Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Does travel broaden our experience?

People can travel and never leave the several square miles of their accustomed world. McDonalds international, depends on that. I'm not particularly responding to that famous quote by Mark Twain here... but this brings up a lotta stuff for me. I've never 'traveled.' That is--abroad, as they say. I've never had the money--most of my life, it was a matter of paying for food and rent for the next month. By choice. This isn't a complaint. Though I would like to have seen more of the world--that was a passionate yearning in my youth... which makes it complicated now, at my age, that it's very unlikly I ever will. I've told myself, that with a mind, and not just a mind...all the senses--open to where you are, you needn't wander far from your front door to take in most of the richness that life offers. And if you're a poet, or artist... all the more so. That if one couldn't do that, travel wouldn't add anything. Travel is broadening, in a sense, only for those who wouldn't need it. Wonderful as it must be. One's soul is no smaller for never having left one's front yard. No, it's not envy... but some kind of, I don't know... itch, I feel, when people talk about the great soul expanding experience of traveling the world. As though, it weren't that they were traveling because their souls were already expanding and they felt the need to seek space to match! I feel myself to be very much a citizen of the world... and not the human world alone. I make jokes. I say, when I hear long accounts of visits to wonderful exotic lands... that, once in a while, I take the High Speed Liine to Camden. Would Emily Dickenson have been a greater poet, if she'd tossed a coin in the fountain at Trivoli? Fed the pigeons on the Piazza of St. Mark? It might very well have made her a much worse poet. If she'd thought that was more important that what she learned from her garden in Amherst. I'll likely die in Philly, where I've lived for almost 50 years. And I think, the whole world will be there in my heart.


  1. Funny that the value judgements on better/worse poeting creep in there.

    Where would you go, if you went to a where?

  2. Where would I go? I don't know. There is so little possibility, that it doesn't cross my mind. When I was 17 or 18, or in my 20's--Florence, Sienna, Venice, Rome, Paris. Do all the art museams. Japan to tour the gardens. Once upon a time, to visit archeological sites in Iraq. For sure, not anymore. Southern France. Prague.
    The poet thing, cause this came out of a conversation I had, long long ago, with someone who thought that, to be a great writer or artist, one had to have broad experience of the world, by which they meant: travel. It was my thought that what made an artist , was what they did with the experience they had.