Monday, March 7, 2011

What Is Your Definition?

“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children, who has filled his niche and accomplished his task, who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it, who has always looked for the best in others and has given them the best he had, whose life was an inspiration, whose memory a benediction.”

–Bessie Anderson Stanley, Brown Book Magazine, 1904.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

World Wide Opportunities for... Labor?

Ever heard of WWOOF? No? I hadn't either until I recently read an article about the organization called Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is basically an option for those of you who love travel, or would like to visit another country, and takes away the reason of having no money for a trip. It's definitely not the first-class way to travel, but it is travel nonetheless. Throughout Europe and around the world, WWOOF provides free room and board to travelers while simultaneously providing free labor to local farms. That's right! You gotta give back, it's not just a free couch surfing program.

According to a traveler who had taken part in the program before, those who go for it "have to earn their keep, whether by mending stone fences, tending goats, or as I did, growing vegetables. For as little as a week or as long as three months, you get to develop new skills (I learned to transplant baby lettuces) and perfect old ones (carpentry is always in demand)". The trade-off would at this point begin to seem more than beneficial to all parties involved, but wait! It gets better. It's not all back-breaking work and endless toiling while in the country of your choice, but in fact quite the opposite. Not only would the experience put you into a full immersion circumstance with the hosts, and not only would you partake in their way of life (preparing produce for local markets, enjoying life in the Tuscan, French or English countryside), but once your minimum hours are put in each day, the rest is yours to do what you will. Take a train into town, ride horses, and just explore the land. Imagine herding llamas in the Andes for a couple weeks! At some point taking hikes through the beautiful terrain and stumbling upon ancient ruins...
Anyroad, thought I'd let you guys know!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jardins et Musées

I have become somewhat convinced the primary reason I continue to pick up these stories after long durations having gone without an apparent hint of interest, is simply because I can only escape the desire I have to return to Paris for so long. It is something that will haunt you in the best imaginable way. It's something you never forget. Like an old Edith Piaf song bursting forth from a phonograph. Much like the thought of a woman you are convinced is absolutely the most gorgeous thing you've ever had the privilege of seeing with your own two eyes. Or the itching feeling within your soul that you may receive when you are on the verge of greatness in any way conceivable.

I recently had the pleasure of watching a fantastic foreign film the other day again entitled "Amélie". It is a film about a shy waitress who, after an surprisingly pleasant discovery in her life, dedicates her life to helping others find happiness in clever ways. She seems to have trouble going after it for herself however, and the story takes place primarily in Paris. Fantastic shots of Montmartre and the lifestyle flow throughout the film like the very water in the River Seine. It is definitely a feel-good movie and entirely in French, so it is subtitled as all good foreign films should be. Then again, gotta love those voice-overs in Kung-Fu flicks like "Inman" (another amazing one). Watch the trailer to the film here: Anyroad, this movie had brought me back yet again to the feelings and visions of France I once held in person, leading me to find some outlet in which I can attempt to express it!

I suppose I'll pick up where I left off...where were we.. ah yes! Walking down l'Av. des Champs Elysees towards the Jardin and the Musee Louvre. The Jardin du Luxembourg was incredible, and it had an incredible array of things to witness; an ancient Egyptian obelisk and a holiday fair Ferris wheel among them. It was a Wednesday night from what I remember, and that is good news if you're planning on visiting the Louvre (which any self-respecting art-lover, or self-respecting human being, should fit in when going to Paris.) then because admission is free. Not that I wouldn't have given quite a LOT to visit it, but c'mon when you're on a budget... Truth of the matter is, it will be very difficult to describe to you what happened within those three hours that seemed to fly by too quickly while walking amidst the ancient Greek and Roman sculptures and countless priceless works of art amongst the myriad corridors and rooms of the Musée.

I was pleasantly surprised to find my favorite sculpture of all time at the Louvre, "Cupid and Psyche" by Antonio Canova. I honestly could have, and probably would have, spent all three hours just looking at that sculpture in particular had I not been aware of the immense collection still awaiting to be seen in the museum. It was literally awesome to be in the same rooms with the works of art I had only previously seen in films, pictures and history books. To know the history and struggle and the victory behind the works was intense. When you look at the works themselves, you can see the world through the artist's eyes. What was beautiful; what was chaos. The faces of the very sculptures were themselves the faces of the creator, the people of that time and place. Each stroke of the brushes centuries ago made with the same hands that touched those very scenes physically. One must truly witness it for themselves. Upon leaving the museum, my mind felt intellectually violated, to be honest. It was reeling from the massive intake of an entire face of humanity I had never before witnessed to that extent. It left an impression in such a way that I can never go back to that previous, forgotten way of thinking. My mind and heart was expanded in a way to a growth point one can only experience by being subjected to it. You will see.

Message received: "We, ART, will speak for ourselves."