The Voyage of a Searching Soul

 

Whether its a dream that propels us to lands and people in our imagination, or the reality of planning a voyage to new destinations. Our heart lives for a Uruguayan sunset or the acoustic camouflage of the ocean that drowns out all other sensory distractions.

Our brain lives for the thrill of discovery which is at its height when we experience a place or event for the first time. Being in the mode of discovery opens our universe to the unveiling of new possibilities.

Those new possibilities create that inner smile that radiates through-out our body. This smile in turn  transmits negative ions that increase levels of the mood chemical, serotonin. This “serotonin” helps to alleviate depression, relieves stress, and boosts our energy. What could be better than to be on a voyage that illuminates all that brings a song to our soul?

New places we’ve read about and would love to visit brings cultures into the spotlight of discovery. Music, food, wine, architecture, and literature provide an interaction with those we’ve met along the way. This opens up the corridors of knowledge, bringing history books to life.

Enraptured by a tour of Buckingham Palace, the Louvre Museum, and the Burgundy region of France, we walk across a path tethered by the present, thinking of the past, eventually… to be shared in the future.

Each country we visit has its own magical charm that begs the question, “Have I been here before?” Past lives are open for discussion as familiarity breeds questions we can not answer.

Our propensity to gravitate towards certain foods, wines, and countries draws us closer to the past.  We breath in the smells, sounds, and flavors of cultures we can now speak of from experience. Each experience is a page in a book yet to be written, penned by an author immersed in the soul searching bounty of life.

As countries are brought into focus, I look for the finest to draw from in a short amount of time. I search for the best tours that create a real feel for the city. We find ourselves in the mode of discovery highlighting cultural expletives we must see that represent a grain of sand in the hourglass of life.

In Spain it will be flamenco guitar, tapas, sherry,  the most beautiful Gothic architecture, and world class beaches. Thriving in the  means of exploration I find things I wasn’t even searching for.

I stumbled across a page that listed the  best pizza restaurant in Europe located in Barcelona Spain, called “Sartoria Panatieri”. And on a more sublime note… who could forget one of the most revered artists of all time, Pablo Picasso born in Malaga, Spain.

Each city in every country has a story to tell. Each tale is brought to life through music. That music becomes a style that reflects a large part of the country’s identity. The arts are what draws people to experience different cultures.

And then there are other notes of culture to listen to. The food in every country which represents culture, climate, and products available. Each dish is passed down from generation to generation following the taste and traditions of the people who famously created it.

If you were to talk about how the top ten countries in the world prior to the 20th century related to their contributions to humanity… in almost every case music, food, wine, architecture, and literature would top the list.

Now it is technology and the advances turning luxuries into necessities. But before that it was the communication through the above mentioned arts that drew people to forget the struggles of everyday life.

In Portugal, Fado is a music of the world. Originating in Lisbon, Portugal,  it sings the feeling, heartbreak, and the longing for someone who is no longer in their life. The matches, or the mismatches of life are an infinite theme for inspiration. The mournful tunes and lyrics are often about the sea or life of the poor. Usually this music is infused with a sense of resignation, fate, and despair.

Every country, every state, every community, every person… if they’ve lived a little, writes poetry or sings songs about soulful sadness. It’s a lingering thought just beyond our reach… a perceptible weight on our heart.

The voyage of life is brought to a soulful crescendo when sadness is silenced. We learn to overcome our youthful hormonal surges that seems to create an emptiness inside. Then, with wisdom that comes with soulful searching, and of course age, we replace sadness with love.

The love we have for life’s voyage is a journey that leads us to search for answers about ourselves. Not only ourselves but those we’ve shared special memories with which are etched in the caverns of our mind… for as long as forever is.

Beloved Phrases from the Past

When I was growing up there were a plethora of phrases that embodied the spirit of the moment.  Many of these “sayings”  had historical origins.

Other phrases I attributed to my parents and grandparents. These are some of those notable sayings both historical and home grown.

“Turn a blind eye” is often used to refer to a willful refusal to acknowledge a particular reality. This dates back to a legendary chapter in the career of the British naval hero Horatio Nelson. During the 1801 battle of Copenhagen, Nelson’s ships were pitted against a large Danish-Norwegian fleet.

When his more conservative superior officer flagged him to withdraw, the one-eyed Nelson supposedly brought his telescope to his bad eye and blithely proclaimed, “I really do not see the signal.” He went on to score a decisive victory.

Some historians have since dismissed Nelson’s famous quip as merely a battlefield myth, but the phrase “turn a blind eye” persists to this day.

The phrase “paint the town red” most likely owes its origin to one legendary night of drunkenness. In 1837, the Marquis of Waterford, a known lush and mischief maker, led a group of friends on a night of drinking through the town of Melton Mowbray. The bender culminated after Waterford and his fellow revelers knocked over flowerpots, pulled knockers off of doors, and broke the windows of some of the town’s buildings.

To top it off, the mob literally painted a tollgate, the doors of some of the homes and a swan statue with red paint. The Marquis and his pranksters later compensated Melton for the damages, but their drunken escapade has lived in infamy.

“By and Large” is another phrase that originated on the high seas… like “taken aback”, “loose cannon”, and “high and dry”.

As far back as the 16th century the word “large” was used to mean that a ship was sailing with the wind at its back. Meanwhile, the much less desirable “by” meant the vessel was traveling into the wind. Thus, for mariners, “by and large” referred to trawling the seas in any and all directions relative to the wind.

“Butter someone up” means to impress someone with flattery. The origin of this was a customary religious act in ancient India. The devout would throw butter balls at the statues of their gods to seek favor and forgiveness.

“Mad as a hatter” of course means to be crazy. Believe it or not this phrase did not originate from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Its origins date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

In 17th century France, poisoning occurred among hat makers who used mercury for the hat felt. The “Mad Hatter Disease” was marked by shyness, irritability, and tremors that would make the person appear, “mad”.

“It’s raining cats and dogs” is supposed to have originated in England in the 17th century. City streets were filthy and heavy rains would occasionally carry along dead animals. Richard Brome’s, The City Witt, 1652, has the line “It shall rain dogs and polecats”. Also, cats and dogs both have ancient associations with bad weather.

“A stitch in time saves nine” means it’s better to solve a problem right away then to let it fester to become a much bigger problem. It’s first recorded in a book from the year, 1723. Of course it is a sewing reference. The idea is that sewing up a small rip with one stitch means the tear is less likely to get bigger and need more stitches, such as nine stitches later on.

However, the Prime Minister of England, Boris Johnson said this phrase as he announced extra rules on things like pubs closing times in England.

Several other phrases my grandmother used were as follows:

      • Many hands make light work
      • Absence makes the heart grow fonder
      • Never look a gift horse in the mouth
      • People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks
      • Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
      • Early to bed and early to rise makes you happy, healthy, and wise
      • Any job worth doing is worth doing well
      • Birds of a feather flock together
      • You’re preaching to the choir
      • More than you can shake a stick at
      • It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans
      • Goodness gracious (my favorite)

It’s funny how I would take these phrases for granted when I was shorter. Now I look back nostalgically and associate certain people and situations with the blessed memories of a time long ago.

I guess time is relative as we proceed to the final curtain. Each memory from the past related to our family takes on a very special meaning. We were captivated by phrases, not always understanding the meaning but certainly appreciating the delivery.

I remember my grandmother washing apples from her tree with soap and water. Occasionally an apple would slip out of her hands and land on the floor. That’s when she would exclaim, “Goodness gracious”.

I miss that phrase coming from my sweet grandmother.  That moment lives today in infamy, though not in life.

Which Direction do I Take?

 

Over the course of our short lives we are offered different choices that lead to a direction affected by circumstance. Each choice is offered because of opportunity or our gut feeling that we need to change.

Many times we come to a crossroad that provides us with what seems to be equal value options. It is only with vetting the options and using our internal guiding system that we have the possibility of the reward we’re looking for.

However, if we are given a false narrative, and we base our decision upon that, chances are the outcome will not be what we’re looking for. That is when we learn one of the most important factors in decision making… trust.

If we believe the person offering us a job is true to their word then we can believe the outcome will be favorable. In many cases we want to believe the word of a friend or even a stranger because that is human nature. Most people look for the best in a person, or a job situation thinking that our circumstance will transform magically due to a physical change in location.

The truth is, if you don’t have the inner strength to handle the obstacles that occur in life, your direction will be affected by weakness and self doubt. Thus, you will be like a spinning top that never lands in a place of contentment.

The happiness your searching for is illusive because you’re not content with your own spirit. I see people think “things” will make them happy. A new car or a myriad of a thousand physical things that cannot make up for the hollowness deep inside their soul.

The happiest people I’ve found are the ones that don’t rely on themselves for inner strength. The happiest people I’ve discovered have a belief system that  revolves around God, or whatever you want to call an entity that we can draw extra support and inner peace from.

With that power that is offered by something greater than ourselves, anything is possible. The direction becomes more focused, clearer, because we realize that we don’t have to posses all the power to make decisions that will affect our future.

To release that stress from being totally responsible for our direction, we give ourselves a greater chance for the success we’re looking for. In many cases it goes against our human nature to surrender to something beyond our field of vision.

It’s funny that when we learn to surrender… we become stronger. To believe in a “transcendent” force means believing in something beyond the physical universe, independent of it and outside of space and time.

The times I’ve only relied on myself for direction, I’ve encountered obstacles that were placed there by my own inability to understand the greater picture. Almost every time it was one step forward and two steps back. This learning curve that leads to hurdling obstacles did not have to be.

When I was younger I thought that moving to a new place would erase what was holding me back. That thought process was just delaying the inevitable collapse. Of course we do learn more from our mistakes than our victories.

The mistakes we make (providing we don’t make them again) leads to a term that comes with age, “wisdom.” This wisdom can be traced to poor decisions that eventually led to self reflection. It is very important that through this process you don’t lose the gift of belief in your own abilities.

In our lifetime we will have great supporters for the road we choose, that’s called “family”. Then there are the friends we will have for a lifetime that believe in you, sometimes above the belief you have in yourself.

Those friends are rare indeed. They will be battle tested with the vicissitudes of relationships that are complicated but well worth the journey together. Each friend like that is a rare jewel. Giving support for years to those you love and care about is such a gift to those whom receive it and those that give it.

Directions in life are paths woven in soul searching expeditions that are framed in optimism. Each journey down that path excavates the wisdom we all search for to make a decision that will lead to a happy and healthy life.

Each decade provides different expectations. Responsibilities, and growing friend and family circles leads us to different nuances centered around others. Eventually when we live our lives and look back into the “Days of Future Past” we understand one important and simple lesson.

The greatest thing in life is to love and be loved in return.