April 18th, 2007


Wondering Why We Ever Go Home: Greece, 2007

Journal Entry 1

5:30 AM
Over Germany, South of Frankfurt
I can safely say, it is as dawn breaks over the first day of a trip to Greece that I find myself truly embarking, and it is the break of dawn that affords me with my first new experience on the trip.

Waking from a short nap, I groggily shook the cobwebs out. I dislike sleeping on planes for a number of reasons, but most of all because of the amazing discomfort. The in-flight movie was playing on my neighbor's seatback, while mine was tuned to the time/temp/velocity/map infoscreen that so many planes now have. As I shook out my tiredness, I noticed her looking at my screen, and so I looked at hers.

But the thing that caught my eye was not the movie. It was the view from her now-opened window.

While I was napping, she must have opened it, because I remembered her asking if I minded if she closed it. Now, I was enraptured.

Far on the horizon, dawn was breaking. A line of the most brilliant and deep red was painted across the edge of the world, a line no wider than if it had been drawn upon a black canvas with a fine brush. Below, the lights of cities laid out in grids were mostly dark, and I knew that this spectacular red was not available upon the surface of the earth, that no eye below the clouds could see it.

And I knew I was gazing on something sacred.

For the first time, I found true understanding in the Rgveda's poetic frustration, and how it was tempered by aw, reverence, and a desirous lust at dawn's magnificence.

Before this morning, I believed I understood what it meant to see Usas rise naked from her bath, to see her blush. I had seen amazing sunrises, been warmed by her touch, and blushed myself at the fleeting glimpses I have had of her. For all this, I thought I had seen an intimate side of her, one few others could.

But now, looking out on a show I knew was meant for my eyes, meant only for me, I realized that the depth and breadth of Usas' whole being was laid out before me, and that such glimpses are not given without definite purpose.

And now I feel the same deep pain that the authors of the Vedas must have felt, the same frustration. Usas' beauty and personality and splendor cannot be captured on paper, nor in any words or language known to man, but yet we who know it also feel compelled to share it, to talk deeply about it, to help others obtain that fleeting glimpse.

A sunrise is just a sunrise, though: there is nothing more predictable, nothing more set in stone. Sunrise is simple to most, easy. This is how, forty-five minutes later, with my rapt attention flicking between this page and the awe-inspiring sight beyond the window, my neighbor casually reached for the shade and drew it tight. Usas had not yet given way to Surya, but my glimpse was meant to be fleeting, so I did not protest. Sunrises, it seems, happen for some people.

Sunrises, though, happen to me.

The Rgvedic hymns to Usas, it has been said, are some of the most charming and beautiful in any language, and this may well be because those who could write of her must have a special knowledge. Theories abound now in my head about how the poets obtained the knowledge they did: my experience was in flight, so did they somehow climb above the clouds on a high mountain? Did they obtain the knowledge through flights of ecstatic trance, aided by Soma? Did they experience a different astronomical phenomenon all together?

However they obtained this knowledge, their poetic language fits my experience perfectly. I know that this morning, I saw Usas rise from her bath, and that the colours of the morning dripped from her bosom. I know that this morning, she was blushing in her innocence, but choosing to reveal herself to me because she rouses her worshipers and lets others ("less pious" as the RV says, though I prefer to consider them "differently pious") sleep on. I know that this morning, as she opened the gates of heaven for her lover Surya and the rest of the world, she opened this adventure for me.

It is no coincidence that my first thought upon reflection was: "On the threshold of adventure / god I do love this job so." Usas has opened this new adventure in the most beautiful way possible.

I have now been writing and thinking for two hours: I began this entry just south of Frankfurt, Germany, worked on it as we flwe almost directly over the house in Austria I stayed at a year and a half ago, and end it now as we fly into Greek airspace, and I see the outline of what I have always know as "the Balkan powder keg."

I look forward to this new adventure, and sharing my experience with someone else who knows the Vedas well.

Thank you, Usas. Your gift humbles me.
[end: 04/06/07, 7:30 AM, Over Macedonia, heading into Greece]

A quick Greek recap

My trip, I find, is best summed up by Lovecraft. I'm not sure that I can express why Lovecraft's words rang so true, but they did.
"Three times Randolph Carter dreamed of the marvelous city, and three times was he snatched away while still he paused on the high terrace above it."
But this is just a fast entry, written at lunch, about the highpoints of my vacation in Greece.

Maybe I'll get around to explaining them all. But probably not.
  1. Saw zylch kidnapped by monks
  2. Peed on a sacred mountain
  3. Slept with zylch
  4. Helped write a song called "Pina Coladas and a Crucifix"
  5. Stood on the wall at Thermopylae
  6. Saw a ghost
  7. Finally understood infantry tactics in Greece
  8. Saw (but did not enter) the monestary of St. Barbara at Meteora
  9. Descended into the Underworld to visit the W.C.
  10. Offered to Hephestos on his very doorstep
  11. Learned that sparklie silver thongs should not be worn under see0through black tights
  12. Punted a hedgehog
  13. Was raised on the cool-o-meter
  14. Saw a tanker truck carrying something called "The Liquid Food Experience"
  15. Meditated beneath the Temple of Apollo Pythios
  16. Had a snowball fight on Mount Olympus
  17. Broke glass in a BP station in Athens
  18. Joined the illustrious Club of the Stinkweed
  19. Levitated in my sleep
  20. Saw a Centaur Crossing sign
  21. Saw a yeti!
  22. Watched the sun go down at Sunyo, at the foot of the Temple of Poseidon
  23. Got lost on Olympus
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