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Coldplay by the Lake

Lucerne , Switzerland 
Behind Kapelle St. Peter in a little cobble stone courtyard by the fountain of Fritschi, stands an enthusiastic young busker. With his guitar he plays the riff notes of popular tunes. The words he sings echoes in the neighboring alleys and soon, people come in waves, drawn-in by his effortless, full-throated crooning. 

The young man takes his time, he’s clearly enjoying all the attention. Swiftly and expertly he gauges the crowd. They’re young. Without a moment’s hesitation he begins to belt out lyrics from a well known Coldplay anthem. Instantly, bystanders are transformed into willing participants in his impromptu concert. They sing along gleefully as they keep time to the infectious rhythm. 
Gradually the music fades and the feet tapping comes to an end. The musical moment they all just shared is now a travel memory. People move forward and instinctively reach into their bags and pockets, filling his guitar cease with Euros, loose change and billet-doux scribbled on the backs of paper napkins.

Scant conversation ensues. Staccato phrases, well done, amazing, a nod of appreciation, endless thank yous. Then, the multicultural crowd disappears as quickly as it had assembled. 

When you travel, language can be such a barrier sometimes but it is so wonderful the way in which music connects us all.
busk1

bʌsk/

verb

gerund or present participle: busking

1.

play music in the street or other public place for voluntary donations.

“the group began by busking on London sidewalks”

2.

informal

improvise.

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Home is a Feeling 

1st July, 201

Somewhere in France, heading through Germany towards Switzerland

Travel allows for sitting meditation. The mind luxuriates in the kind of tranquility that only an open road can bring. The soul too finds its opportunity to breathe. It inhales deeply and exhales slowly, as it releases months, sometimes years of bottled feelings. Some are simple emotions, others complex, with jagged edges.

As the countryside swooshes by in swirls of green, the mind relaxes. There are no thoughts today, no worries, no plans, no tasks to be completed, no words to be spoken, nothing. Clear. Like the highway itself. There’s only a sense of profound appreciation for the moment.

It’s a funny paradox, every minute advances you further towards journey’s end and yet, the feeling is that of calm and stillness. Almost like an out of body experience, the real you floats above in the ether watching the physical you make your way from point to point on a map, stopping intermittently for little bursts of reality before you retreat again.

I wonder why we need a periodic escape to feel alive like this. Why does it take a visa to a strange city or verdant wilderness to rediscover sides of you that you don’t see enough. Why does one feel more at home exploring these places, than when at home itself? The company of friends though valuable sometimes pales in comparison to the company of strangers. There are no expectations here, no masks, just you and them enjoying the intimacy of a fleeting moment shared. It’s kind of incredible how potent an encounter can be. Words spoken, experiences shared, all of them live on with you. Like keepsakes they remind you of something special, you feel alive again, you imagine that moment over and sometimes you break into smile. When you least expect it, the sounds of a familiar tune or the mention of a city will brighten up your day.

Everything you experience becomes a part of who you are. Like a patchwork quilt you begin to add bits and pieces till you’re left with a fabric of mismatched colors. There’s no uniform patter in the stitches, it looks ragged and lacking the finesse that comes from the hands of an expert. But the stitches are special to you, each one carefully done, holding together the myriad memories. There is love in the details, nuances that  catch only your eye.

You think your patchwork is a thing of beauty, so you display it proudly like a fine tapestry. While everyone else examines, speculates and conjectures, you listen, amused. You chuckle sometimes, you smile even when a random comment touches a nerve. You know what the quilt represents. Only you know.

Travel experiences are beautiful, spiritual even, they entertain, nourish and heal. Plans are great, but sometimes not knowing can be exhilarating too. You miss the ones you love but you carry them with you wherever you go. Home, afterall is no longer a physical space. Home is a feeling. When you travel you leave parts of you in all the places you go but you carry with you so much more than you realize. All of it becomes part of who you are, it stays with you and suddenly everywhere begins to feel like home.

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Dear Pa..

Dear Pa,

I remember sitting on the windowsill in Elliot road, after masi had finished getting me ready for the evening – hair slicked back in my signature style, dowsed in talcum powder and ready to greet you and ma at the door in my weekday best. I usually spent those evenings watching airplanes fly overhead, waiting for your Vespa to come gurgling through the gate. Then there were times I would play in the shadows of passing planes wondering what you were doing in whichever part of the world you were in.

You pa, taught me the love of travel. You taught me that spending money on experiences always beats spending money on material things and that the world is full of so many different destinations with so many cultures to learn from and appreciate. Without leaving home, you showed me more than you will ever know. You took my imagination and led me all over the world just through your stories, the photographs you brought back and the passion with which you recounted every detail.

I am thankful every day that I have a dad who understands that, while an education is a priceless gift, you learn so much more experiencing the world than you ever could from a textbook. Cultures, traditions, food, manners, and languages are all things that must be experienced to be fully understood. Thank you for always encouraging me to get up and go, because when I did, I started to learn who I was.

Happy Father’s Day Pa, I’ll see you soon!

Love, Syd.

 

 

 

 

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A Season for Everything 

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. -Ecclesiastes 3:1

Some people love summertime, others love the cold of winter months. Me? More than anything, I love the changing of seasons. It really doesn’t matter from what season to another, I love the fact that there’s a certainty, a progress to the year that you can count on – summer will end and respite will come. Monsoon clouds will drift away, the sun will shine again. Seasons will change no matter what happens in our lives.

The Bible says there is a season for everything in life. If only we could embrace the seasons of our lives as willingly as we embrace the seasons of the year. It’s been said that the only thing that is constant is change; but unfortunately that’s what we tend to resist most.

Seasons put my life into perspective. I gaze out onto the trees that line the streets in my home city and know that not only are some of them older than me, but they will be here for many generations after I’m gone. I look at trees in the city I currently live in, they’re here today, could be gone tomorrow. 

Seasons kind of just put things about life into perspective, don’t they?

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Simple Things 

There is a certain coffee mug I own. It’s not too tall, not too short or wide and when I hold it, it nestles itself snugly in my palms. It has a wide mouth with a subtle taper and it’s oversized enough to hold just the right amount of coffee for me. It edoesn’t shine anymore and there’s a tiny chip on the rim – but to me, it’s perfect.

Do you find that in all parts of life, the greatest joys are in the simplest of things? The ones that come your way unexpectedly or disappear quickly but leave you basking in an afterglow? 

My coffee mug may seem like an eyesore to some people but both with my mug and with life, I think it’s important to know a good thing when you find it. You treasure it, don’t let it go. 

Jumped out of bed to put a thought into words but I think I’ll have a coffee in my favourite mug, now that I’m up. 

Simple things, I tell you! 

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The voice in which she read to me…

maTomorrow is ‘Mother’s Day’ in some parts of the world and so, at 7:00 am I’ll get on the phone, dial the only number I know by heart and wait for her familiar voice to greet me. I can gauge mum’s mood instantly, it is instinctual. Some day’s she’s excited to tell me the latest family gossip, on others, her tone is reflective and poignant. I can tell what my mother is thinking, before she has gotten through two lines of conversation.

My mother does so many voices!

Mum has a morning voice, a voice to call out my dog’s name, a voice for my dad, a shy voice, a ‘dinner’s ready and I am waiting’ voice that can get my brother and I out and about in under 30 seconds, an ‘I said so’ voice she rarely uses, a voice reserved for family and a voice that says she means business. My mother is voice-over artist waiting to be discovered.

But of all the voices my mother does, one of my favorites will always be the voice in which she read to me.

By the time I was four or five I was dreaming of pirates and forest sagas. By middle school, I was listening intently to her voice, guiding me as I climbed the ladder at a local books store to retrieve my weekend stash of Perry Mason novels. Sometimes she read me fiction, most times she read from her Bible. Planting permanent truths in my mind and in my heart.

I’m grateful for this childhood experience for many reasons. Having mum read to me meant that I could greet a large number of the stories and ideas that I encountered throughout my schooling as old friends. I had a frame of reference for things which would otherwise have been incomprehensible. It means that today, I get an additional layer of nostalgia when I see an Earl Stanley Gardner paperback sitting on the corner of a library shelf.

Because of mum, I have chunks of The Psalms and Paulo Coelho in quotable memory. The voice in which she read to me still reminds me of the power of words and the manner in which they can impact people’s lives.

Today, I thank my mother not just for giving me life, but giving me the ability to live several lives, and for introducing me to a shining multitude of worlds to experience them in. It is because of you, Ma, that I look at life a little closer, go deeper, travel further, and ask what if I try….? You’ll never know the full extent of what that means for me, or perhaps you do already?

Happy Mother’s Day Ma. ‘Love you heartful’

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It’s time to start writing again.

It’s time to start writing again.  I’ve kept up with reading.  In fact, I’ve read more than 17 novels this year, and it’s only mid-May. That is an accomplishment, for me. If I were to devote even just a portion of the time I spend reading and watching TV shows to writing, I’d easily have 50 more blog entries by now if not a more tangible piece of writing. Writing is catharsis for me, but I definitely have not spent enough time doing it lately.

In some ways, I feel a bit like an addict… I keep falling off the wagon and I keep recommitting myself.  I feel better about it each time, and I stick with it for a while, but then life gets in the way again.

I have a plethora of half-finished blog entries. I generally don’t post anything until I’ve reviewed it, edited it, re-reviewed it again, and generally feel like it’s both reasonably well written and of a reasonable length.  I’ve always been afraid of making too small entries – feeling like people deserve a good chunk of content when they give me their eyeballs for a few minutes.  And in truth, even when writing short pieces like this one, it takes me about ten times as long to write, read, edit, and publish than it does for you to read it.  But I’m going to start trying to be a bit less of a perfectionist.  I’m going to publish more pieces, even if I don’t feel like they’re perfect, and even if I feel like they’re too short.

Catharsis can be difficult to find when the prospect of engaging in your cathartic activity is sometimes daunting. But I’m not a quitter (except when it comes to getting my driving license but that’s a whole other blog post)… and the fact that I haven’t been updating the blog has always stuck in the back of my mind like a … stuck in the back of your mind kind of thing…

So I guess I’m back, I guess I am going to write and publish some more posts and I’m certainly not going anywhere, even if I go into hiding once in a while.

 

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