People Past

Kalaupapa – Riding Mules to Saint Damien’s Land of Sorrow

Molokai, Hawaii – Early morning, high up in the misty reaches of the northern mountains of Molokai, we arrive, park our rental car, and then gather with the other tourists next to a mule stable. Distinctive smell of barn, of leather, of feed, of manure, lingers in the air, reminding me of my youthful days spent at my grandfather’s barn in Franklin, Tennessee. A little over ten mules are corralled and saddled. Audrey, a mule skinner, wearing jeans and a fluorescent-yellow T-shirt with sleeves tucked up, inspects each mule. Other…
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Duke Kahanamoku – The Hawaiian Waterman of the Ocean

Oahu, Hawaii – When I was kid, I saw a black-and-white movie about a Polynesian boy, Tico, who lives in a remote seaside village in the South Pacific, where he befriends a helpless, baby shark. He names his shark Manitu. He raises it secretly in a lagoon, feeding it with the help of his girlfriend. When the shark grows too big, Tico reluctantly frees it back to the ocean. Tico grows up in the rush of civilization that changes his village. People eagerly adopt the new ways of living. But…
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What if Lawrence of Arabia Was Never to Be?

Rome, Italy – Have you heard of Lawrence of Arabia? You probably have. He’s world famous. T. E. Lawrence, a British military officer, had embedded himself in the Great Arab Revolt in 1916. He wrote a book about his experience, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which inspired the name Lawrence of Arabia, and propelled him into an international celebrity. His life had even inspired a movie, Lawrence of Arabia, now a classic, starring Peter O’Toole. That film won seven Academy Awards, including the Oscar for “Best Picture.” But what if all…
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Experimental Travel? – A Mind Map

Experimental Travel? — Tourist, Traveler, Explorer?   I did a Mind Map exercise using Experimental Traveler as the nucleus word. Many years ago, I learned this technique from a book by Gabriele Lusser Rico, Writing the Natural Way. Rico calls it “Clustering.” She devised the technique so that a writer can write from within his or her heart. In the writing process, Clustering is the “exploratory stages . . . to untangle a fuzzy mind.” Clustering gives focus. It’s a way of finding that creative spark, a way of tapping…
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A Place that Made Hemingway

Oak Park, Chicago – I like Ernest Hemingway. So years ago I made my pilgrimage to his birthplace. When Hemingway was born in 1899, his Victorian style home was lit only by gas lamps. No radio. No television. Hard to imagine in our time. The boy, Ernest Hemingway, grew up surrounded by books, arts, music, and his grandfather’s storytelling. Not hard to imagine how he had been groomed to become a great storyteller. “His childhood was filled with cheerful moments,” the docent leading the tour told me. A different time…
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Story’s Love Chiseled in Stone

Rome, Italy – I love the Eternal City. But after a few days, the stress of the big, ancient city oppresses my spirit. I need a break. So I seek solace in a shady, quiet place that smells of earth. Yes, it’s a cemetery. A cemetery for the Protestants in a Catholic city. “The atmosphere of this place strikes people,” Ms. Thursfield, the director of the cemetery, once told me. “I see people walking, just thinking, perhaps with the idea they are strangely alone in the center of the city.” There…
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