Israel Next-Why?

Back home, surrounded by my familiar things, I continue to learn, to wander in my mind back to India. The Hindus divide life into four stages. At age 70, I find myself in the last stage, Sannyasa, a time for renunciation. The Hindu see this as time to move away from material concerns and judgment. It can be a wonderful final chapter, a time to freely wander without expectations, an opportunity to look within and in doing so, find our true selves. It can be a time of exciting spiritual growth.

Joseph Campbell points out a different approach to life roles through his studies of the power of myths. He has written about the “hero’s journey”, the story of a person, usually a male protagonist, who overcomes a big obstacle to become victorious. And we all know the story archetype of the damsel in distress who needs to be rescued. I can’t identify with either. I’m surely not a hero having made so many mistakes in life that have hurt others. The hardest part of my new maturity is remembering, in hindsight, all the obnoxious and horrible things I’ve done. But thank goodness, I’m no longer a damsel in distress. I’m rescuing myself now, thank you very much.

I’m solidly in Sannysas or, to put it in Western terms, I’m on a quest, peacefully observing and listening. Noticing what is real, I look for the stuff beyond marketing, media, and shallow material glitz. Maybe, in a way this has been a lifelong journey, I’ve always lived the word ”why”. I love books and the secrets they hold. I remember, as a kid, pouring over my family’s maroon bound Funk and Wagnall Encyclopedia which we patiently acquired, volume by volume, as a weekly promotion at our local supermarket.

I’m leaving for Israel soon. Why? Because I know so little about what has and is happening there. Because I think it’s fascinating that three major religions share a small space within the walls of the ancient city of Jerusalem. Because I don’t want to judge. I want to continue to stay away from the sharp edges of life, labeling nothing right or wrong, good or bad. Why? Because there is a lot about my true self I still don’t know.

I will be sharing my insights about my trip on my blog. Please sign up to be a follower. That way you won’t miss anything and it will make me happy to know you’re always with me.

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
― Joseph Campbell

Copyright 2019 @theautonomoustraveler.com All right reserved.

Traveling with Forrest Gump-Like a Box of Chocolates

I have a confession. I definitely think I have an obsessive compulsive disorder. In an upstair room in my house, I have an art studio created when painting became one of my passions. While recently purging out some of my possessions, I realized I had accumulated hundreds of paint brushes, enough to supply a large group of artists. I taught nature studies when I was a second grade teacher and there is a bookshelf in my bedroom that holds over two hundred plant and animal books. And a door in my house hopefully hides a contraption with multiple pockets that holds my very, very large collection of earrings, again in the hundreds.

I’m ashamed and overwhelmed, uncontrollably compelled by the thrill of the hunt. But luckily I have my limits, I’m a bargain hunter, a cunning stalker in the world of flea markets, auctions, rummage sales, and thrift stores. Even though some of my collections are a bit obscene, my habit of buying things at a fraction of what they cost allows me to divert a lot of my budget to my frequent travels.

Recently, on the way home from visiting my family, I decided to stop at a thrift store I had passed many times but never entered. I’ve learned to always first examine the jewelry displays. There were no earrings so I moved on to the books. In my North Country, thrift store book collections are our only option since regular bookstores are becoming rare. I found a great art history book from 1948. Yes, I had two other art history books at home but not like this one. I placed it in the shopping cart.

I visually skimmed the woman’s clothes rack. Skilled shopping for maximum rewards requires carefully pushing hangers aside, one by one, to uncover the best treasures but I wanted to get home. My eye caught something red and long wedged tightly in the slits of color. It was a blouse that proved to be perfect for my aging body because when trying it on it successfully hid some of my defects. In the cart it went.

I went over to the the CD’s hoping to add to my collection of driving music. I knew I had to concentrate as I tried to read the titles in tiny print on the stacks of plastic cases on a shelf that luckily was at eye level. My scan stopped at a CD case that was wider than the rest, the soundtrack from “Forrest Gump”! Taking it down from the shelf, I realized it was a two CD set, brand new, unopened, and $2.99. I was thrilled. I’m a baby boomer and the movie paralleled my younger life. I paid for my treasures, eager to get in my car and listen.

As I drove, I was taken back in time. The songs by the original artists brought both smiles and tears. The late 1960’s, early 1970’s were very tumultuous but somehow energetically hopeful. I’m so glad to have lived through that time.

The CD is absolutely wonderful and so thought provoking, allowing me to compare life then with our world situation today. It makes me think about who I was almost 50 years ago and who I have become. Every song will be the catalyst for my blog writing in the coming weeks. There are some things I need to say. Wow! As Forrest Gump said,

“Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re going to get.”

Copyright 2019 @theautonomoustraveler All rights reserved.

The Pull of the Anchor

I haven’t written since April 8. I haven’t really lived the life of The Autonomous Traveler in the last month. I have had to do things and things have happened to me. There were unexpected car problems, repairs to my rack and pinion steering, a flat tire that led to four new tires and new brake pads.

After spending nine winters in St. Augustine, I decided to give up my rented condo and try something else next winter. Because of this, March consisted of “good byes” to a lot of great people. Then there was the packing up of my stuff to take back up north. I hate packing.

On March 21, my 92 year old ex mother-in-law, who was really a mom to me, died as a result of a car accident. A week before, I got to spend some time with her. She and my 96 year old ex father were a RV rally in Georgia. She was an extremely kind person and everyone at this yearly convention loved her. She always smiled and took a genuine interest in everyone she met. Her love for me was unconditional and she really took an interest in who I was. She frequently called me to see if I was okay and each year when I made the 1300 mile trips to and from Florida she checked in on me daily. She was a person of substance and I miss her.

When I arrive at home I had to unpack all the stuff I had just spent so much time packing. And then I had to fulfill the civilized obligation to clean my house after its long winter of being empty.

And it snowed yesterday morning. The flakes seemed almost embarrassed to be falling at the end of April and were very tiny in size. They didn’t have the power to cover the grass and they moved on to somewhere else or maybe they just gave up. It’s been a long winter

On top of everything, I’m sick. I have caught something from my youngest grandson. Just before be went to urgent care and diagnosed with viral pneumonia, I held him in my arms and read him stories. He is fine now. I’m staying put and nursing a nasty cough. Grandmothers will do anything for love.

I am feeling the pull of the anchor, something we all feel from time to time after traveling or taking a vacation away from home. Traveling is so wonderful, it is movement and experiencing new things. It is present moment joy away from everyday routine. It involves interaction with new people and for the most part, discovering the kindness of strangers. Michael Crichton in his book, Travels, talked about travel as an human equalizer in which economic status, past mistakes, education level, history etc. are unknown and we are only judged by the warmth of our smiles and our kindness to others.

I am feeling the pull of the anchor. I am back home, at my base camp and there is so much to do. There are good people here but there are others I must deal with. Some people irritate me and I know I irritate them. And then there is our country’s politics and an election is coming. We are in a state of conflict and there is horrible news everyday of people calling each other names, hurting each other and even killing.

I am feeling the pull of the anchor. Why can’t I have the life of a tranquil wanderer when I come back home? I’m tired and I have this terrible cough. Anchored here, I have time to reflect on some solutions.

12/1/2001 I took a day long class on Psychology of The Mind “Thought is neutral until we take it personally.” “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

Al Anon (My dad was an alcoholic) “Live and let live.” “One day at a time.” “Keep it simple.” “First things first.” “How important is it?” “Easy does it”. “Keep an open mind.” “Think.”

Posts of Wisdom from Facebook “Anything you can’t control is teaching you to let go.” “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening.”

Class on Mindfulness, March 2019 “Stay in the present moment.” (Studies show this practice can enhance your health and add years to your life.)

My “sickbed” reading, How to be A Stoic, Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life by Massimo Pigliucci. (A lot of simple but clear presentations about Stoicism on youtube.com) “Remain calm under pressure and avoid emotional extremes.” “We suffer not from events in our lives but our judgement about them.” Four pillars of Stoicism-Wisdom (practical knowledge), temperance (moderation), justice (fairness and the belief in shared humanity), and courage. Life is difficult but each of us is stronger than we think and we will get through it.

My memory prods me with these messages over and over and I choose to forget them. I need to practice. I need to pull up anchor.

“Bridge over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel (1970)
“Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way”

Copyright 2019 @theautonomoustraveler