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We are infinite. October 1, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”

—John Muir

Think about this quiet statement the next time you need to boost your spirits. The great naturalist is telling us that we don’t actually have to go to the beautiful places he saw with his own eyes to experience them. Instead, we can go there in our minds. Everyone who’s lost themselves in a book or movie knows that this is true, because when we lose ourselves, we can time-travel, whether it’s back to Jane Austen’s day or forward to the world of Star Trek. When we lose ourselves, we are infinite.

I was reminded of this last weekend when I went to a tribute lunch for a wonderful character and good friend. My partner Rob and I were seated across from a couple who’d been privileged to live all over the world in the course of their careers, and they were telling us many stories of their experiences abroad, and the many holidays they’d shared in Rome, Colombia, Nambia, and etc. with their friends. Rob’s father, now 93, is embarking today on a 73-day cruise of the Pacific, revisiting many places where he’d worked abroad in the course of his international career. Rob himself was enthusiastically telling tales of the many cruises he’d taken to and from Hawai’i as a child en route to his father’s postings at Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

A couple of months ago, a good Reiki friend had been telling me about how she and her boyfriend were going on a Caribbean cruise this fall. She and her husband (now sadly deceased) had also gone all over the world, and even lived in Hawai’i a couple of times. After his untimely death, she determined to keep going abroad, traveling with family and friends to Italy, Poland, and the like.

It seems like everyone I know, including members of my own family, are constantly traveling, while I sit here imagining what it would be like to eat Indian street food or experiencing Usui Founder’s Japan or spending a month in Tuscany or Normandy or Greece or Provence. Or just being on the ocean, sitting on the deck and looking out into infinity. But I know it will never happen unless I win the lottery. I’ll never even make it to Hawai’i, much less abroad. It’s beyond our budget to take a train trip across Canada, a weeklong trip to the Southwest, a tasting tour of the Great Lakes or the Napa Valley, a trip to Key West, even my dream of a Christmas at Colonial Williamsburg. A cruise is out of the question. A meal at Ottolenghi’s in London? A pipe dream.

But I do have a good imagination. I love to cook, and I love to read. To read a Baedeker Handbook to the Paris of the 1890s, a Collected Traveler’s Guide to Paris (excerpts from famous writers and other people and their experiences in Paris), accounts of the Rabelaisian meals of Balzac and his fellow writers and artists, and cooking advice from the great Escoffier, helps me place myself there. Reading Julia Child and seeing the wonderful scenes of Julia in France in the movie “Julie and Julia” shows me another face of Paris, as does reading about our Founding Fathers (Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Gouverneur Morris) and their adventures in pre- and post-revolutionary France. (Jefferson, America’s first real gourmet, brought back a love of good wine, cheese, and pasta from Paris, along with a pasta machine. One of his favorite dishes was macaroni and cheese.)

Thank goodness we live in an age when beautiful nature scenes are available on the back pages of calendars, and, of course, online. We don’t have to go to the Rockies or Alaska when the wildflower meadows are in bloom, or to the fjords or the Alps or the Aegean, to see breathtaking photos of them. We can see fabulous images of archaeological digs from Israel to Macedonia to England to the Maya jungle as each new treasure comes to light. We don’t have to be on the ground digging as the body of Richard III or the potential tomb of King Philip of Macedon or even his son, Alexander the Great, is discovered at last.

Point being, nobody needs to feel confined by budget, family obligations, a heavy workload, physical disability, age, illness, or any other reason from achieving their dreams. Yotam Ottolenghi may never make a meal for me, but I have two of his inexpressibly beautiful cookbooks and can look at them whenever I like. You may never find yourself treating your family to a ski and spa week in Aspen or at the Grand Hotel Pupp in the Alps, but you may have a ski resort and spa in your area as we do. You may not be able to afford to sign up for a tour of Mount Kurama in Japan, or you may not have the physical stamina to climb the mountain, where our Founder was enlightened after a 21-day fast.

But whatever the case, you can go there in your mind. You can smell the food, taste the food, cook the food. You can smell the air, see the view, pick up (virtual) seashells. You can picture the terrain and culture as it was seen by people who went there decades or centuries before you or as it’s being seen by those who are going there now. You can travel virtually with Anthony Bourdain and Michael Palin (whose “Himalaya” series is one of my favorites).

Don’t think about what limits you. Think about what makes you infinite. What and where are you in your imagination?

Just for today, be infinite.