An astrologer friend in Paris did my chart when I was living there in 1980. Only two things she said struck me, the first being that I was a born traveler and shouldn’t ever expect to settle down (this was before I met Cynthia and we bought a renovation project in the east of France and settled in for twenty-two years); the second thing she said was that I was a writer, that I should be writing. Every four or five years when we update my chart she always asks if I’m writing and I always hem and haw and make excuses. Of course, in 1980 blogging didn’t exist, and I was just a kid of forty with nothing of any importance to say. If I wrote anything it was just to clear the cobwebs, not to show to the world.
But that was then and now is now. The world has changed and I’ve grown up a little bit. I’ve also obeyed my traveling impulses enough to realize what attracts me and why. In addition, certain authors have helped me sharpen my awareness of what kind of traveler I am.
Barbara Kingsolver, for example, has a brilliant way of placing two cultures side by side, as she has done in The Poisonwood Bible and Pigs in Heaven. I certainly don’t have her genius in dramatizing this subject but I do have a lifelong fascination with how my American Protestant Puritan conditioning is affected and challenged—and changed—by the Latin cultures I’m drawn to. Connectivity to family, community and the earth are lived out very differently in the two cultures. This subject draws me back repeatedly.
Thomas Moore’s focus on care of the soul and how to create a religion of one’s own plays into this, as does Peter Kingsley’s thesis of how our culture lost its “original instructions .” Thomas Berry and Wendell Berry have given me a lot to chew on as well, when I ask myself how a culture impacts the natural world.
In the absence of the sacred, how are we to proceed? It’s a question not easily answered.
I have been told that if I’m to do a blog, I must have a mission. So what is my mission? Well, if it’s anything, it’s what it has always been, how to create beauty and meaning in spite of having been raised in a culture of expediency and utility that looks upon such things as superfluous. I think that’s why I travel; I want to enter a world where such things have a long and revered history, where they are still alive, where I can feel inspired to join in. Where some of that magic might even rub off on me.
Developing vision of how it is best to live is a mission I’ve been on since childhood, and if I can help even one person further their understanding of their role in living on a more viable planet earth, I’m a rousing success in my own eyes.
Cynthia and I have been married since 1985, although in my mind I date our soul-bond from 1982 when I first met her. Only my therapist knew I dreamed of her and I was taken by surprise in 1984 when she announced she was leaving her husband. I could not fail to let her know how I felt and we built our relationship from there.
We are very different. She reads historical fiction and cookbooks like a teenager reading a bodice-ripper, and she’s much more concrete and aesthetically aware than I am–in spite of my practice of making art–while I am more abstract and obsessed with ideas and concepts.
So we don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on how to live life (we both have to compromise) but we share a love of foreign cultures and travel and we both need to create beauty somehow. Our twenty-two year sojourn in France used our talents to the hilt. We created one of the most impressive renovation/ bed-and-breakfast projects in the east of France, although that idea never occurred to us in the beginning. It just happened by virtue of some beaver-like instinct to keep improving and building. We simply couldn’t stop.
The euro ate our dollars unfortunately and we had to sell, so now we find ourselves more footloose than we ever were in the years of parenting and renovation, but if we were to come across another opportunity to create something beautiful, I’m not sure we could resist.
We call this site “bifocal” so we can express our individual reflections on travel. We each have a different focus on just about everything, but we always find a way to create something we both love and find beautiful.
Our years in France could be called “deep travel.” We stopped in one place long enough to develop a relationship with it, to contribute to it, even to love it in its daily details. The natural environment is stupendous there.
Now we’re more nomadic, which has different advantages, advantages which we intend to exploit to the fullest as we advance into the so-called third act of life. May this website inspire the mature traveler who wants a deeper, more expanded experience of the world.