I’ve had this little notebook for about 15 years. In it, I collect quotes from books I read. There’s a mix of travel, Buddhism, and life nuggets of wisdom in it, and I enjoy reading it from time to time.

I thought today I would share some of my favorite travel bits and bobs.

Sark

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If you see the cover of a book written by Sark, you’ll immediately recognize it, with its whimsical markered font. I got into her inspirational books in the ’90s (so long ago!), and this quote, I think, can apply to everything, but I like it for travel in particular:

Be still and let the beauty come.

When I travel, I tend to rush from one activity to another, so I need the reminder to slow down.

Mary Morris


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It’s been a while since I read Nothing to Declare, but it’s time to revisit it, since it’s about a woman traveling alone, and I’ve got some of that in my future. I love her imagery here:

Women remember. Our bodies remember. Every part of us remembers everything that has ever happened. Every touch, every feel, everything is there in our skin, ready to be awakened, revived. I swam in the sea. Salt water cradled me, washing over all I had ever felt. I swam without fear in the line of moonlight radiating on the surface of the sea. The water entered me and I could not tell where my body stopped and the sea began. My body was gone, but all the remembering was there.

Frances Mayes

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Mayes needs no introduction from me. Since her books were written, she’s continued to keep us updated on her dreamy life in Italy. What she says here, in Bella Tuscany, is exactly how I feel about travel.

Setting off to see another country, I set off to see what is more grandly other—whole cultures, geographies, languages. Who am I in the new place? And who are they who live there?

If you settle in, even for two weeks, live in a house not a hotel, and you buy figs and soap at the local places, sit in cafes and restaurants, go to a local concert or church service, you cannot help but open to the resonance of a place and the deeper you go, the stranger the people become because they’re like you and they’re not…I always think of what Gerard Manley Hopkins advised: look long enough at an object until it begins to look back at you. It can be dangerous to travel. A strong reflecting light is cast back on ‘real life,’ sometimes a disquieting experience. Sometimes you go to the far interior and who knows what you might find there?

Bill Holm

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I’m not sure if I read Coming Home Crazy, or if Holm was quoted elsewhere, but what he says here about Americans and language really resonates, especially because I’m learning Italian.

Americans have never understood either the passion to learn or the usefulness of other languages. We teach them badly to each other and don’t feel much guilt over it. We think foreigners will understand us if we just speak a little louder…Americans are used to being powerful people, in control, feared and humored, if not respected or loved. We abhor dependence, the appearance of weakness or need. When you begin learning a language or try to use a new one, your adult power and resorcefulness slip away, and you sound to yourself, and to others, like a drooling child or an idiot. In a new language, you are first a baby, then a little child; then, if you work hard, a badly educated teenager with a low IQ. If you start to learn a foreign language as an adult, you will probably never really become an adult in that language unless you are both tenacious and clever.