A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[PHOTO] Ten points I have taken from my recent trip

I have been left, during and after this recent trip, with a few thoughts and observations in my mind.

1. Friendship is magic. Other people, through their kindnesses, have transformed my life, and I only hope I have been able to have the same benefits for them. I do want to do better.

2. Always remember to use the active voice, not the passive voice. This holds true in life as much as in language.

3. Telephony in the European Union is remarkably affordable relative to my experience in Canada.

4. The Lombardo-Venetian countryside, glimpsed from bus and from train, is beautiful, but parts seemed to be in slight disrespair. Was this a real consequence of a decade of austerity, or is this just me projecting onto a helpless landscape? Discuss.

5. Venice is a marvel. For centuries, generation after generation of people took enormous care to build up a glorious city open to the world from the mud of the Venetian lagoon. Venice has flaws, but Venice’s successes far outshine these. We must find ways to keep this city alive.

6. Never underestimate the ability of islands to be cosmopolitan. I did not get to go to the old Ghetto, nor did I go to the churches of the Greeks and of the Dalmatians, but these three locations certainly exist, sustaining dynamic communities for centuries. The population of actual Venetians, meanwhile, is diverse; the Bangladesh-born operators of a San Polo gelateria we visited on our final night were not unique. It is not that islands are incapable of being open and diverse; rather, it is a matter of some people on some islands choosing to keep these islands from being home to open and diverse societies. (Prince Edward Islanders, take note of these anti-cosmopolitans your enemies.)

7. Murano and Burano, while small relative to Venice and removed from the heart of the Venetian lagoon’s archipelago, are worthy destinations for exploration.

8. Metropolises like Milan and Frankfurt, tempting as they were to me in their proximity, also to me merit more than a few hurried watch-watching hours of exploration. That would have been more tantalizing than satisfying.

9. I am more comfortable with Lufthansa, in the way that it deals with inevitable setbacks, than I do with United and its surprising successes. (I could make this into an illustration of a deeper contrast between German and American corporate practices, but should I? Discuss.)

10. We cannot do everything. I mentioned, in point 5, three destinations that I did not glimpse; as a long-standing fan of Sid Meier’s Colonization, I also regret not seeing the Arsenal. Even so: we are beings limited in space and time existing on the surface of a plane effectively endless in its diversity. A choice to reject all of it because we can only experience some of it, because we are not perfect, is the stuff of an ill-thought tragedy. Imprisoning ourselves is something we should learn to stop doing.

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