setting off to find
pleasures that will cost neither
money nor effort
Life in the low country of South Carolina is slow.
We live in a town of less than 30,000 people.
Last week we visited another town of 2,000.
It is a tourist area with lots of things to do that cost money.
There are also lots of things to do that don’t cost money.
There are lots of things to do that take a lot of effort.
There are lots of things to do that don’t take a lot of effort.
Make some sandwiches and fill a water thermos.
Pack some folding chairs.
Drive off to the beach.
Sit on the Atlantic coast of the United States of America and watch the ocean for free.
Free but priceless.
A fee to see anything else seems a sham.
I know the beach isn’t for everyone and everyone has their special place.
I remember that feller, Andy Rooney and his bits on the show Sixty Minutes.
Mr. Rooney once made a TV Special about view America from the Air.
It was a cluster of helicopter shots of famous American sights, Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls, etc., with Mr. Rooney’s narration about the spot explaining why folks wanted to go there and see the spot.
Right in the middle of the film, there was a helicopter shot of a water front cottage.
Mr. Rooney said that this was a view of HIS favorite spot.
But, NO, he was not going to identify it as then other folks might go there.
Mr. Rooney was willing to share the view of his favorite spot but he didn’t want to share the spot.
The funny thing for me was that I knew where his favorite spot was because it was where one of my cousins lived off in the Hudson River Valley and it was a local secret that everyone knew Mr. Rooney lived there in the summer.
For me, I have said it before, I am lucky.
For me, a trip to the coast costs me neither money nor effort.
It is my favorite spot.
I don’t care who knows it.
I don’t care who knows where it is.
To find it, face north and turn right real sudden like.
It is for everyone.
It is free.
I wonder what the rich people are doing?
This haiku and several others like it, are adapted from the writing in the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and Mr. de Botton’s comments on the book, Journey around My Bedroom written in 1790 by Xavier de Maistre.
de Maistre, de Botton writes in de book, “living in a modest room at the top of an apartment building in Turin, de Maistre pioneered a mode of travel that was to make his name: room travel”.
‘Millions of people who, until now, have never dared to travel, others who have not been able to travel and still more who have not even thought of travelling will be able to follow my example,’ explained Xavier as he prepared for his journey ‘The most indolent beings will no longer have any reason to hesitate before setting off to find pleasures that will cost them neither money nor effort.’ He particularly recommended room travel to the poor and to those afraid of storms, robbers and high cliffs.
Unfortunately de Maistre’s own pioneering journey rather like his flying machine, did not get very far.
The story begins well: de Maistre locks his door and changes into his pink-and-blue pyjamas. With no need of luggage, he travels to the sofa, the largest piece of furniture in the room. His journey having shaken him from his usual lethargy, he looks at it through fresh eyes and rediscovers some of its qualities. He admires the elegance of its feet and remembers the pleasant hours he has spent cradled in its cushions, dreaming of love and advancement in his career. From his sofa, de Maistre spies his bed. Once again, from a traveller’s vantage point, he learns to appreciate this complex piece of furniture. He feels grateful for the nights he has spent in it and takes pride in the fact that his sheets almost match his pyjamas. ‘I advise any man who can do so to get himself pink and white bedlinen,’ he writes, for these are colours to induce calm and pleasant reveries in the fragile sleeper.
*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.
According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.
As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.
To also quote myself, I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.
And to reemphasize, neat trick in writing a book.
If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.