“To have been young, then to have grown older, and finally to die is a mediocre existence, for the animal also has that merit. But to unite the elements of life in contemporaneity, that is precisely the task” — Kierkegaard
Back in Portland, where the motto “Keep Portland Weird” is heard often, it has been hot. Hotter than in Panama just a lot less humidity and more comfortable. Still it was hot for Portland. It’s our annual migration north to get boat parts, see family and friends modified this year by health issues, so it looks like we will need to stay in Portland longer than last year.
But, we get a chance to repair stuff, order boat parts and recover, amalgamate back into life in the City . This last year, the tropics took their toll on boat stuff and on my photo equipment. The dinghy continues to leak, special fluorescent and other lights have failed, the boat’s BBQ–our little wonder–needs a total rebuild, the handheld VHF won’t charge, some parts for the outboard need be ordered, get a new microphone for the Icom SSB, the list goes on. Two cameras have failed. Also an “L” (the series that isn’t supposed to fail) series lens failed during our eight months in Central America. What continues to amaze me is that lenses these days, have all sorts of electronics in them. Long gone are lenses with just glass. It’s kind of scary that some lenses need firmware updates, the new Sigma Lenses have firmware (computer code inside a memory chip) inside. I wonder, can a camera or lens get a computer virus? Meanwhile if people and equipment have to recover, then Portland is not a bad place to do it.
A new breed of tourist is seeing Portland these days: The Segway Tourist. Gaggles of these machines and their riders are seen parading in a column down Portland sidewalks – all seemingly contributing to the “Keep Portland Weird” ethos.
The Portland State University farmers market, is not weird, and it’s just a few blocks from our apartment. It is a real treat. It’s full of fresh farm-grown produce stands as well as prepared-food carts. The quad at Portland State is overrun during the summer months on Saturday mornings by dozens of farmers and food vendors.
Starting at 8:30 a.m., people start filing into the tree-lined space to look and buy everything from heirloom tomatoes to smoked Yak meat to vegetarian honey (if there is such a thing). The line for breakfast burritos must have been ½ hour long. The people wandering through the market are just as varied as the food. We see very old and very young, well-to-do to indigent. Purple hair to no hair.
Portland looked new to us after an eight-month absence. I like the way old places look new after being away. Perspectives change, we change. Physically Portland was the same place, but it looked brighter, it had a gilded edge. I love what travel in general does to our view of the world. Everything looks fresh and special.
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” said Dorothea Lange, and I think travel does the same thing. Keeps our view of the world refreshed and I think happier. Annie Dillard said, “As we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.” Steve Jobs said, “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” All those sentiments imply change as necessary for a healthy mental outlook and a more creative outlook as well.
Our summer back in the States is a very short time. A window of time to be used well. We need to be “in the moment”, mindful of time and place and not let too many seconds slip by without intent or action.