Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An Incredible Journey, a Spectacular Child, and a Phenomenal Book

I don't know whether it was the Florida sun setting behind the palm trees of Orlando International Airport - just as our plane touched down on the tarmac, or the the sweet smell of "Cinnabons" - the first impression to reach my nose, heartily welcoming us back to the scrumptious land of over-indulgence like and old friend. Whatever it was, I couldn't have been happier to be "home".

Of course, when I called Florida home, I never appreciated it. It certainly didn't feel then like the land of paradise. The tropical palm trees, sunsets, and warm winters of my youth had no appeal. Sad, isn't it?

The journey over exceeded my expectations. I had an extra seat for Lukas, and despite the fact that he only slept for one hour out of ten, he played, talked, and watched videos for most of the trip, even letting me sleep for two half-hour streches.

Perhaps best of all, I had one of the most incredible books to read on the flight. The Best American Travel Writing 2006, is full of masterfully crafted travel narratives, and each account is so incredibly different. My favorite yesterday was one that I actually began reading reluctantly: The Discreet Charm of the Zurich Bourgeoisie, originally published on farflungmagazine.com. I really identified with the piece as a whole, which says that boring can be beautiful, but especially with the quote included from the Renaissance writer Michel de Montaigne, which read:

"Storming a breach, conducting and embassy, ruling a nation are glittering deeds. Rebuking, laughing, buying, selling, loving, hating and living together gently and justly within your household - and with yourself - not getting slack nor belying yourself, is something more remarkable, more rare and more difficult. Whatever people may say, such secluded lives sustain in that way duties which are at least as hard and tense as those of other lives."

And the futher I get into this book, the more I understand how essential it is to read, read, and read some more. Afterall, how can one expect to become a great artist without studying the techniques of the masters?

But, even for those not aspiring to one day become "great travel writers", this is a truly phenomenal book, pairing up true tales that are both entertaining and easy to digest.

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