Archives For Travel

A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.

~ quoted from The Forty Words of Love, by Elif Shafak (a historical novel about the Sufi mystics Rumi and Shams Tabrizi, which I read during Burning Man)


Fire in a Burning Man sculpture
Fire spreads across the roof of a sculpture at Burning Man


This year, I’ve gained a new interest in personal spiritual experience — so my approach to Burning Man 2016 was very different. In the past, I’ve focused on art and dancing and stuff, with triumphant articles like The Best Art At Burning Man 2015. (Note: Anything I say about Burning Man that includes the word “best” is a joke.)

So this year I did less art-hunting, but there’s always plenty to see. On my way to the desert, I was reading Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and I encountered a section with this heading:

No Trace: When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.

One of Burning Man’s Ten Principles is Leaving No Trace. Officially, this is about our environmental impact — we don’t want to leave a mess in the fragile desert. But Suzuki started the San Francisco Zen Center, which became active before Burning Man began in San Francisco, and someone in the original Burning Man crew probably read the book.

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April 23, 2016

When I was small, I dreamed of getting lost, alone, in every major city in the world. When I grew up, I realized that this was not the best plan, but it felt surprisingly doable in Venice.


Venice by Lydia Laurenson
Venice. View on Instagram


I took a couple of days on my own in Venice, and it was everything I imagined and more. Venice is so unrelentingly beautiful and aesthetically consistent. It’s hard to photograph the narrow, cobblestoned streets — lined in wrought-iron ornamentation and arches, surrounded by slender canals — but I did my best! (You can find my full set of 48 photos on Facebook here.)


Painting by Andy Fluon
A painting by Andy Fluon, displayed at Contini Art Factory. View on Instagram

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