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The Only True Voyage

--by James P. Carse (Jun 29, 2009)


A garden is a place where growth is found. It has its own source of change. One does not bring change to a garden, but comes to a garden prepared for change, and therefore prepared to change. It is possible to deal with growth only out of growth. True parents do not see to it that their children grow in a particular way, according to a preferred pattern or scripted stages, but they see to it that they grow with their children. The character of one’s parenting, it if is genuinely dramatic, must be constantly altered from within as the children change from within. So, too, with teaching, or working with, or loving each other.

It is in the garden that we discover what travel truly is. We do not journey to a garden but by way of it.

Genuine travel has no destination. Travelers do not go somewhere, but constantly discover that they are somewhere else. Since gardening is a way not of subduing the indifference of nature but of raising one’s own spontaneity to respond to the disregarding vagaries and unpredictabilities of nature. We do not look on nature as a sequence of changing scenes but look on ourselves as persons in passage.

Nature does not change; it has no inside or outside. It is therefore not possible to travel through it. All travel is therefore change within the traveler, and it is for that reason that travelers are always somewhere else. To travel is to grow.

Genuine travelers travel not to overcome distance but to discover distance. It is not distance that makes travel necessary, but travel that makes distance possible. Distance is not determined by the measurable length between objects, but by the actual difference between them. The motels around the airports in Chicago and Atlanta are so little different from the motels around the airports of Tokyo and Frankfurt that all the essential distances dissolve in likeness. What is truly separated is distinct; it is unlike. ‘The only true voyage would be not to travel through a hundred different lands with the same pair of eyes, but to see the same land through a hundred different pairs of eyes.” (Proust)

[…]

So, too, with those who look everywhere for difference, who see the earth as source, who celebrate the genius in others, who are not prepared against but for surprise. “I have traveled far in Concord.” (Thoreau)

-- James P. Carse, from "Finite and Infinite Games"


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On Jul 7, 2009 ahmedhafid wrote:

I am honestly not quite sure; I have to read again and again. Although the passage reminded me of  a feeling I have had for a very long time and one that the hustle that is life and I myself have suppressed for fairly some time...a feeling of just dropping everything right here, right now and with the clothes on my back just leave and go anywhere, with no particular direction, to be carried away by the moment of the travel, Just like a child is carried away by say a line of safari ants when for instance they are going to school, in this trance the child looses any sense of time and space...Well I guess the actual travel or safari is there to help us take a journey inside ourselves.      See full.

I am honestly not quite sure; I have to read again and again. Although the passage reminded me of  a feeling I have had for a very long time and one that the hustle that is life and I myself have suppressed for fairly some time...a feeling of just dropping everything right here, right now and with the clothes on my back just leave and go anywhere, with no particular direction, to be carried away by the moment of the travel, Just like a child is carried away by say a line of safari ants when for instance they are going to school, in this trance the child looses any sense of time and space...Well I guess the actual travel or safari is there to help us take a journey inside ourselves.

 

 

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On Jul 4, 2009 satish kaul wrote:

It brings me close to me !



On Jun 29, 2009 iJourney Content Editor wrote:

Great passage. Brought to mind three quotes. The first is about the fluid nature of journeys, as a metaphor for a way of be-ing and living: "Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." -- John Steinbeck The second relates to a subtle point Carse brings up regarding not overcoming distance, but rather discovering it. It reminds me of an interesting point I came across: Distance is meant to relate, not separate. --Satish Kumar  It is ultimately our uniqueness that allows us to uni-versally relate. And lastly, a quote I actually ran across in a plane: The real vo  See full.

Great passage. Brought to mind three quotes. The first is about the fluid nature of journeys, as a metaphor for a way of be-ing and living:

  • "Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." -- John Steinbeck

The second relates to a subtle point Carse brings up regarding not overcoming distance, but rather discovering it. It reminds me of an interesting point I came across:

  • Distance is meant to relate, not separate. --Satish Kumar 

It is ultimately our uniqueness that allows us to uni-versally relate. And lastly, a quote I actually ran across in a plane:

  • The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. -- Marcel Proust

And I guess to have new eyes is to continue to awake anew not just to the observed, but also to the observer!

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On Jun 29, 2009 Liz, iJourney Audio Editor wrote:

Throughout this passage I kept thinking about the transformation my children make when they are away at camp each summer.  They grow and change from new experiences, new relationships and adventure.  They get to travel out of their fears into bravery and learning how to depend on others to get their needs met.  During this time, I keep tilling my own garden within, as I prepare to ‘meet my children where they are’ when they return, meet them at the new place where they have ‘traveled to’ within.  I so look forward to reuniting with them with wonder, awe and surprise of who they will be.



On Jun 29, 2009 Prasad, iJourney Visual Editor wrote:

 I had to read the passage many times before I became comfortable that I understood the message. Then, I put it aside to reflect and now, when I read it again, I wonder whether what I understood before is accurate any more. This is not the first time, I had difficulty understanding what is written or what is said. There is a time I listened to a commentary of 5 verses about 200 times for over 2 years. Every time I listened, I saw different things. I paid attention to some other element that I missed completely in the previous listening. When I mentioned that to my spouse, she said playfully that it applies to our relationship as well. We are married for over 26 years and I still discover something new regularly about my wife and about our relationship. It is not that the commentary, or the original text, or the message, or the person has changed. It is I who seem to be changing continuously. It is like the statement of Heraclites 3000 years ago — you can never step into th  See full.

 I had to read the passage many times before I became comfortable that I understood the message. Then, I put it aside to reflect and now, when I read it again, I wonder whether what I understood before is accurate any more.
This is not the first time, I had difficulty understanding what is written or what is said. There is a time I listened to a commentary of 5 verses about 200 times for over 2 years. Every time I listened, I saw different things. I paid attention to some other element that I missed completely in the previous listening. When I mentioned that to my spouse, she said playfully that it applies to our relationship as well. We are married for over 26 years and I still discover something new regularly about my wife and about our relationship.
It is not that the commentary, or the original text, or the message, or the person has changed. It is I who seem to be changing continuously. It is like the statement of Heraclites 3000 years ago — you can never step into the same river twice. You can never live the same experience twice.
When I read the passage again, freshly, I realized that the journey or the voyage has not much to do with either distance or the travel. It has to do with openness, preparedness, beginner’s mind as Suzuki says.
Without that openness, beginner’s mind, I can go around the world and still be stuck in the same rut. Wherever I go I get into same trouble. Whatever I am trying to avoid in one relationship shows up in every other relationship till I am ready to face myself and learn what I need to learn.
Have you seen the movie Ground Hog Day? It is like that. I feel that in many areas of my life I am on autopilot — lights are on and nobody home. My body might travel thousands of miles every month — between India and US but my mind can stay stuck in the same belief system, same attitude and see no progress.
So I read the passage again. I see hope. Can I really be in the garden and focus on the garden, flowers, smells, beauty and timelessness? Can I take the focus off of me and on the beauty around me? Can I just be with the flower that is opening minute by minute, observe the butterflies make gentle, fragile and element patterns from one flower to another and lose myself?

Whenever it happens, the inner journey stops for me. I am no longer searching, finding anxiously, excitedly and frustrated that I have not found the ultimate answer. I stand still, quiet down and be with whatever I am with and forget everything including myself. I don’t necessarily grow by traditional definition but something develops inside me that allows me to let go one more belief that keeps me stuck.

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