Western Tour Evokes Frontier Spirit

I had been looking forward to seeing snow throughout our latest road trip. In our morning departure from Jackson, Wyoming, I finally got my wish. It started innocently enough as I gazed with childish wonder at a thin layer of white crystals landing on vehicles outside our motel window. By the end of the day, road conditions on our selected route southeast to and from the town of Casper would deteriorate into blizzard conditions, combining blinding “white outs”, fierce crosswinds, and dangerously iced over road surfaces.

Keep in mind, I live in South Florida and have had little experience actually driving in snow. Clearly, I was searching for answers to maintain my composure as I left Casper in such stressful, weather conditions. Then suddenly I observed that the traffic lanes ahead were turning to an icy sheen, requiring me to slow my vehicle to less than 40 mph. As my car now began to shimmy sideways in the approaching slickness, I recall thinking about Oregon Trail survival in my head. Imagining myself as a mid 19th century frontiersman, I saw myself becoming  a wagon driver, steering my prairie schooner, through  a similar crisis of weather in that time period. My main thoughts at this critical time  would be “hold the reins tight”, “keep the horses/oxen calm”, and “maintain a steady course”. As a result of this timely dream, I began to focus more clearly on driving safely through the ice and ultimately succeeded without mishap.My wife in the passenger seat would subsequently praise me in the aftermath of this weather crisis as her own personal ox.

What might best explain my fortunate return to the past this day? I am a former, American History teacher who is clearly interested in America’s westward expansion in the mid 19th century. In fact, our road trip route through Idaho, Wyoming, and Nebraska had offered me a chance to exit the Interstate highways to explore famous landmarks and museum showcases adjacent to the Snake and North Platte Rivers that provided authentic evidence of this trail-blazing era.

Thus, as the western leg of our road trip would end that day, I would assume a pioneer mentality. with my mind consumed with thoughts of exploring wagon ruts, and museum relics of this era. In this regard,  I had chosen to take a longer route to our motel destination in Casper, requiring me to walk in blustery frigid weather to reach carved signatures on the famous Independence Rock. In addition, I had delayed our early departure from Casper in early morning, which would have allowed me to escape the brunt of the inclement weather in order to further satisfy my trail curiosities at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center.

Leaving the the American West today brings sadness as I reluctantly exchange the serenity of wide open, rural spaces with the stress of my routine-driven, city lifestyle. I can now clearly understand that there are numerous, survival challenges in these often inhospitable lands. Yet It suits me well to feel truly free to be a personal witness of the authentic, western experience. The ox image that I have acquired will inspire a return west again next year to shed my yoke along the untraveled road.

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Allure Of The Snake River Corridor

As my wife and I now begin the turn east from southern Oregon, our intended route would be influenced by visits to family/friends now. Crossing the arid plateau east of the Cascade Mountains, we would spend three nights reuniting with our old, South Florida neighbor, Tina, in Boise, Idaho. Enjoying relaxation time in the simple comforts of her home combined with playful attention to her loyal, Labrador Retriever, Molly, it had become apparent that homesickness had surfaced after two and one half months on the road. Unmotivated to sightsee in Boise on this quiet visit, we could have stayed longer in Boise for sure. The “downtime” here, however seemed to regenerate our enthusiasm to move on eastward to complete our long journey back to South Florida.

Choosing the high, arid plateau along the I-84 corridor across Southern Idaho now, we became acutely aware of magnificent valley ravines/river gorges cut deeply by the winding Snake River alongside our highway path. Stopping at Massacre Rock State Park for a two mile walk in cold and blustery weather conditions, we discovered an interesting path along the historic Oregon Trail to view wagon ruts and boulder inscriptions of westbound settlers from the mid -19th century homestead period.

More practically, this meandering river would lead our way to the rugged highlands of Grand Teton/Yellowstone National Park. Taking a shorter but steeper route over the snowy Teton pass, we would rejoin the Snake again at popular, Jackson, Wyoming. We would be fortunate to find a reasonably cost motel at the Antler Inn downtown before the summer rush of tourist arrival. We would also find the springtime weather suitable for two, full days of mountain country viewing.

On a quiet, Sunday morning, we would begin our latest tour with a short drive along the Snake River highway path to reach Grand Teton National Park. Sidetracking at the Moose Visitor Center for an obligatory ranger orientation, we were told that taking our intended walking path near Jenny Lake would be risky due to lingering snow and muddy conditions. We needed a practical Plan B option. With these steep mountains being cloudlessly viewable today, we thus opted to enjoy these nearby panoramas by driving leisurely the forty two mile loop road to traverse the entire National Park. How exciting it seemed to understand that the stark beauty of        these faulted mountains and associated glacier formations had resulted from volcanic forces shifting the earth’s plates upwards and sideways over eons of time.

Yellowstone National Park marks the origin of the Snake River and would again serve as our main guideway as we made a brief visit to America’s first National Park the next day. Realizing that hordes of tourists would head directly to Old Faithful area, we selected the less visited West Thumb geyser and Yellowstone Lake regions as our primary destination today. Picture an inviting combination of pristine forestland serenity, spectacular lakeside vistas with a sprinkling of entertaining birdlife/wildlife. Undoubtedly, both of us had become mesmerized by the natural amenities here. Fittingly, we have decided to apply for part time work as a retired couple in this Yellowstone Lake region within the next two years.

The more that I experience the wildness of the American West, the more sensitive I become to the paradox of natural beauty and physical hardship experienced in traversing these spacious lands. Around each rising mountain pass or below each river canyon lies a myriad of curious wonders yet so much of these locations appear inaccessible to human contact. Nature thus has spoken loudly to us. Our natural ecosystems are here for us to enjoy yet human encroachment should not be allowed to wreck them.

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Klamath Falls: Solitude&Splender

After spending six weeks along the populated, California coastline, traveling north through remote areas of California would come as a welcome break from civilization. Following an uneventful path through prairie-like environs of the Central Valley, my wife and I ascended on Highway I-5 to the stunning beauty of the Cascade Highlands. With its immense, conical peak of snowy glitter interspersed with steep bluffs and canyons, Mount Shasta would dominate our visual attention for hundreds of miles throughout this Northern California leg of our adventure. Crossing into Southern Oregon in mid afternoon, we felt confident that spending three days at our next destination, Klamath Falls, would provide ample time for us to to experience additional, natural scenery for the next two days.

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Klamath Falls may best be described as an an isolated, western town that takes great interest in its nearby environmental amenities. Thus its location in close proximity to important, national landmarks/parks seemed to offer us a major “plus” for staying there. Specifically, Klamath would provide an ideal place for us to start a new week by exploring watershed areas of national birding interest, driving along an ancient, volcano crater and descend into the mysteriousness of volcanic, underground caves.

On a cloudless Monday morning, we set out south from town to take in a spectacular view of Mount Shasta in the distance. Beyond the California border, we looked forward to bird watching at the Klamath National Wildlife Refuge as our first activity today. After conducting a a brief talk with the ranger at the National Bird Refuge Center, we selected two places where avian sightings would be most likely found today: Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Preserve. Traveling slowly along well-paved auto routes at both of these vast, watery sloughs, we frequently stopped to take photographs of several  species: delicate, white pelicans, noisy, Canadian geese, black camouflaged ducks, and dive-bombing swallows… On several of these occasions, feeding deer, curious prairie dogs, and a farm-enclosed llama also caught our attention.

In stark contrast to the prolific, animal presence in the Klamath Preserve, our auto tour continued into the lifeless environment of jagged, volcanic rocks at the Lava Beds National Monument. Eerily silent for eons, the conspicuous piles of  heat-blackened rocks everywhere would seem impossible to explore on our own today. Yet underground, a massive system of seventy+ lave tubes would attract our interest as a spelunking activity this afternoon.

Picture descending steep steps with a bulky lantern into an unknown labyrinth of dark and moist caverns that requires frequent bending and stooping along the way and you would have had a fairly accurate account of our hiking challenge today at Golden Dome and Sunshine Caves. Yet stunning, natural formations to photograph along the walls of each cave along with the exhilarating newness of this activity would well justify the physical effort expended today.

I can honestly say I missed the inner serenity of waves and sea life induced by the enticing, Pacific Ocean shoreline as we traveled inland. Although we did not have time to visit our third destination, Crater Lake on this visit, Klamath Falls, however, provided another form of positive energy for us. For during our visits to protected wetlands and volcanic caves, I sensed the continuing need for preserving America’s natural environment for future generations to appreciate. No doubt this realization is a useful, reality check for now me now, as I have found a new motivation to volunteer my time in retirement.

Light on My Feet In San Francisco


I woke up on our latest road trip destination (Concord California), today feeling confident that my body would be up for a nice, long walk today. For today was my wife’s birthday and we were planning to visit a dear friend in S.F. downtown. On the previous evening, I sensed a good omen for our Bay Area visit. The Indian manager of our motel offered us a surprising gift-a bottle of decent red wine-after we shared the details of our recent tour of India with him. He even offered to drive us to the nearest BART station the next morning.

For all the negativity you hear about the public transportation quality in this country, BART  should be the exception. From our outlying suburban location , we rode efficiently to the Civic Center Station in less than 45 minutes and started our long to walk to visit our friend. We knew he was “under the weather” so it was decided to make our visit short yet full of positivity to cheer him up. I felt doubly happy that my wife would successfully share a much needed conversation with him and we would be taking an interesting hike up and down steep hills in S.F. downtown at the same time.

After this brief stop, we decided to “play tourist” and saunter downhill to S.F. Bay for a birthday lunch and waterfront sightseeing. I seemed to lose sight of time and distance then as we wracked up the miles toward our new destination. After a brief stop at Ghirardelli Square for a sugar rush of the famous chocolate, we searched for the perfect birthday lunch, traveling on the shoreline toward the famous Fisherman’s Wharf.

Now the interesting times really began as we selected a historic pub called “The Buena Vista” and enjoyed a cup of their famous Irish coffee accompanied by a sour dough, clam chowder bowl. Never being known as a social eater, I seemed to revel in the conversation about politics, marijuana, and baseball, with strangers sitting at our table. Maybe it was the whiskey.

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Across the turbulent waters of the bay, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge loomed as the most sought of photo attractions today. The best place to see both seemed along Pier 39, which jutted conveniently into the bay. Always popular for their colony of barking seals, we weaved our way amidst the curious throngs to find the best vantage point for our snapshots.

Rush hour in San Francisco on a Friday late afternoon now brought us in full force with the local commuter scene. Yet it somehow seemed fun relinquish the responsibility of a car to stand in a streetcar crowded with friendly people to return to reach our return BART destination with little pressure of deadlines that day.

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Six miles walking counts for a good day of exertion for this day. The body and mind seem to cooperate more for me when I am not trying hard to have fun than when I am consciously looking at revelry as a planned routine to follow. Not a single thought popped in mind about our tragic Presidency. Perhaps my physical challenges today enabled me to find a personal protest strategy to cope with the uncertain future.

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Time To Reassess “Cool” Santa Cruz

Welcome to Santa Cruz, California and its legacy as a “laid back” community. Like a Beach Boys surfer song combined with a youthful plea for leftist progressivism, Santa Cruz clings to the “peace and love” spirit of the late 1960s. Having continued a long-lasting friendships with ex-teachers John and Bobbie, there, my wife and I have often prioritized to visit them for a few days in Santa Cruz as we are traveling north toward nearby San Francisco. Saving money and time on our our present visit, Bobbie graciously offered us a place to sleep in her small but tidy guesthouse, while John accompanied us on an interesting walk around the town harbor.

Taking time to walk on our own around beachside Santa Cruz and nearby Capitola would be our favored choice on our present visit as we always looked forward to these unobstructed vistas of endless, natural beauty. How lucky must coastline residents be to look out the window of their Victorian home surrounded by exquisite landscaping to view the wild beauty of the vast Pacific. What a thrill to spot a sea creature rising in blackened silence from the distant bay and imagine a fish that might be as big as a whale. How awesome might one feel to relax one’s mind from life’s problems by surfing the edges of a restless wave on their favorite beach today.

If we wanted to play traditional tourist tomorrow on this three day visit, there was much to choose from at various levels of activity We might decide to passively stroll the classic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on the beach to collect seashells, more actively explore the redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains above the town, or even take a leisurely drive south to Monterey Bay for photo shots of the marine sanctuary there. Instead, we opted for something new and spent the morning hiking at Ano Nuevo State Preserve, north of town. At end of this three mile walk to the seashore , we were rewarded with closeup views of  sea lion colonies sunning happily there.

For cause activists, Santa Cruz typically feels “liberal” in thought. With nearby University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) remaining as a living remnant of the 1960s era of social and environmental activism, college town idealism remains strong in this community. As our nation’s feud with North Korea heightens politically, it felt right in this moment that Santa Cruz remains an officially “nuclear-free city on thus visit. As President Trump’s policies escalate to oppose affordable health care and gay/women’s rights across our country, we could admire the city’s continued progressive stands to hold active vigils and rally protests in opposition to his repressive policies. As climate change threatens to radically alter our normal weather patterns, we breathed in the consistently cool and clear air there with renewed vigor.

IMG_7082There remains an “uncool” side to Santa Cruz, however. As we made our way my through the outskirts of town, it is apparent that the town character has noticeably changed. The combination of explosive tourism growth, increased boat dock usage, and rapid urban gentrification in “Greater Santa Cruz”  cannot be missed. During morning and afternoon rush hours, for instance, gridlock traffic along main thoroughfares, combined with dangerous on-street parking on side streets makes driving unpredictably stressful. In addition, while searching for a walkable place to window shop in “nickel and dime” like fashion, we notice instead the intrusion of mega-retail outlets like Costco, Home Depot, and Target.

Lastly, Santa Cruz noticeably suffers from a serious housing crisis these days. With an average cost of owning a home there at $640,000 dollars and rising , Santa Cruz has become one of the least affordable places to live in the country. Combining this fact with a high, homeless population, and a lack of affordable, multistory housing, I wonder how much longer the city can profess to be a place that promotes itself as committed to “social change and human dignity.”

IMG_0104After spending one month in serene Morro Bay, perhaps any negative judgments of Santa Cruz realities seem unnecessarily given. It is not my intention as a casual tourist to reacquaint myself with the complex and hectic lifestyle of the urban commuter at this point in my life. Being “cool” now no longer resonates as an action-packed itinerary for sure. These days, I would be content to merely appreciate the natural beauty of each Santa Cruz panorama and relax from daily stresses in continuing pursuit of inner peace and long-lasting friendships. Simple times thus makes happy retirement.

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Inner Morro Bay Resonates Now

Why do we choose to return to places in our travels? Beyond the scripted allure of advertised destinations, what moves us “inside” to settle into an annual place of pilgrimage? Having recently toured India as my spiritual curiosities of Hinduism grew, I realized that the answer to these questions reside heavily in the heart as we contemplate answers to our own life’s longings. Why have my wife and I, then, booked a one month stay on this oceanfront, Central California community for 3-4 of our recent road trips west in spring time?

I must firstly consider how the  natural beauty of Morro Bay observed from our rental condo remains remarkably vivid for every time we visit. To the west, a towering, volcanic rock fills our beachfront view often over a foggy and overcast harbor. Witness the sights and sounds of Pacific Ocean sea birds and marine critters that fill the air there while in opposition, the human presence remains relatively silent. To the south and east, the coastal mountains creates a protective barrier from the busier, urban communities beyond. To the north lies the rocky crags/beach access points leading to the famous, cliffside stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway. Certainly then, an appreciation of nature can account for much of the deep-seated attraction we internalize about this beautiful setting.

In addition, the intimately informal atmosphere of the town itself, also stands out to please our emotional longings. Strolling along the downtown hub of Morro Bay Boulevard, we see evidence of a slower lifestyle than our norm back east that bodes well for more life satisfaction. Pop into the bead store and contemplate quietly in the rear of the store amidst its waterfall and exotic plant sanctuary. Sit on a local park bench to chat personably with the proprietor of a “mom and pop store.” Admire a procession of classic , American cars slowly cruise down-street to provide vivid reminders that driving once meant much more than a daily commute on a busy highway. See an affordable film at the one -screen old cinema house where your popcorn and Milk Duds snacks cost less than the movie. Perform a morning stretch at the nearby Morro Bay Yoga Center and quietly mediate the tranquility of the day ahead.

In the afternoons, each day, I make time to feed hungry seagulls near Morro Rock. A sizable flock of ravenous birds typically follows me as as I tightrope the rocky coastline to obtain suitable feeding sites. I have even trained some of the them to perform aerial theatrics to obtain their precious bread morsel. Imagining their freedom to fly at will now, my inner child” at these times returns. It seems fitting then the creative play of my childhood days has re-ignited to help me “lighten up” from my more serious adulthood.

We were thrilled to see David Crosby of “Crosby, Stills, and Nash” fame at Vino Robles Theater in nearby Paso Robles Amphitheater last night. As I have always been curious how he views the power of his music, I googled his interesting response. “Generally we don’t really consciously do it as a purpose-driven thing. … It’s really just a response to life.” Perhaps, this statement has given me insight as to our motives for choosing destinations for extended travel. It follows then that we can reason our choice to travel regularly to Morro Bay annually as a way to dissolve our ego-driven past of career driven, external gratification. The roads that ensue from one’s emotional callings clearly provides a key to understanding their chosen paths of travel.

Science Walk Stirs Global Spirit

The annual celebration of Earth Day held special meaning today as the community of San Luis Obispo in Central California stood up in protest against the callous disregard of science in Donald Trump’s Presidential agenda. This was no hippie love fest of rebellious youth in the vein of the 1960s. Serious interest among the mainstream populace of local residents interspersed with respected academicians and lab coated, practitioners from the sciences created an atmosphere of concern about the ominous fate of our planet today.

Yes, these were decent people demanding action today and they enthusiastically welcomed any intelligent explanations, costumed attire, or poster displays to justify their reasoning. A middle school science teacher expressing concern that funding cuts would jeopardize her science class curriculum. A religious call of atheists to question the unproven existence of life and death. A physics instructor admonishing politicians for showing ignorance of the basic tenets in his class curriculum. A community outreach effort pleading for new volunteers to save their precious watersheds and canyons.

Fundamental truths cannot be ignored by state/local politicians today. The Central California coast appears particularly vulnerable to climate change. As the sea levels rise from global warming, farmland and residential coastlines can become inundated with flooding catastrophes. With the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, air pollution will conceivably reach alarming levels. Extreme changes in global weather will likely trigger intense seismic activity along fault zones that lie on or near the mid-state coastline.

Walking amongst this “sea of protest” today, I realized a more immediate concern of this attack on science. Are we becoming a country that reduces our citizens capacity to read, question, and think thoroughly about the future of our planet? Are we dropping the “standard of truth” so low to allow the alternative facts and outright lies that have been consistently used to to defend our President’s actions? To embrace these global challenges, let us remember then the basic, thinking steps of the scientific method: Observe, question, hypothesize, experiment , and draw logical conclusions. Policy does not overrule science: science determines principled action.

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Glimpses of “Red Hat” India

Some random impressions of “emotions” provided by my recent tour of New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, India.

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1. Bask in the vivid contrast of color.

Feel the feminine beauty of a beautiful sari on a dust-clocked path. Feast your eyes on freshly ripened fruit in the crowded markets of Old Delhi. Marvel at the complexity of hue designs that cover elephant skin. Feel exhilaration at the first sighting of the endless New Delhi skyline as your plane emerges into polluted grayness below the clear stratosphere above.

2. Explore a variety of spiritual meanings from your India experience.

Rise before dawn and feel the mystical callings of the Islamic Muezzin’s call to prayer. Relax in quiet contemplation during the coolness of sunrise as your eyes feast on the first sighting of pale whiteness in the distant Taj Mahal. Accept the love of Hindu spirit from a smiling, Indian stranger as they place a sacred, red dot on your forehead for good fortune. Dare to cover your head, men, and feel respect for the Sikh religion today. Honor their tradition of wearing a turban.

3. Frequent traditional Indian restaurants/local food stands with caution.

Sample foods for excessive spice before you order. When the taste of your meal is in question. rice and bread can be easily substituted. Drink bottled water to avoid bacterial crisis in your stomach. Do not assume salads are healthy for you here. Eat cooked food only when possible.

4. Exhibit patience in matter of security.

Expect long queues at immigration clearance areas of airports. Have all your paperwork ready for agonizingly slow screening by custom officials. Do not expect tour guide will handle your security clearance into India. Avoid taking pictures in any customs area. Be ready to experience separate male and female security lines at major attractions.

5. Imagine you are a personal witness to the storied history of India’s colonial past.

Join an elephant caravan to the heights of Jaipur’s Amber Fort. Hire a Tuk-Tuk driver to arouse your curiosity as you customize your itinerary of forts and monuments. Be curious to understand the rules of cricket as you wonder why each game takes so long. Absorb your mind in the daily interactions of caste society on the streets beyond your hotel. Where would you place yourself in India’s caste society?

6. You must learn to emotionally cope with the incessant presence of souvenir hawkers.

Avoid buying out of pity. In tour-sanctioned shops, wander on your own to avoid high pressure sales. Many stores have extensive back inventory displays for better deals. Deeply contemplate your wants vs. needs when shopping. Be aware of stray animals and snakes used as emotional ploys for spending money. Consider silence as an effective price-bargaining tool.

Humbling Grandeur of High Sierras

“There is nothing that goes wrong with nature. Turn off your mind and float downstream.” George Harrison, 7/24/97 last public interview

Visiting the national parks in the United States has become a high priority for my wife and me in our recent road trip travels. Having spent extensive time in California on our previous car travels west, we had oddly missed visiting on several occasions the vast expanses of Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park. Thus, the decision to side-trip from our current base in Morro Bay, Calif. to Sequoia on the Monday after Easter would be a much anticipated event on our 2017 Spring vacation.

IMG_6693Certainly, today did not provide opportune weather to make the arduous trip east across Central California as foggy mist shrouded our view much of the way. Fortunately, the skies would clear as we neared the end of Central Valley leaving us with an awestruck vista of the Sierra Range immediately ahead. Exiting the low-lying plain beyond Visalia, we the began a gradual climb up the Kaweah River Canyon. Stopping at Slide Rock Recreation area, we made time for a brief look
at this tranquil confluence of mountain-fed waters . A few miles further, we would soon pass our sleep destination for tonight; a modest Comfort Inn lying within the rustic town of “Three Rivers”. We we were now within four miles of the southerly entrance to Sequoia National Park.

Anticipating that the weather would not be cooperative on Tuesday, we had earlier made the decision that our afternoon today would likely be the best time to visit the southerly portion of Sequoia. Fortunately, all roads in the park would be open now, traffic appeared light, and clear visibility of the surrounding mountains seemed likely. Gaining free access with our National Park Pass, we would begin our short tour at the Ash Mountain Entrance.

One mile in, we reached the Foothills Visitor Center. This would prove to be an ideal spot for us to picnic lunch and plan our afternoon ride to our main destinations today: towering “Moro Rock” and the secluded forest of the “Sequoia Tree Giants.” There were many factors to consider for sure in completing our goal today. Would we become irritated driving steeply uphill for over 6,000 feet on a narrowly twisting road? Would there be a need to chain up our tires as we reached the snow belt section? Would the seasonable weather hold up throughout the afternoon?

Ultimately deciding we were “up” for such challenges, our drive to the Sequoia Forest worked out well for us today. On this three hour ascent/descent today in non-freezing conditions, we would frequently stop at designated overlooks to gaze at spectacular vistas of secluded valleys below and majestic mountain peaks above. Our senses would be further enhanced in the increasingly thin-air altitudes by the appearance of giant boulder formations, brilliantly-colored,spring vegetation, and towering strands of ancient, Sequoia trees

What had been learned by the “now” experience of silent and undisturbed nature in the land of the tree giants? Life seems too short to waste on endless “monkey-mind” stress when you consider that human days on earth are few compared to these indestructible mammoths of nature. I would thus need to hug a tree today and return my gratitude for giving me such an important insight.

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Glimpses of “Green Hat” India

Some random impressions of “creative energy” provided by my recent tour of New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, India.

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1. The Namaste greeting in India can teach me to manage my non-verbal signals to others more intelligently. In crowded sitauations, the folded hands ritual can be used to greet several people at one time in a non- threatening way. I might modify the greeting toward either the heart or head of my body to provide a clue of the type of message I am intending.

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2. Animals clearly provide comfort to humans in every walk of Indian life. It is time for me to study animal behavior intelligently, not as a source a of egoistic entertainment. Spend get more time observing animal behavior in silence can help detach my mind from worry and stress to enhance my meditative powers in the present moment.

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3. Spiritual life in Hindu India seems to emanate from everyday encounters. The ability of the individual to choose their own spiritual icon also intrigues me. From my perspective, a baseball park, concert hall, or quiet beach now enters my world as self-enlightenment mediums at home.

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4. The unsanitary and unsightly presence of overpopulation in India deeply disturbs me. Such unchecked growth moves me to become active with grassroots organizations who seek a global solution to such threats to our earth’s survival. India’s human congestion problem is everyone’s problem.

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5. The legacy of Mahatma Gandhi remains strong in India. His leadership to inspire peaceful, Indian resistance to the oppressive policies of British colonialism provides some optimism that a new leader will similarly rise to nullify the despotic-minded actions of our President in America today.

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6. The caste system in India seems counterproductive to international peace in today’s times. To label people “untouchables”on the basis of a preordained social order perpetuates alienation and ignorance at the lower ends of the social spectrum. The likelihood of joining a fanatical, terrorist group increases in such times of desperate hopelessness.

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