Thinking Is The Best Way To Travel.

A StartTravel is always interesting because, even if you have been to the destination before, it’s new again. Time is that stream we dip our cups in; the contents of the stream change even though we still call it a stream.

I was on an airplane not too long ago – I got up at 2 a.m., drove for an hour, parked, took a bus into an airport and stood in a TSA line for 45 minutes – where I quipped that they better have found a terrorist during that time to a few of the 500 or so people herded together by people in uniform, constantly reminding us to be in single file lines and to have our documents out and ready for the inspection 45 minutes away. We didn’t know it was 45 minutes away. For all we knew, there were people waiting for us with baseball bats around the next corner. Fortunately, this was not true.

Still, myself and a few others found hope in the imagining of all of this being worth it, that some would-be terrorist would be in stocks when we got to the end and that there would be rotten fruit provided to throw at them.

This was not to be the case.

From there, our new found friends scattered to different gates where we sat, waiting to be pressed into long sardine cans with wings – with windows that might as well have been a Hollywood set. We got in the air, and at 7:30 a.m. were allegedly in the air. By 8:47 a.m., we were allegedly in another airport – 6 hours and 47 minutes spent traveling to a destination that was really only 2 hours away from where I started, had fear-driven bureaucracy not given credence to what we endured.

In a shift of luck I have not experience in all my travels – and that is a lot – the gate for my connecting flight was almost immediately next to that of my arriving flight. I had time to get into yet another line for a protein shake since, without appearing despondent, the woman informed me that there was no coffee available at this hour. I am not so certain I mirrored her expression.

The next flight included 2 gentlemen on either side of me – one of which found an empty seat elsewhere, the other who was bravely maneuvering a pinata through 6 connecting flights… successfully. There should be a ribbon for that. And as the flight progressed, I decided to forego the pleasure of watching the latest Star Wars for the 2nd time, instead planning to doze. Pinata-man’s post nasal drip had other plans for me; his constant hawking lacked enough rhythm or lack of it to sleep to; I took the trouble to find my headphones so that I could block him out.

I ended up watching the movie, and one of the light saber battles began – an epic battle, twisting and turning, slicing, parrying and thrusting – a show that might have amused Musashi. Right in front of the screen, a woman apparently was so excited that she had to go to the bathroom, causing a wave of heads across the screen during the battle. Inwardly, I groaned. The battle ended as she hurried by. I sighed. A gentleman who had been dozing with his window blind down suddenly felt the need to open it and fill out customs forms during a dark part of the movie, allowing the sun to blind one of my eyes as I watched at a despondently dark screen – as if it were depressed by his actions.

And lo! At the very ending, my favorite part when Luke says not a word but volumes with his face, Mr. Pinata PostNasalDrip had an emergency requirement for the toilet.

We landed, and 12 hours later I was at my destination – eeking my way through immigration somewhat familiar, somewhat different, where invariably because of my passport the immigration officer would predictably say that I could have gone through the other line and it would have been faster (regardless of which line I was in). I grabbed my 15 lbs of belongings at the baggage claim, made my way through customs with decades of experience and absolutely no wit– something they do not appreciate  – and made my way out into sunlight, into a familiar land that was not so familiar, to meet people who were familiar but different, to deal with issues that were familiar but different.

Thinking is a much better way to travel. More leg room.

Hat tip to the Moody Blues for the title. 


Strategy and Sacrifice

Story time.

My father was teaching me chess back when I was a kid. About 9. He and my mother always played, and I suppose they thought it was time for me to learn. I had my ass handed to me, but I always got back to the chess board – and I was always playing, even alone I would play myself. The habit of playing against myself would stay with me for about a decade, and taught me much about seeing different perspectives at the same time.

My father taught me not to lose pieces because they were valuable. I saw that his strategy worked for him and that it didn’t work for me and, one day on the back patio of a 1970s suburban home in Ohio, I sacrificed my Queen. He shook his head, frowned at me in the way only a disappointed father could, and in 3 moves I had him in checkmate. I celebrated, having finally beaten the champion of the house.

Mahin Rampersad at Sam Young House (18-3-1967)He would not play me again for 30 years. I would see later that in beating him I had created a divide. That’s him on the left in the picture.

I had sacrificed a part of the relationship with my father when I beat him that day – his identity was tied to winning at chess and his son, using a strategy that he didn’t want his son to use, had beaten him fairly. I would go on to play chess in the house with anyone and I would and typically win (we remember our successes and downplay our failures, I know that). The only person I really wanted to play with was the old man.

Sure. I was only 9 and I wasn’t the adult, and my father – like everyone else’s – was imperfect. I refuse to blame him, instead taking the lesson from it.

What I learned, though, was that to become good at something, or to achieve something you want, you have to sacrifice. I would later learn that what you want isn’t necessarily for you, that you can want something for someone else and make the same sacrifices.

Sometimes you protect the ones you care most about by sacrificing your own wants and needs. It might mean a white lie here and there. It might mean hiding your feelings for someone you care deeply about, knowing that showing them would make their situation worse.

We talk a lot about strategy and winning, but we don’t talk enough about deciding what we want to win, or deciding what is best for those around us. Taken too far, it can be selfish – robbing others of choices. Taken not far enough, it can also be selfish – adversely affecting things just so we get some short term gain.

In the end, we decide what we sacrifice – and sometimes we don’t and have unforeseen things crop up. That’s called life.

Sometimes we make tough decisions and hope for the best.

The Tide

NSB Sunrise

The salt breeze beckons.
Standing on the edge, water
Laps at the feet, licks the legs
The toes sink with each wave,
Rooting, poised, still, ready
Anchored in the present,
Eyes to the future
The tide dragging it closer,
The past washes away.

Every morning.

The Promise of New Horizons

NSB Sunrise (BW)Once again, I drove out to the beach this morning expecting the chill start of the day would create great isotherms with the sub-Saharan dust, making for wonderful colors. The chill would assure less people were there running through my frames.

And like most quiet mornings there, I had time to consider. There are a lot of things on my mind right now – be it finding the next job, to issues with land, to family, to friends, to all those details that compose our lives – and we tend to judge them in black and white. We tend to think in what’s good for us and what’s not. If you think long enough about them, they become noise and you can get underneath.

This morning, underneath, I thought about how some live lives that they regret while others regret lives that they don’t have – and how wasteful regret is when you are staring at a horizon.A colorful horizon.
NSB Sunrise

Where we stand gives us the view, how we got to that point is history – a series of steps or missteps, a product of planning with a co-efficient of the randomness of life. There is no sense in worrying about how we got there. the only thing that really matters is where we want to be – where we think we’re supposed to be…

And getting there.

Just like framing a shot at the beach.