Across Land And Sea: The Passage From Barcelona To Sicily

Across Land And Sea: The Passage From Barcelona To Sicily


I wouldn’t normally do this; including a forward I mean.  I really try to make my posts coherant and to the point and written in a fashion so that a forward such as this is not required.  However, the words that follow were written over the course of three days of constant travel.  There were highs and lows and everything in between and I think the scattered nature of what follows expresses that.  I also want to acknowledge at this time the English conversation group in Cagliari.  Nothing breaks the loniliness of solo travel like being able to converse in one’s native tongue.  It’s even better when that conversation is with truly wonderful people.  Every single person I talked to the other night I want to thank personally…but I can’t so, you know, sorry.  Anyway, here it goes.

The colors of Sardegna on this stormy, end of autumn day are the cool and soft pallet usually reserved for dreams.  The deep slate of the ever threatening and occasionally drenching sky caps the silvered green of the olive trees which in turn sit atop the eggshell sandstone of the island.  Hues that somehow connect directly to my heart and render a desire that the windows had been washed before I boarded this train.  Rusted and abandoned rail cars appear and then fall behind soon to be lost to my memory as well as the world’s.  The dome of a renaissance era cathedral stands  proudly above the skeletal roofless walls of some building falling to ruin and, like so much else, Sassari vanishes into the fog of the past.  Damp streets line the structures and facades of Oristano and as yet it’s too early to tell if this dream shall be happy or nightmarish or just a surreal vision that upon waking leaves one with queasy emotions of embarrassment or longing.


Amidst the uncertainty there is comfort in the colors of the storm.  The storm is vibrant and dynamic.  The monsoon storms of my youth brought relief from the desperate heat of the Arizona summer.  The exhilaration and primal fear of lightning followed by the growing volume of the  drums of rolling thunder signalled to the dry and cracked land: rejoice for your cries of thirst have been heard and soon it shall be quenched.   The storm brings life and leaves the world freshened and cleansed in its wake.  The storm moves on south and east and I follow: not out of some desperate quest to hold on to a fleeting feeling or love mind you, rather just the reality of train travel where one has no choice but to ride the rails one finds oneself on.

Amidst the uncertainty there is also the joy of camaraderie.  This crossing from Barcelona has included a happy connection to my past in Juneau as well as the brief companionship of an Argentinian.  As is almost always the case, the boat left hours late the other night and it was midnight when the magnificent exit from the great city’s port began.  The grand structures of the modern maritime shipping industry saluted us few who had remained awake long into the night and the departure from that glorious, albeit expensive, city was heightened by the completion of the cypher.   He was off to see his brother whom he had not encountered in person for two years.   Certainly my travels have forced time away from my brother but never for so great a time and in my broken-ass Spanish I offered what empathy I could.   Their reunion in Porto Torres the following morning was truly heartwarming.  The embrace left them both in tears and left me with both the joy of seeing such brotherly love  and the pangs of being so far from my own hermano.


The train moves south ever onward towards Cagliari while apparitions and phantoms surround and envelop me.  The spirit of the hope of somehow returning to the lost love appears in the olive grove before the spectre of resentment and acceptance of total loss appears and the two battle in a swirling vortex within.  The figment of the future, equipped with the abyssal unknown and inescapability, manifests in the hallowed temple of my contentment; attacking the walls yet never able to take hold.  Faith, despair, right, wrong, love, loss…these are just words.  How does one put to page the wild unhinged maelstrom within?  Maybe I am alone in feeling this way, maybe the exodus from this endless existential toil is some simple proverb a la Dorothy’s revelation upon returning to Kansas in the original movie version of the wizard of oz.  That is to say maybe I should have just looked in the backyard.  Of course book Dorothy was far more hardcore and would likely never settle for so trite a sentiment.

A chill hangs in the air of Cagliari this night.  In the hours of day, the storm held sway and kept out the sun and its loving warmth.   What little heat was produced is rapidly escaping in the clearing skies of the evening.     The cold bite of winter was in the air and the colors of its frosty sigil are cast upon the vanishing clouds as the sun sets.  It is the sort of night that evokes the joy of Christmas’ past.  Smells of smoke from the wood fire stove; warding off the cold.  Vapors of cinnamon and apples from the hot cider in the kitchen embrace the memory and entice recollection of that unique and greatest of joys;  Christmas vacation.  To me no more sacred or grand holiday exists.  The magic of the snowy landscape and the indescribable (as well as the blatant irony of writing such a thing) joy of release from the bondage of the education plant.  It is within the realm of possibility that a portion of my motivation to continue in school for so many years, despite my utter contempt for it, is that my love for Christmas vacation subconsciously kept me returning so as to enjoy its fruits regardless of the labors involved.


The dream continues on:  perhaps more lucid now than before.  The colors have become more vivid here as the southern progression has taken me from the emptied limbs of winter to lands whose trees still bear the autumnal low energy frequencies upon their foliage.  Admist the maelstrom there is peace.  The wild opposing emotions I carry seem to have lessened their weight.  It could be proposed that it is I, who in fact, has grown stronger and those feelings seem less the burden only by comparison. Perhaps I simply have become used to the onslaught of emotion and it has faded to the background of attention as does every beard once it gets passed the itchy stage.  I may never really know, but the optimist in me would like to think that the tumult has lessened because I am finally finding my way to something true and purposeful and that having some sense of direction has foiled the emotive’s power over me.

Chuang Chou , upon waking from a dream of being a butterfly, knew not whether he was a man dreaming of being a butterfly or now a butterfly dreaming of being a man.  The existential traditions love statements like this.  The stanzas of the Tao Te Ching and the Zen koans are rife with such apparent paradoxes.   The idea is to get the mind to release itself from the preconceived illusions of reality.  I have no spiritual master or guru with whom to engage in such debates but I think I have perhaps come to some sort of realization.  While Chang Chou believed there was a necessary distinction between butterfly and man which he refered to as the transformation of material things, I believe it is possible to be both the man and the butterfly.  The dream and the dreamer are both one in some sense.  For I am more torn, fragmented and lonely than ever before yet also feel more complete and whole and connected than any other time in my life.  The answer is that there is no answer.  Besides the butterfly does not concern itself with such matters.

In the last three days I have taken plane, train, automobile and boat.    I have seen the rural, the urban, the ancient and the modern.  I have felt the call to fight on for love and the sounding of the horn of reveille that pushes forward to the abandonment of such apparent fantasies.  I have seen the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked …. jk.  I have seen Miami Vice and Dragonball Z dubbed in Italian (They gave Piccolo a smooth tenor voice instead of the American dubbed gravel).  I have seen The Last Jedi in the grand theater of Barcelona and just like everything else I don’t know how I feel about it.  I mean the Snoke thing?!?!?! come on.  Mark Hamel said in a promotional interview that he was glad to make movies that offer people escape from the darkness of a world gone mad.  Alas, my experience with that film proved to be only a microcosm of my life;  So much good and so much bad and so much left, perhaps forever, unresolved.

Speaking of Star Wars, flying is always a test of my ability to withstand the allure of the dark side.  I apologize for the rant that is to come, however for the sake of expression pursuant to sublimation and self actualization, I must digress.   Throughout history,  scientific achievements have brought not only advancement and betterment of society but also dangerous and horrific, if unintentional,  consequences.  For all the benefits of the modern airplane and its bringing the world together, it carries a terrible price.  There is perhaps no more perfect display of the evil and avarice of humanity than the exiting of a commercial airplane.  The shear magnitude of the time it takes for so many people to simply grab a bag and go is often cited by some of the more nihilistic philosophers as reason to institute a purge.  How is it that something so simple and straight forward becomes an operatic masterpiece of the ineffectual?    I suspect these are the same “people” who think it’s okay to sit in the left lane of the freeway with the cruise control set to 67 because it’s the *fast* lane and going more than two mph over the speed limit is not only dangerous but could rouse the attention of a policeman and force a needless exchange leading to the receipt of a ticket.  What is worse is that many of the most grievous offenders of this truly heinous and nigh unforgivable crime have been breeding and in doing so created another generation of mouth breathing, texting while driving, insistent on killing of the zoo coyote after their kid stuck a finger in the cage and was bitten, blame anyone else, devoid of responsibility, stupid gosh darn…..needless to say I’ll be taking the train from Italy 🙂  Oooh I could go through Salzburg.  With any luck I’ll adorn myself in pantaloons, a puffy shirt and wig and prance around the Hapsburg court to harpsichord music while giggling away the dawn in my best high pitched German accent saying things like “Schneider Warum hast du Schmetterlinge auf deiner Hose? ahhahahahahaha”.

Luckily a good portion of today was spent upon the highway in my sporty Fiat Panda.  I can’t even begin to relate my excitement of the coming steamy beach photo shoot I have planned for that war machine of a car.    So now, upon the southern shores of Sicily, the time to rest has come after the blitz across the Mediterranean.   I slumber beneath the great lighthouse of Portopalo Di Cappo Passero.  Ever turning through the darkness, the tower of stone and its crystal crown guide the weary sailor through the night.  In visions of time travel the same light that sits atop Cape Blanco turns in my mind here and now.  Onward to the dream and the waking and to whatever comes next.

It rained quite hard here today.  Thus we have the following, followed by the original and far better version.  I also think it’s fitting for the silliness above.  Ciao!


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