January 2005 Reflection

I am sitting in the Seville Starbucks. A bastion of generic American corporate culture no different then my Starbucks outside the University of Minnesota or the Annapolis Starbucks I escape to when buffeted by the occasional storms of my parents home. Normalcy, I traveled half-way around the world to Europe, the last three weeks of it across Morocco and now Spain; and I sit in Starbucks. Something about it makes me want to think it is sad. Not sad like the laments of Ella Fitzgerald that waft through the room bemoaning the injustices of life. Not sad like the sorrow of lost love. Sad in the way that an old man always idealizes the cars of his youth, never able to fully appreciate that which is new on the same level. Our history swallows us and reshapes the world as we observe it, and as that glass grows thicker and more tinted, what we see becomes less and less like that which is (brief pause, I just found a copy of the Sunday New York times lying on a chair-a source of rhapsodic pleasure I have not enjoyed in far to long. I take it all back this is not sad, it is bliss!).

Two hours later…

The joys of the Sunday Times, there are few things as grand. To immerse myself in the trails and tribulations of the Vikings, the latest furor over executive compensation, or the magazine’s cries of foul over the Chinese pirating of intellectual property; the sheer thickness of thought so soothing. Yet, when I step out the door of my American enclave, I will be returning to the enchanting streets of Seville with its twisting alleyways, delectable tapas bars and singular architecture. And with the gust of wind around a stone corner and the click of horseshoes on the cobblestones, the world around me will be new, wondrous, and clear, piercing the sameness of Times, the Starbucks, the music. This is why I travel. In Morocco, as Kesav and I stood on the dunes of the Sahara and marveled at the undulations of sharp sandy ridges, the complication of life – not so much unlike that sargasso of ridges and hollows- that countless, days, nights and in betweens had left, was wiped away by the strangeness of it all. In a moment it was clear that in the enormity of the world I both knew naught and it would always be so.

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