and population, NYC is manageable because it feels like a collection of small villages.

I do feel that tourist travel is an indulgence, but for me, it is a necessary one.  Any travel is mind-broadening.  And it’s good for the spirit to feast on new sights and experiences.  The challenge is to hold on to that sense of wonder and adventure as I transition back to the familiar geography of my home and workplace.

I can see that traveling on vacation is, on some levels, an escape from my “real” life.  I do partly agree with this comment:  “Looking, consuming with the eye and producing nothing, can never be a genuine life.”  (Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Not Now Voyager)  Schwartz goes on to reflect on the risk of traveling as an escape from the struggles of making a meaningful life at home:  “Nonetheless, when we’re gripped by uncertainty, travel feels like a ready solution to the problem of What next?  What to do, what to think, what to be? . . . On a trip, there’s always another monument, another excursion, another natural wonder to visit, to prove to ourselves that we’re doing something.”

My time in New York City felt like that — always another sight to see.  I couldn’t have sustained that level of sightseeing for too many more days.  After four days in the city, I felt full, and glad to return home to digest and make sense of all that filled my mind.  New York offers such richness, and I can see that it is easy to overdose.

And now it is time to learn once again how to be at home:

” . . . the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive a the ground at our feet and learn to be at home.”
— Wendell Berry