This is my final entry on the Florida trip (unless something else crops up in my brain). Let’s go back to the start of the trip – that moment when I stepped onto that Boeing 757 and took my place like an obedient little sardine for the flight down.
As the song goes, I can’t stand to fly. I don’t like it, not one little bit. But I realized long ago that there was something I liked even less – the notion that my life’s experiences would be diminished; that I would be held back; over some intractable fear that millions of others have either dealt with, or never suffered from in the first place. “So,” the irrational voice inside my head responds, “what if the plane crashes, huh? Talk about diminishing your life’s experiences!” Okay, I’ll give that voice a toehold on that point, if only for a moment. But the equation then comes down to this: If I get on that plane, yeah, we might crash, in spite of all the statistics about how safe air travel is. But if I don’t get on that plane, now or ever, then that tiny chance of crashing is replaced by a 100% certainty. It’s the certainty that there are so many things I’ll never do; so many places I’ll never see. That’s a very sad thought. It’s an awful, self-cheating deal with an inner devil. So I got on that plane, just as I got on a much bigger plane eight years ago for my trip to Greece. Just as I hope to get on planes to London, Russia, Paris, and who knows where else. I also offer these words as encouragement to anyone who feels that same fear of flying. I want you to know that I’ve fought the fight. You might say that I’ve emerged from it as a winning loser, because I haven’t stopped fearing it. Maybe I never will stop fearing it. But it’s going to take more than that to stop me from getting on the next plane. Like being broke, for example. OK, that could stop me.
Writing about this trip has made me think a lot about what I’m trying to accomplish in this journal. I’ve written on this topic before, but I think some things have come into clearer focus of late.
Speaking of focus, let’s start with photography. I took (for me) a lot of pictures on this trip. I noticed after a time that there were certain things I was looking for in a shot. The process had been somewhat subconscious before then, but noticing it actually helped me to find and compose shots. The general statement would go something like this: I’m looking for photos that illustrate my emotions, my thoughts, and my experiences. I’m rarely looking for shots that are purely abstract and divorced from what I’m experiencing at that moment. For example, I’m not usually one to take a close-up photograph of a pebble-strewn beach just because they make a pretty pattern. I may appreciate that pattern, but if I photograph it, I want to include the context of its surroundings, at least a bit, so the viewer will better understand my perspective at that moment. That’s not to say that I won’t utilize a zoom lens or judicious cropping post-production, but it will almost always be in the service of illustrating my narrative or recreating a moment that I felt.
*Sigh* I’ve re-read that paragraph and it’s so incomplete… but it’s the best I can do for now. I hope it made some sense!
As for my writing in this journal, I find that it is an erratic combination of thoughts and emotions. Those are two different things, thinking and feeling, though they overlap considerably most of the time. With regard to the Florida trip, I think I’m trying to do two things here: 1) I’m trying to savor the bouquet of this lovely vacation and set it in my memory; and 2) It may be none of my business what any of you do with your lives, but I want all of you to visit beautiful lands; see them, feel them, smell them, taste them – pick your favorite sense and indulge it in the beauty of a new place, and in so doing move into a larger world. This is my way of offering encouragement to make it happen during our short lives.
It may seem that we did a lot on this trip – in 5 full days, we attended 2 baseball games and visited 3 major amusement parks. On top of that, we ate a lot of good food. Oh yes we did! But I have to say that I never felt rushed. I’m not one of those people who has to pack every vacation moment with action, action, action! Seems too much like work if you ask me. This trip was just about perfect in that regard. Oh, I was plenty tired those first few nights, after spending over 12 hours at Epcot on day 1 and about 8 hours at Universal Studios on day 2. But I wasn’t tired from work; I was tired from play, and that’s the best kind of tired there is!
I mentioned food a moment ago – yes, there were some special dining experiences there, from Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville to a wonderful Cuban place, the name of which escapes me. We dined al fresco there, and as I gazed out at the nearby line of tall palm trees, I must admit I had a sudden “pinch me” moment as I thought about the weather back in Chicago at that very moment. But all of these restaurants were utterly eclipsed by the one I have displayed below.
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop. A stellar dining experience. My well of words runs dry now – I do not have the words to even hint at the wonderfulness of the place. I offer the following photos of my dinner and dessert without comment, so I hope you’ll get my drift.
So on the metaphoric plate of this vacation, we enjoyed a multi-course banquet of delicacies. We had travel, warm sunny weather in February, a brand-new convertible, roller coasters, animals, water, flowers, pretty people, good food, good conversation, and a comfortable mattress at the end of each day. And as a cherry on the top, we had spring training baseball. Could I have asked for more? Not without feeling mighty greedy!