Monday, February 18, 2008

Travels, real and fictional

This is the photo of the far Eastern Himalayas in Yunnan as I traveled from Li Jiang up toward Tiger Leaping Gorge on the day I finally arrived at Gyalthang, now Shangri-la [!!] and astonished myself with a broken hip. This is my screen saver for the time being. If you click the photo you can see some are snow capped, they are well over two miles high. I am thinking about this as a long thread of circumstance that started with an ad for a job. That is on my mind because one of the pleasures of an online site called Swap-bot is that there are writing "swaps" on topics that I would not write about and might not share with others if someone did not suggest it on that site In this case it was "how a job changed my life."

Of course the job was working for Dr. B. and getting fascinated by the travels of her long dead ex-husband in Tibet and my subsquent interest in that entire complex of places and ideas and history that's been part of my last 15 years. The trip to Yunnan was almost an aside. Undertaking these writing swaps pushes me in ways I wouldn't push myself without the goal of being able to share these shards of my life with strangers ... to some, perhaps many people, that sounds like a very peculiar thing to do. Not to a writer -- that is why a writer writes. The feeling of being a pebble dropped in the pond, sending out the ripples. I've always been moved and fascinated by those ripple made by other writers and wanted to do the same. Thus I am reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's largely reportial News of a Kidnapping. I have entered into a world about which I know only a little -- although much more in the last three days than I knew before. It's not pretty, it's not cheery but it's a picture of how life is [or was] lived not long ago that I find worth understanding told in the prose of a writer whose integrity I trust totally.
So that's where I am tonight. Partly at the base of the Himalayas,partly at the northern most part of the Andes.

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