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Mindful : April 2013
pilgrims’ temple, that prompted me to decide to move to Japan 25 years ago. Our journeys, the traveler learns, are defined not by their destinations but by their starting points, the ways we choose to approach the destination; nothing is good or bad but thinking ma kes it so. Once when I was flying from Frankfurt to Los Angeles, I found myself next to a young woma n from Berlin. We talked a little, but otherwise, for the 11 hours of the flight, she didn’t sleep, didn’t read, didn’t turn on her video screen. She simply sat in her chair, looking ahead. Just before you. It’s not a matter of finding answers, in short, but of clarifying the questions— and then finding the courage to live with them. The traveler quickly learns that uncertainty is his home and imperma- nence his most loyal companion. The layover that is so excruciating for one wayfarer can bring to another sanctuar y, a way of gathering thoughts (the better to let them go). And nowhere is uninter- esting to an eye that’s wide awake. It was an overnight stay at Narita airport, of all places, and a three-hour trip into the small town near Tokyo’s airport, and its Locations, pages 60 to 63: Beijing; Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India; Thingvellir, Iceland; Lake Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico. we touched down, I asked her where she was going and she told me she was a social worker, on her way to a month-long holiday in Hawa ii. The long plane trip was the way she prepared for stillness and calm, when she let all the stress and pain of her day job seep out of her. Perhaps she could have done this at home, but a large part of me thinks that 11 straight hours of quietness at home can be difficult to find and difficult to stay within. Travel, perhaps, is just a way of learning how to make one’s way back home, a live. ●