Changing Temples – The Highwayman Cont.

Changing Temples – The Highwayman
Pt. 9.5.2

This continues the rather prosaic contemplation about life lines – in particular how an iPad can rise to rise to such, lofty, descriptive heights. It can appear a little ridiculous. Bear with me.

What happened, by necessity, was a forced change in world view. Let me describe what I mean. First, one must shed all sense of worldly organization and envision a personal, apartment sized world (in Venezia) without a clock. Yes, my iPad was my watch. A world without a calendar (with two best friends arriving in a few days and no idea of the date, time, flight and no way to contact them, because . . . no iPad). A world without access to financial accounts of any kind. A world without connection with all those people who have promised a Pizza Night, an afternoon tandem language exchange, a trip to the weekly market. A world without all those history notes so laboriously transcribed – and I mean extensive notes on the history of Venezia, Genoa, Firenze, Italy, the Mediterranean. A world without those Blog editions waiting to be edited, finalized, and posted. A world where you can’t even notify Bog readers of what has happened. A world without all those Italian Language Flash cards you individually typed up and which formed a nice adjunct to efforts to learn the language.

Let me focus for a moment on just one of those deprivations. A time piece. Imagine, if the ubiquitous presence of time pieces in our world can ever allow such imagining, no stove clock, no wall clock, no microwave clock, no bedroom clock, no tv channel clock, no wrist clock, niente! Appointments for Pizza or Market or anything else are meaningless without having some idea beyond “it’s morning” or “it’s afternoon”. I even went so far at one point as to go to an ATM and take out 20 Euro just so I could see the time on the receipt!

The initial shock of the loss was quite powerful – long before all the consequences outlined above had become realizations. Two things unfolded. First, I reasonably accepted the reality. It opened an abyss that the above life line discussion only hints at, but not like canyon sized abysses I have known in the past. Outward Bound taught me a terrific life lesson – when you are pressed to the limit physically, psychologically, and emotionally, future pressure along those lines do not phase one because they do not (at least as yet they haven’t) ever rise to that level of demand.

Second, thanks to the dear ExPat friend I was with when the highwayman struck, I was able to email my dear daughter Hannah to order and bring with her on her impending visit a new life line.

Third, I know there was only supposed to be two, but this was a trauma situation!, I undertook to return to my wonderfully helpful, “local” internet connection businessman (Gianni) to find out how to cancel the internet connection so as to limit the damage. Not unexpectedly in such a situation, I was told I had to take the Vaporatto back to the very area I had just left 40 minutes ago to do that task. I did so.

Fourth, I went back to Gianni, as I had a vague memory of his “selling” internet time a.k.a. an “internet cafe”. Yes, indeed. So, I was able to write and ask the arrival time/day of my friends – one wouldn’t want to miss that plane.

There is more to this though than the gory details of psychic consequences. When one is required (“forced”) to loose “connection” with all that is “outside”: family, friends, time, finance, blossoming community, news, commitments, one – at least this “one” – is forced to ask why am I here (in Venezia)? What does Wayne want? the answer to that opens such vulnerability of heart, I can hardly address it.

I am sitting, as I write this, eating Spaghetti alla Bersoni con scampi and listening to the owner sing and play his guitar. No other restaurant in Venezia, that I know of, has an owner who loves to sing. The other day with Hannah, he was joined by his sister. What a marvel. When the Italian members of the crowd begin singing along, i felt things more important than lifelines. What is critical or important about a life line may in fact be dependent on the gypsy’s reading of it. This gypsy was forced to read anew.

There is more though. The sense that Montaigne, Edward DeVere, Henry III of France, Casanova, all came with only their personal accomplishments and “status”. Though it might be unfortunate that this particular plebeian in 2013 carries little of that, nevertheless, there is the one thing left – that which is the ultimate character description of Casanova by the way – the power of personality, the willingness to grab what ever thin thread Fate casts one’s way; to flesh out from the thinnest threads of Fate a present life, made significant however, by all that results from that willingness. Casanova was a man who rose and fell, rose and fell, rose and fell. (socially, financially, and in terms of his actual freedom – he was thrown into the Doge’s Prison at the top of the Palazzio Ducale in Venezia for a little daliiance with a Senator’s daughter). He was dedicated, totally devoted to giving everything to the moment, be that moment rescuing the above Senator from a health crises or be that moment the particular woman he was with. And so, I too was left with only who I am and what I could make significant without electronics.

It should be added, finally, that the next “first” thing I did was go into “Il Bodegon”, a Via Garibaldi all-purpose store and buy an interesting, Italian version of a pad of paper upon which to write this homage to a highwayman for later transcription. In so many ways, I was required to return to my roots where the keyboard was an old Underwood, sadly lacking in the letter “e” or, merely, a pen and paper.

Continued . . .

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Changing Temples – Highwaymen Cont.

Changing Temples
Pt. 9.5.1

And the highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
The Highwayman, Alfred Noyes

I once knew someone who could quote the Highwayman verbatim. Anyone who has even a smidgen of memory capacity impresses me, given the length and nature of that poem, I was very impressed. That poem is decidedly a Romantic take on highwaymen.

In the latter part of the 1500s, a man named Thomas Coryeat (he who coined the term “Grand Tour” to describe the “education” and “culture” a person – usually a man – would attain by traveling to Venice, Rome, etc.) was traveling over the French/Italian Alps. Up until the late 1700s, such a journey meant you took horses to the bottom of the Pass, then you were carried in a sedan chair hoisted by four men up to the top of the Pass where you transferred to another chair carried by four different men and carried down the Italian side. I have read reports where even one’s carriage was dismantled, carried up and over, then reassembled.

Coryeat and his companion were somewhere in the lower French Alps when they were set upon by a band of five or six highwaymen. The leader of the band could not, it appeared, take it upon himself to rob “gentlemen”, so he sent them on their way. Then he sent two of his men by round-about-ways to waylay Coryeat and then steal his money and belongings. Coryeat was of the mind that the leader could only steal from them when he wasn’t present, thus preserving his sense of gentlemanliness.

Perhaps it is the patina of age and circumstance, but Coryeat’s adventure, I think you will agree, carries with it a certain Romantic character.

A fellow I know here was, literally and figuratively, attacked in Florence last week. One of the two attackers gave him such a blow to the face that he will require oral surgery. He then grabbed the fellow’s smart phone. His companion dug into his shoulder bag and made off with contents which included credit cards, passport, and other important matters. Coryeat had a hard time finding lodging because the innkeepers would not, as we say today, give him credit. My friend has spent hours on the phone with the Indian representatives of various credit card and bank companies trying to cancel, get credit, get cash, etc. He has to travel 3 hours or so to Milan just to get a travel document to get back to England where he must then jump the hoops to get a new passport. I suspect you agree with me that there is little Romantic about that incident.

Well, as much as I would like to cast the adventure of having my iPad stolen in a Romantic light, it was merely a street Highwayman capable of opening the zippers on my shoulder bag in a crowded Calle and extracting my iPad. It was so obviously silly on my part to be vulnerable to that oldest of scams. So, Romantic that I am, I have been cured!

There were some fascinating realities that attended this little incident. All, or most all at any rate, related to what I describe as a lifeline. My first thought when the idea of the iPad as lifeline came to mind was Palm Reading. Mostly dismissed by the rational, skeptical, empirical, juggernaut that comprises the world view largely dominating modern perspective; marginalized and trivialized for similar reasons, Palm Reading has an ancient pedigree. The “lifeline” in Palm Reading was the interpretation of those creases upon each palm which are one-of-a-kind in each individual – like finger prints of the overall psychic and spiritual persona. Some life-lines divide and show frustration of life energy, to the extent of possible early death. Some show profoundly long and stable unfolding. Some show . . .

An intravenous tube, a rope to a drowning person, a kindness show to strangers are all representative of a life line. I think often of the kindness to strangers version. Our family was driving along the Going-To-The-Sun Highway in Glacier National Park. For those not familiar, it twists and turns and winds it very steep way along precipitous mountain valleys to reach the Continental Divide and then descends the same way. We were making our way up the Eastern side late in the day when a small sports car came alcohol fueled fast around a corner, lost control, and began to slide sideways toward us. My dad tried to direct our car to the mountain side of the road as opposed to the cliff side. When all was said and done, it was a rather horrible accident. Our car was so close to the edge that doors on that side could not be opened as one would step into oblivion. There we were, four young children and our obviously shook up parents. I remember to this day the car that stopped and the people who emerged from it. It was a nice couple from I do not know where. They immediately set about comforting my mom and we kids. After some hours had passed – Highway Patrol still not in existence, they bundled my Mom and we kids into their small, vacation filled car and drove us for an hour in the opposite direction from where they were going and deposited us at our destination. A life line indeed.

Continued . . .

Changing Temples – Highwaymen

Unfortunately, this did not get posted in a timely manner, so there is a bit of catch up. My iPad was stolen some 3 plus weeks ago. It has been a scramble getting back on my electronic feet! Here I am though. More of the regular posts to follow in relatively short order. Glad you are patient.