Viking Spirit, Gypsy Soul

I was born on Grandpa’s birthday. We had a bond. Maybe because I was the only one who would play checkers with him. Or maybe it was because I inherited his adventure-loving Viking genes. I wish I could thank him for that.

At 18 years old he boarded a ship bound for America to make a life for himself in the New Country. Two years later he sailed back and married his sweetheart. Several months after that, pregnant with their first of twelve children, Rachael and Bendik said goodby to family and left Norway behind.

But it wasn’t just Grandpa who loved adventure. Every summer Dad took a month off and loaded the station wagon. He invented a special “topper” that rode on the roof and held the tent, pots, pans, sleeping bags, clothing, his guitar and my ukelele. It was one of those vehicles that had three seats and one of them faced the back window. My brother always sat back there. My sister alternated between that seat and the middle where I was. I never could ride backward without extreme consequences to my digestive tract. Mom was the navigator and sometimes took a turn at the wheel.

We camped all over the United States and into Canada, stopping at every historical marker, scenic overlook, roadside rest area, and state park along the way. At night, after pitching the tent, we sat around the campfire singing The Wreck of the Old 97, and Down in the Valley, and She Was Some Daisy for a Nineteen Year Old. I lived for those trips.

So the fascination for changing vistas is ingrained. Viking spirit, gypsy soul, wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving…I no longer even try to resist. In three days I’ll board Korean Air for another 26 hour flight half way around the world. Excitement ripples in happy waves as I anticipate four more months in Bali.  In the words of the poet, Rumi:

Come, come, whoever you are, wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving – it doesn’t matter, ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times. Come, come again, come.

Photo of Tanah Lot, Bali by:

Do You Dare to Dream?

It’s getting better. I resisted my middle-of-the-day nap today. Went instead to Costco for a few groceries. BIG mistake! I was quickly overwhelmed by the abundance of people, products, everything. But I did manage to walk out with the vegetables and rice I needed to make Indonesian food, and that was the goal.

So this afternoon I boiled the rice, chopped the veggies, opened one of the precious packets of Gado-Gado sauce I brought home with me, and sat down to pure delight. The flavor was exactly as I remembered it and I savored every delicious mouthful. Then I pulled up my e-mail and found a note from Brigitte, my German friend. She told me how much she misses Bali, how she had started crying and hugged the guide who had taken her all over the island when he dropped her at the airport. She said she is planning to return in October. Her confession made me feel more normal.  I am not the only one experiencing separation anxiety!

I love the Amalfi Coast of Italy. The fiords of Norway struck a chord deep in my cells. Luxumborg inspired one of the best poems I’ve ever written. At Unmunsa in South Korea I simply wept from a too-full heart. In London, Paris, Lucerne, Budapest, Simrishamn, I embraced the cultures and the people with intensity and joy. There are wondrous places all over the world where I have been inspired and delighted. But Bali feeds something much deeper. Bali is the perfect lover and I have been seduced. Voluptuous and warm, it generously gives with no thought for itself.

Where is it in the world that speaks so eloquently to you, dear friend? Do you dare to wonder? Do you dare to dream?

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