In case you haven’t noticed, I like food, all aspects of food; from thinking about it, making it, eating it, dissecting a dish to recreate it, looking at it, trying new tastes, and sharing it with all. It is my most accessible creative art form, and I like to care for people by feeding them. So when I get dropped into a vegetarian’s dreamland of flavors and new tastes, I’ve reached nirvana.
A little back story on the many stages of what can be called “diets”, I have gone through to arrive at this now interesting mix of healthy vegetarian. Of course I started out eating meat and thankfully I’ve tasted that delicious culinary world, but my body asked me to change directions into vegetarian. Thankfully I still have no qualms about skipping a whole category of meat inspired flavors and if my body decides meat is back on the menu, ill listen. I’ve been pescitarian (veg + fish), vegan, juiced, raw, and even skipping food all together for two weeks to try fasting. All of these experiences and seeming boundaries have only added to my love of food. The quest to eating healthy has added new foods and creativity into my diet and I’ve arrived with a good foundation of what my body wants and many delicious ways to get there. The only key to eating healthy is to listen deeply to your body (not the mind), each one is different and no set rules will always apply. How to listen? See meditation.
On my most interesting food journey, fasting, I happened to attend a feast and just watched everyone consume every delicacy. Food went in and conversation came out, but I can’t say anyone was more present than I, to appreciate the smells, looks, and possible tastes. I had an interesting perspective on that particular meal and I don’t know that I’ve enjoyed food more than being present for that experience in which I couldn’t use taste. Its the fabled popcorn down the hall smell. Never does it taste so good as when you know you wont actually eat it. Of course actually tasting food is generally more enjoyable, but learning to really be present with your food, to enjoy all aspects of it, even the mental aspects is a lesson well learned. I use a good adage “Eat every bite like the first”; Don’t rush through the meal, explore each bite with your eyes, then your mouth and taste buds, be present with each bite and be careful to watch when you eat for enjoyment or when your pleasure center in the brain takes over and eating just becomes routine, another pleasure button for lab mice. My original adage was “eat every bite like the last”, which helped me slow down, but then the meal is always over, instead of a new adventure beginning each time you lift your fork. This helps with enjoyment and portion control and never leaves you wishing for more, because each bite was a lifetime.
So enough about eating in general, the Travels in India: Food Edition can officially begin and what could be better for a vegetarian foodie than traveling to India? Not only are the menus extensive and different from region to region, but you just can’t beat the prices. I thought I liked Indian food before going abroad, but after eating my fill, I honestly only want more. Thankfully I have been able to sample most of the world’s cuisines, but I must say I could eat Indian food every day.
India is known for their curries or gravies and masala. Curry, being an English word to describe every sauce that comes out of an Indian kitchen and masala, an Indian word meaning every spice known to humanity. So when you read the words ‘masala curry’ you couldn’t be less descriptive. Thankfully the Indians have color coded their gravies as white, brown, orange, red, and two descriptions on consistency being thick or saucy. They kindly also tell you what main vegetables (or meats) are included being aloo, mutter, paneer, gobi, and palak (potato, peas, cheese, cauliflower, and spinach). So armed with this colorful array of descriptions you spin the wheel of deliciousness and see what comes out.
I had the unique food privilege to be located in one town for 3 months and thus worked my way through most of the menus at my favorite places. This became a challenge and a goal because almost everything new I tried became my new favorite dish. Once I discovered a new delicacy or sauce, I tried the same at the other restaurants to see who made it best. Many times I was surprised that it could be better, but often I found that the same dish could vary widely in flavor almost making it something completely different. Already at a disadvantage at figuring out how to recreate these masterpieces I had to settle for pictures and names and hopefully find recipes later.
I fell in love with one sauce at my favorite place, the “Yogi Tree”. They serve this sauce in a variety of dishes so I could vary the contents. The dish I started with is called “Malai Kofta” which are basically veg meatballs drenched in sauce. This dish is served all over, but nowhere else did I find the sauce to be better than here. Over the many times I ordered this dish I befriended my waiter and he tried to sneak the recipe out of the chef. Not being a chef himself, he came back with a basic list of ingredients and no cooking instructions. I think I shed a few tears over that sad development, which only means I have to figure it out on my own. The problem with making your favorite Indian restaurant dish at home is technique and the masala spice mix. Everyone uses a different mix which is near impossible to make exactly again and thus every dish will be different. Many restaurants even use premade boxed masala mixes which can help the home chef, but only if you can keep on buying it!
Other favorite dishes that soon came forth as clear winners:
1 The famous Malai Kofta, slathered in sauce, topped with ghee and cream for good measure. Best served with naan.
2 Masala Dosa. A very thin pancake made in part with rice batter, served with spiced potatoes in the center. Can come as big as 1 meter long.
3 Various sauces of spiciness. The green one is spinach sauce, which is always fantastic.
4 Tali. Served home style with a couple vegetable choices, dal, rice, and chapati. Real home cooking
5 Masala Papad. Unleavened flat bread topped with various goodness, tastes a lot like a mexican pizza
6 Cardamom Parantha. Like a European pancake with a delicious layer of caramelised apples and onions in the middle topped with fruits and cream.
7 Fried lotus root in a sweet and sour sauce. Not Indian food, but this was so good I went out of my way several times to eat a whole plate of it.
8 They even serve a pretty good pizza
India also has its own category of bread called naan. There are other similar choices such as chapati, roti, parantha, and papad; all of which are used to scoop up sauce and deliver it to your mouth instead of your other choice of flavored rice or the old standby of using your fingers. India also like the rest of the world has croissants, generally more like a roll in the shape of a croissant. They do their best to copy the french delicacy, but I think they missed the memo that more butter is the key.
“There is no cheesecake in India!” – Torey Julian
This quickly became an inside joke as many places served what is clearly labelled as cheesecake. While it may indeed contain cheese (among who knows what else), these dense dry cakes clearly cannot be compared to cultures that actually have cream cheese, which is what is used in making the famous New York Cheesecake. So whenever India served us a western cuisine dish with what we would have expected to be of a certain texture and flavor and which had been clearly Indian-ized, all you could say was “There is no cheesecake in India!”
I did find some wonderful desserts though. I managed to try every apple pie and brownie in town and happened upon a really good carrot cake. Some places knew how to work with chocolate and some clearly did not. Our favorite was the sizzling brownie served on a hot plate with chocolate poured over the whole thing. It sizzles, it smokes, it makes chocolate lava and melts all the ice cream as you dig in trying not to burn your mouth too much.
*After consuming your brownie you may be possessed to attack your neighbors brownie.
Both contenders for best apple pie
Its always sad to realize when you leave a place that you forgot to take pictures of the most routine things. For instance my favorite breakfasts have been completely forgotten, even though I ate them every day for 3 months. This includes:
Poha: A delicious yellow rice with lemon and spices with potatoes.
Sago: Tapioca pearls sautéed in sesame oil with peanuts and curry leaves (this is a very chewy dish, which I called the most meditative to eat).
Idil and Sambar: Little Indian rice buns served with a coconut gravy and sauces.
Uttapam: An Indian pancake with onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs on top.
As I sit here salivating over my own memories, I can already taste my next trip to India and the wonderful tastes ill encounter. Blessings to your own culinary adventures and may you be lucky enough to visit India (or try your local Indian joint).
There is no mistaking being in Italy. You can feel it in the air, it’s almost buzzing. Like everything here, Italy is in your face. Not in an affronting way, it’s just the life force of Italy. You speak with your hands, the language is a no holds barred expression of feelings and the food speaks to the heart. There is a look in the faces of people and the stone that declares “we are Italy!” and we know who we are. Not every culture steps up and proclaims itself so easily.
I spent a few days in Milan and it’s impressive duomo. The financial capital of Italy and fashion doesn’t disappoint if you are interested in shopping. I managed to find many churches tucked away on my walks and often very beautiful. Milan isn’t somewhere I feel the need to return too. A nice city in its own right and once explored leaves only the daily living experience to appeal to the senses.
I move on to Venice and the difference is immediate. Upon stepping foot in Venice beauty surrounds you. The canals and houses are in various states of beautiful disrepair. The random trees that are somehow out of place and yet treasures to look upon. The grand works of stone construction on these little islands, often leaning suspiciously to one side. It’s all too much to comprehend how this got built here in the middle of the ocean; so you just enjoy it.
It strikes me at some point that there are no cars or bikes here. Everyone walks or takes a boat ride. What an odd thing in such a famous city. Other forms of transport is one of the charms that goes unnoticed for a while. The noise and pollution are so far removed you feel as if you are squeezed into a rural village. There was never any development of roads for horses or cars, only human traffic through the ages. Everywhere you turn there are wonderful little bridges, crumbling facades, and colorful laundry hanging from windows. There is a fair share of tourism as well, but go off exploring and it fades in the narrow alleyways.
I’ve just poked my head into another stunning church. They wanted a fee so I left. With those few glances I saw what I would comprehend. Master works of painting, skillful stone work, and years worth of prayer and ceremony. A short stroll further and I found myself at the open ocean. I looked down and found my hands in prayer and found it odd I felt more at peace with the sounds of the ocean softly rolling onto a stone shore than in another church. I have been stopping in many on my travels and praying or perhaps rather meditating and positive thinking, which amounts to the same thing. I have the time and I like to see how the church feels for me. Often the high domed ceilings offer more wonder with eyes open than closed. Perhaps that was their purpose, for God is only found inside, but these masterpieces must somehow try to glimpse that inner wonder and convey it to the material world. I think the ceremony and singing are an Indispensable part of feeling a churches presence, but most only hold tourist hours these days. I have been finding more questions and answers watching the natural world than I could imagine. Just now it is the ceaseless caress of water on stone, but just the other day it was watching a duck clean and feed itself. You could see there in that one duck the answers for all of life. Just watch how any animal or plant lives it’s life with ease and you can see that all is provided for it. Food is available, shelter if needed, it has the tools available to live in its environment. There is no desire to be other than what it is and be in harmony with everything else. Only man has somehow separated itself from that harmony and desires to be other than what it is. With my long hours of silence I have come to desire only this, to be in harmony with all, to know that all is provided, and cease to struggle for more than that. It seems so simple, perhaps even boring, but a great peace arises and I find myself slipping ever more into a state of happiness that cannot be achieved, only experienced when one is closer to harmony with the natural order.
Venice has treated me well. The weather has changed from rain to sun for me and has stayed warm all day. Even today the fog is wearing off and blue skies are about to greet me where only gray used to be. The nights in the streets are ripe for pleasure strolling and mysterious alleyways call from every direction. I decided to spend some time performing poi on the streets for the first time. Once the initial interest in old buildings and crossing canals on bridges wears off one has to enjoy their life just being in the city. Thus I got over my initial hesitation and ended up performing for around 2 hours each night. At first I forgot my speaker at home, so the music was only in my ears, which leads to a striking light show only to the backdrop of conversations. Many people stopped to watch or talk to me. I even made a Japanese friend who is a fellow performer and magician. He shared some new juggling techniques with me and showed me his amazing skills. I wore myself so tired that my arms were dead and the skin missing from my fingers, but I felt great. It certainly taught me that I am ready to learn a few more tricks and put out my hat and see what happens.
*Best hostel experience yet! Rooftop kitchen/patio
The synchronicity keeps happening. My roommates change from a Japanese trio to a PhD philosophy student from Pune India. He is impressed with my commitment to yoga and meditation as his studies have taken him in a more academic approach to religions and philosophies. He is here to give a lecture and shares the headlines with me in our talks. It is exciting to keep watching these perfect experiences continue to show up.
I’ve been accepted to my first workaway experience, where you volunteer your time for food, shelter and experience. I was in need of some nature time and a more steady pace of life other than traveling every few days. I think I have absorbed enough new lessons about life and need to sit and absorb them. After these 10 days on a rural estate I have 10 more in meditation then 3 months in India. Certainly my fast paced travels will be slowing, but I felt the call by my body and it all worked out so perfectly. I was accepted 10 minutes after sending the email and the older couple are retired from running a spiritual retreat in Kent England. They also hold a weekly meditation at their home and need help in the garden. It is conveniently located just north of Lourdes France where I wanted to visit so what couldn’t be more perfect? I am trading exploring Marseilles and Provence for this experience, but I think it’s worth it. I will be back and that leaves something to explore. Time to recharge and integrate all this new information before doing another serious round of meditation.
“Come with me
and you’ll be
in a world
of pure imagination”
– Willy Wonka
Stepping foot into Paris is like getting the golden ticket. Your dreams are about to come true and everywhere you look something has been created to delight your senses. The night air is alive, the lights, the stones, the smells all transport me back to my first experience of the world; Paris at age 16. The world was so mysterious and vast, where anything could happen right around the corner and my imagination was ripe and fresh. To my inexperienced youth, a foreign language with no responsibilities was enough to lock Paris into a pure playground of sensations. The world seems to have gotten smaller as I easily manage my way around and use simple French, yet the awe of stepping into these vaguely familiar streets fills me with joy to explore the city of love from this totally new self. Walking the night air, seeing fashionable people having drinks on the sidewalk, the familiar subway air smell and cigarette smoke, this is the Paris I remember, whose feelings are etched in my memory.
I have traveled to many cities and countries and with each I have developed a relationship. Some were brief and memorable, some fail to make a lasting impression. Japan left deep and profound changes in our ongoing relationship, while others like Paris, while she may not always be on your mind, can with one look, one embrace, cause all time to be forgotten as you fall back into the arms of a trusting and comfortable lover.
As luck would have it, our apartment over looks the ever present Eiffel Tower and I am graced with laughter at the pure perfection of our situation. I am rooming with my best friend from college and unofficial adopted family, Robin and his wife Gabriella. Despite the late hour and the 10 hours of travel, it’s time to eat. My trip has been likened to the movie Eat, Pray Love in the sense that I plan to eat in France, meditate in India and well I may not be searching for external love, but I am going to Bali and I may find love. After stumbling in and out of brasseries trying to find an open establishment we land ourselves a table and a few entrées.
Ah Paris, you never fail to amaze the senses. The food that arrives knocks me flat: A Classic French onion soup (funny how the best one in the city always arrives on your first meal), a pair of toast points with bubbling fresh goat cheese melting on top, and a tower of sliced vegetables with marinara and mozzarella glowing all colors of the rainbow. Even the table baguette has more flavor and snap than most breads I can remember and I finish everything in sight. This begins the journey to eat my weight in bread and cheese; and I think I’ll throw in French pasteries to finish the job.
I awake to the smells of Paris. The din and excitement of morning traffic and stalls setting up for the weekly open air market waft through the windows. Hallways in hotels and apartments have a unique smell to them only to be found in Paris. It’s a slightly musty, yet comforting smell the hugs you in the narrow passageways and stairwells of this well worn city. A memory of the ages and people that have passed into antiquity. Ground floor presents a new barrage of olfactory assault. The fresh seafood and meat vendors have on display their finest cuts and catches. I wander through the market with people bustling to and fro with their purchases and rubbing up to the display cases to make their selections. I pass whole displays of fruit and vegetables, more cheese varieties than I know exist and bakers with that delicious French bread and glowing flaky crust that accompanies every croissant and pain au chocolat. Giant figs and nectarines fill my bag as I navigate the French language for the first time and realize I don’t have all the words I need, but I overcome my hesitancy to look foolish and pointing helps. I find out later it happens to be nectarine season which is why they are bursting with flavor as juices run down my face with each bite. Robin saves me from my fromage incompetence and nabs us quite a few delicious selections to round out the breakfast feast.
Robin is attending sciences po to finish his law degree while Gabriella is studing for the LSAT which leaves me to wander the city aimlessly everyday. I’ve seen the main sights of Paris and wish to remain out of the circle of tourists and blend in as a local just going about my daily business. I will walk in upwards of 10 miles a day crossing ever farther from my home base in the 15th arrondissement to discover much by accident many famous sights, movie locations, and local happenings to attract my attention. As the weather clears from cool and gray to sunny and warm over my 2 weeks I enjoy my strolls and comfortably find that miles disappear beneath my feet without even noticing. An hour walk is just the start of a daily routine which is probably why I’ve lost weight rather than gained any. I have time, so I leisurely wander and my wanderings find me so much beauty and activity I never once feel I am missing out on anything happening in the city. Obviously more is happening than I can ever comprehend, but I find street performers, art walks, local food stands, free concerts, mesmerizing sweet shops, famous buildings, beautiful parks and more stunning architecture than I can gawk at.
This city of stone sprawls ever farther from the steps of sacre couer. Taking in the awe inspiring scope of construction from this lofty point I am filled with a sense of dismay for this endless stone jungle that has replaced all it’s greens for beige. At the same time zooming into any one of these buildings and I am enamored with its individual beauty and uniqueness; every one a work of art. It is much the same view when looking at the earth from space, seeing the damage humanity has caused across the planet and yet everything when viewed up close has its own beauty and place and I am reminded to not fall into judgements, that each moment is a unique moment to be cherished. That everything is perfect, the creation and even the destruction. It is all a unique example of each persons desires rolled into reality and could not be any other way. I take these thoughts into the church and meditate into the high domed ceilings of this grand work of human achievement adorned with loving gilt and decoration until I reach a place of peace and wander back into the jungle with love and appreciation.
I wonder who lives in the penthouses of the special buildings that end in the rounded classic V intersection like two lovers crossings paths. These finely dressed people sipping tea and gazing out the window as their building unwaveringly plays match maker to pedistrians who seem happy to never walk on parallel streets but to arrive in a puff of smoke, enjoy a drink on the ground floor then continue on their way. The beauty of the buildings everywhere is astounding. The massive stones and archways of every façade make wandering the streets such a pleasure. Despite the fact that something is happening everywhere in Paris or some historical location lurks around the corner, walking through the streets is interesting enough just to look at the architecture of common apartment buildings. Whoever dreamed this wonderland up from their imagination and got an entire city to play along, I am thankful for their imagination.
On a day trip to Versailles I get to experience the overwhelming luxury of royalty. After 10 minutes you go quite numb to the grandiosity of it all. The paintings and gold leaf and the history of it all. It’s not quite my taste truthfully, but interesting to witness and maybe have a ballroom party there once. I have to take stock at one point. I am in the museum hall with giant paintings and realize that one painting is the length of my old house. I quickly pace the width and discover that 8 of my 2200 sq foot homes will fit inside this single hall. I think it hits me then at the real size of this palace, which you can’t comprehend while being inside it without reference points. I escape to the gardens which are massively huge as well and quite by happenstance discover my favorite part of Versailles
In the summer palace the queen had a hamlet built to educate the young aristocrats on the workings of daily life for rural France. The amazingly styled buildings here with their gardens and picturesque landscape immediatly identiy with my plans for a community living space. I take my lunch here and just imagine what it would be like to live here and enjoy such beauty every day. I am so excited for my future way of life as I experience examples of it in this moment. My travels are already paying off well I think.
Back in Paris I pop out of a subway station into my own world of imagination. I rarely take a train on the outward journey so I am disoriented to my surroundings when I emerge in a new magical place. I am here to visit Robin’s favorite writing shop with leather bound journals. The smell of paper and the beauty of writing stare at me from every object of a time long past when the letter was an intimate treasure to give and receive. I still find handwriting and letter craft to be incredibly alluring and a moment to pause and contemplate life and the beautiful complexities of communication. Despite my romantic tendencies towards this art form I rarely partake in its pleasures. The digital age has taken the subtle art of waiting for news to arrive and replaced it with instant gratification and the accompanying magic, taken for granted, of communicating with someone halfway around the globe.
I return from my reverie to notice the magical state of affairs I find myself in. Every few shops is an artisan chocolatier and patisserie with their colorful gleaming displays and delicate creations which beckon my taste buds and curiosity. Since making friends with a local raw chocolatier in salt lake city I have had a healthy interest in artisan chocolate making from bean to bar. I wouldn’t be opposed to adding this to my list of hobbies if I find myself near the equator in my travels. Thus every shop has a new story for me to explore and subtle flavors to try. Had I the coin, I could happily spend days sampling every delicacy within sight. I even found a chocolate museum on my wanderings which contained some of the original recipies for chocolate, always consumed as a liquid for the high priests, and some historical ads for chocolate bars from France. While I have not broken down and tried every colorful pastry to catch my eye, when I try to grasp and explain my childlike joy at just viewing these treasures of culinary artwork, no one seems to appreciate them with me.
I hear the world over that spend enough time in one location and you go numb to the scenery and local flavor that was once a great joy. I am certainly a victim of this as well, at home I did not thoroughly explore every aspect that a visitor would find interesting, but I never once got bored with knowing and appreciating where the best food and delicacies where located. Perhaps since shops are located on every corner no one is concerned since the standard of quality is high across the board. Being from a smaller city, the selection wasnt so varied and the differences in taste were great. For now I am happy that everything I find is delicious and I could spend years here and not eat it all.
I must be exuding a comfortable sense of belonging because I get asked for directions about 3 times a day, by Parisians. It might also be the beard. I usually understand what they are after and the map on my phone shows them the nearest station. It’s also fun when Americans ask me directions in broken French, and I answer in French, then calmly ask them, “Do you speak English?”. Sometimes I leave out words to keep the wonderment in their faces alive and pretend to be somewhat of an oddity if not a local. Many travelers comment that their English gets worse as we drop words when speaking to non English speakers to get the meaning across because less is more when people are not fluent. It’s kind of fun, but I usually just slow my speaking down and everyone benefits. I really felt I had my basics down when an American started ordering her bread in English and the man behind the counter had that “I don’t know what you are saying look”. I happened to know a simple translation and offered it to the situation and felt pretty happy with myself as everyone got something they enjoyed. Communication offers so much enrichment to our lives and it’s not always the words, communicating the meaning to another and being understood is what’s important.
Of course there is no avoiding museums in Paris and many are worth seeing many times over. The musee d’orsay is a fine example of a permanent collection that covers many ages in history and one I find great value in seeing. Not all pieces moved me, but many went far beyond and I had to stare transfixed at the magnificent works. I struggle with art at times. If a works beauty doesn’t grab me upon laying eyes on it, it probably isn’t for me. That said, I have found that statues on their own for some reason escape my glances, but put that same statue in context, such as a church or in a garden and I will appreciate looking at it. Not every style or piece is my cup of tea, but I can appreciate the effort and vision that went into it.
That being said, some new works of contemporary modern just boggle my mind. I am often moved by a deep feeling of frustration, bafflement and then anger at some pieces being displayed by museums, decided upon by minds steeped in the art world and works presumably worth a lot of money. I think you perhaps know these works. They look like Sunday art projects thrown together by just about anyone who can devote a modicum of effort and the vaguest idea of a purpose. I saw 30 pieces of work, each a self portrait of the artist, made of a bit of plywood and pieces of computer parts and wires arranged haphazardly together. Of course I had to read the sign to know they were self portraits. To me they were a few hours and a spare parts bin thrown together that anyone could have made. A whole room was devoted to this prominent artist and my mouth just hangs open. Next to this was a whole room dedicated to a checkered floor, 2 half inflated crayon blowup toys and a metal frame square suspended from the ceiling. I couldn’t stand to read what this was supposed to mean because my brain cells hurt too much and I needed to escape from this world where people find this pleasurable to look at. This is a museum and the effort put into this looks like it took 10 minutes and the beauty or an interesting factor isn’t self evident, it needs to be explained to you and that I just can’t take.
This however leads me to the subtle work on myself I have been undergoing. To release the ego and it’s judgements. These works affected me, and thus to find the place affronted within me and become at peace with it is to encounter works like this again and remain at peace and go on about my day. I got seriously worked up about this at some level. Feeling like a bunch of kids got together behind closed doors and said let’s see what we can get away with calling art and displaying it to the public as some giant joke. On the other hand applying this ego clearing to the works I declare I like is also to be released. All judgements must be dropped and what will remain is what is and I will see reality as it really is. Catching the mind as it makes instant judgements about anything you encounter is the first step. Once this process is understood and stopped I can encounter anything and without judgement be in relation to it as it truly is without declaring it good or bad.
On the bright side I almost skipped the modern art museum Pompidou and I would have missed out. Almost everything here really had substance and a special exhibit took my attention with its focus on interaction with the viewer through sound, touch, and movement. Some of the films even came to life as actors moved about the exhibit bringing the experience into the moment. This exhibit and the permanent collection had pieces I even loved that took real thought and while expressed in a modern way were very effective at their message and beautiful in their own right and without explination. I am thankful for this learning experience to see into myself and what subtle tricks the mind can still get up to. As I move through my journey I will try to remain judgement free as new experiences show up to shine on my inner world.
I was graced with a few other learning experiences in my time here. In my effort to live life as a local I forgot the benefits of living like a traveler. I read once to treat everyday in your home city as if you were on vacation there. Laugh at the traffic, explore around the corner, and open your eyes to the majesty of the moment. No matter where you go I find that the newness wears off when you start to treat that place as routine. It is all a mindset and you can chose a more alive one anytime you want. I do think that it takes a certain kind of innocence and a child-like playful attitude to achieve successfully. I found myself one day counting beans and talking myself out of spending the extra money on enjoying some fine French macaroons. My goal is to live directly, in the moment and here I fell into the trap of just living out my days. Be a traveler and eat out everyday, have two ice creams, try everything, because who knows if tomorrow is coming. Also listen to your body when it comes to eating obviously and don’t overdo it. I am trying to live each day fully, with great feeling and vitality, and I found myself attempting to be extra thrifty and skipping opportunities to try new delicious foods because of what? Trying to get through my time in France affordably? As if that was my main intention and I had fallen back into the dull routine of daily life whose focus is money. It’s a question that will continue to follow me I think. What is the goal of a persons way of living? What do you get out of each day? Is that exactly what you want or just a means of delaying some greater dream? My dream at the moment is to eat delicious foods and visit my friends around Europe. I have the funds set aside for this within reason, but the intention and direction is important. I had lost the intention to old habits of denying myself in the moment for some lower desire to hoard and secure myself from future experiences or hardships. To free myself to express my intention in the moment and live a life of authenticity is the practice of this first portion of travel. To eat and fill myself with freedom and joy, then to go to India and meditate until balance comes between the two. Never forget the direction you are pointed, and if you are lost, be still until you know your direction, for aimless effort is bound to be in the wrong direction.
In discerning my direction and selecting a plan I’ve learned something. Given that I can go anywhere and do anything, (this is true for all people) figuring out what to do and how to go about it can seem complicated. Often it boils down to a simple decision, this way or that, north or south, Germany or Belgium. How does one decide? And when trying to plan around finding trains and places to stay, free opportunities, planning around friends schedules, seeing cool things, and your brain starts melting with all the planning between just two choices. I go for a walk. If another person might be involved in planning I shoot them a message to see how my ideas work for them. By the time I get back one person responds or one choice feels easier and that becomes the course. That settling in feeling aligns the universe to your decision and thus a course of action unfolds while all others fade. When I try to force a direction rather than let one unfold, madness ensues, like swimming against the current. I trust that I am always being guided to experiences and situations that allign with my way of being. This has not failed me yet. But letting go of the need to plan and choose, when planning does save you money on tickets, is tough. The particulars do sort themselves out easily and I’ve met great experiences when I finally relax, and just put out the word on where I want to go and see what comes back to me. Whether on Facebook or just stating my intention to myself and the world. Declare what it is you want and let the rest come to you! There are always little signs about going with the flow and when you are flowing all things can come to you. In the end, no matter where you go, there you are.
And it’s always perfect.
Eating well and off to Germany~
-The Wandering Monk