Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Vacation to Nowhere and the Trip of a Lifetime

A Vacation to Nowhere and the Trip of A Lifetime

The best vacation I have taken is one that was surprising absent of a destination or schedule of any sort. The “traditional” vacation – one where you go somewhere specific, for a specific allotment of time and when the only intent is of leaving where you are – are always fun, but are never completely fulfilling. The best vacation is the one that not only take you to a new place, but also allow you to escape the restraints of time. That invisible measurement of our day that unintentionally and yet remarkably runs our lives.
My last escape was at the end of the summer of 2002. One night I received a call from a friend that was currently living in Delaware and during the course of our conversation she said that I should come and see her. Of course, I gave her the usual rhetoric about how I had work to do, I was too busy and that I cannot just pick up and go whenever I want. After thinking about it further I realized I could, so I did. The next morning I packed my bags, got in my car and I was off. I left everything behind and headed North without a clear heading and without any regard to time what so ever. That afternoon I showed up on her doorstep, but ended up staying only the one day. The sheer spontaneous act of simply leaving was immediately infectious. What started simply as a vacation from work and my location, became so much more. It became an adventure.
Over the course of the next 2 weeks, I found myself travelling nearly the entire East Coast. I travelled from city to city seeing whatever there was to see. I saw and experienced it all from museums and architecture, to gardens and art, to college campuses and shows. Each experience somehow heighten by the seeming mere thought that for the first time in my life, I had nowhere to be, no obligations to anyone, and no particular time in which I needed to arrive at my next destination – wherever that might be. Then one day, I went home.
Home is equally an amazing place; fore it is the only place that is both our place of origin and our final destination. My little excursion took me nearly 2000 miles. I visited over a dozen cities, the majority of their attractions and caught up on some great reading. It has been nearly 7 years since my last adventure and I yearn to head off again.

Diagnostic Revision

The best vacation I ever taken was one that was absent of a destination and a schedule of any sort. Although I have enjoyed many “traditional” vacations – a trip to Disney Land or even other countries – none were nearly as gratifying as my trip to nowhere.
Think of your life as though you were sitting down to watch movie. During the course of the movie, you simply press pause, complete a task (take a vacation) and return only to continue from where you left off. Now imagine that while watching the same movie, you press pause, and instead of merely completing a task and returning you produce another film entirely and then come back to resume where you left off. In both instances, you were able to leave your life on pause for a predetermined period of time, but only in the second case did you return different than when you left allowing you to continue with a completely new perspective.
My last journey was at the end the summer of 2002. I was in the middle of my life’s movie when I received a call from an old friend of mine that had moved away to pursue her Master’s degree. During the course of our conversation she tried to persuade me to come for a visit. Of course, I gave her the usual rhetoric about how I had work to do, I was too busy and that I cannot just hit pause and go whenever I want. After thinking about it further I realized I could, so I did. The next morning I packed my bags, got in my car and I was off. What I thought was only going to a getaway to a friend’s house, became an experience beyond anything I could of thought of. The sheer spontaneous act of leaving without any sort of prior planning, specified time frame of which to return, or even a final destination was immediately infectious.
Traveling first to the city of Baltimore ended up being a bust since I arrived before anything had opened. One of the biggest problems with leisurely bouncing through life without any resemblance of normalcy is remembering that the rest of the world is not going to change with you. So, after only an hour or so walking aimlessly around the Harbor I chose to go to Washington D.C..
As a lover of the arts and of continuously educating myself, Washington D.C. is a great place to go. By not having a schedule dictating my every move, I was able to visit places I had never been before and even some places I wasn’t supposed to. I began at one end of the Mall and explored every corner of the majority of the museums as I made my way toward the Capital. By just walking around I found a Shakespearian Library that I thoroughly enjoyed before heading on to the Library of Congress (obviously I am avid reader). This is where things took an unexpected turn. After going through the Rare Book Department I decided to take the elevator back down. I must of pushed the wrong button, because I ended up in a tunnel. The tunnel, devoid of any signage or other indication of where it led was too temping to resist. About a half an hour later I resurfaced in the Supreme Court. Our Nation’s Capital is full of some the most amazing architecture and place. It is probably the only place in the world where the world’s knowledge is literally in arms reach. So, after a day of reading and walking it was time to say goodbye and move on to the next.
I had two choices, to head North or South. On a whim, I chose to go North, and ended up in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania was full of surprises. First off the architecture there is incredible as well with large Palladian style Government building lining the main drag. Driving down the main road, looking around for something interesting to explore further, I saw it. Right in the middle of the city and perched on a hill of all things is the Museum of Art. It was a great museum – not to mention that it was open early and had free day parking – but it would also be the inspiration for my next destination, New York City. After turning the museum for a couple of hours, I decided to walk around the city. I found myself at the Franklin Free Library. Words cannot describe the magnitude of this library. I would venture to say that, aside the building itself, not even the Library of Congress could compare. The library boasts some 4.4 million books, including the entire original collection of Charles Dickens. After the Library, I grabbed a bite to eat, and when searching for a place to rest, stumbled upon a small garden with the gate open. It turned out to be the Rodin Sculpture Garden and was full of the largest collection of Rodin sculptures I have seen. Following a couple hours of resting next to one of my favorite sculptures and reading the latest Grishom novel, I decided it was time to move on to New York.
As often as I visit New York City it never ceases to amaze me. I have lived in big cities my whole life, so you would think the grandeur of the buildings would fade, but it doesn’t. The scale of the building is nothing short of amazing. It is no wonder the city is nicknamed the Urban Jungle. Unfortunately, New York City was also the worst part of my trip. This visit to the city was like none other before it, fore the newest attraction was Ground Zero. So, after a sobering visit to the epic center of terrorism, I toured the city’s art museum and headed out of the city toward the next unknown. I was on route to see Boston, when I decide it was time to go home.
Beyond the cities I mentioned here, my trip took me to nearly a dozen cities, approximately 2000 miles, and lasted nearly 2 weeks. My return was celebrated with the same illustrious fanfare as my departure. It was as if I had simply pressed play, and my life continued. But, this time I had discovered something new. Whereas before on other vacations I merely escaped my location for a predetermined period of time; this vacation I managed to escape time itself.

Not just a class. A reintroduction to College.

My experiences in Paul Gasparo’s English 111 class at Tidewater Community College goes beyond that of a simple English class it has served as a reintroduction to college as a whole.
I started going to college when I was 16 years old, but never finished because I thought college was only a means of getting a job and making a good living. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I have also been very successful in my business endeavors from a young age. So, inevitably I stopped going to college in order to continue making more money. It wasn’t until later that I determined that the reason for college is not just to get a job, but to improve oneself.
Beyond the basic knowledge you get at college, you also learn skills and knowledge that is specific to what you want to do. I have started 3 companies to date all without a college degree and now I could not express the value of college enough. I have started each company successfully, so it would be easy for someone looking from the outside to perceive that a degree for me would have been a waste of money. What they don’t know is how much money I have wasted making mistakes that I probably wouldn’t have if I had finished my degree.
I understand that college tuition as gotten so expensive that everyone must step back and wonder if it is, but it is. I have loss more than double what it would cost to get a Master in Business Administration. Instead of paying for the education at an intuition, I paid with trial and error. Some of my mistakes were so simple, but very costly. One thing I will say though, at the same time there is definitely something to say about learning by hard knocks.
Another aspect of college that is often not realized until later, is the differing perspectives you pick up from students and instructors alike. Generally, as you are growing up since your environment remains constant, you never meet anyone other people that are part of your little world. In college, you get a bunch of backgrounds and experiences all thrown in together. It is really amazing how much you learn beyond the subject being taught. Add in the teachers’ background and life experience, and it really becomes something special.
This is where Paul Gasparo really shined for me. His perspective on life is much different than mine. My life is very structured and I am forced to conform in some respects to what my clients expect of me. I like his departure from what I would say is a normal point of view. Even as structured as my life is, I definitely think outside the box. Given the kind of business I am in and the level that I am at, the people that I am with on a daily basis are all pretty much the same. It is refreshing to see someone else that thinks out of the box as well.
I would also congratulate his style of teaching. It is a good blend of strict and forgiving. Being a core class, I think it is important for students to learn the importance of accountability and turning things in on time. But, given the fact that this may be some students first college experience, I also think that he is really fair and therefore not spurring discouragement at such a tender transition into college.
I would certainly recommend Paul as an inductor to any future English 111 course takers. And would definitely take one of his classes again.