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Work Is Prayer
My universe is made of stories, not atoms: land, air and sea travel and the power of now. If I  wanted to be a multinational soul, I couldn't  do it in cities  where I taught English like New York or Los Angeles, Paris  or Tokyo alone-I needed to get consecrated  by sailing on the oceans.

 It's a wonderful thing to get rid of everything and everybody and just go some place where you don't know anyone; where, as Melville said,"God's one and only voice is Silence." 

If hollywood is loneliness under a Hawaiian  palm tree, then happiness is solitude sailing through  the fjords

Ship Happens

Living on a ship, might be summed up as monotony tinged with hysteria. It's not real life but an alibi. It  is like going out of your mind everyday- in order to come to your senses; and a fool who persists in his folly becomes wise. After 10 ships, yes TEN, I no longer want to cast doubt on perfection-America.

“It’s not about the money” is the lesser known,   I don’t have a dream speech. Wasn’t it Steve Jobs who said “Money is life’s report card. I've seen this kind of "success" as a drug of choice.More than that, success without fulfillment, is failure, yet, this kind of failure is going to get your best material. 

As An Art Director and World Cruise Coordinator, the experiences at sea turned my can’t into cans and leveraged my dreams into serendipity a thousand unseen helping hands.

Money isn't the root of all evil, boredom is the root of all evil, a spiritual anorexia- the despairing refusal to be oneself. The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are, once you  let go of the life you have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for you.

Being born in America is like being kidnapped and sold into slavery and the shared hallucination of running on the treadmill of consumption and materialism.  It's a mask that eats up the face. It's also like winning the lottery,  a currency, and I wanted to spend it well.

Yet, we value material, we ignore emotions. If I wanted to serve my  country,  I had to betray it. What was the  blue chip idea worth betraying? What was  the lie I told myself?  The disease of more in a world of plenty where most of the developing world is starving.  The lack of simplicity and the yearn for complexity was, and in many ways still is, my blind spot.

The most total opposite of pleasure is not pain but boredom. I was  willing to risk pain ( culture shock)  to make a boring life interesting and re framing  (Home is a feeling not a place)  travel as a verb and not a noun. You have to DO it.--- 1 man National geographic on that everywhere trip.

The good, the bad and the ugly American- Why be difficult when you can be impossible--Hell was about to be other people,other cultures, other languages, and the National Anthem of Hell, was Frank Sinatra's "I did it my way". I had to make the switch from tourist to traveler, and adapt, otherwise this journey would be Karaoke traveling, a cheap imitation of the best yet to come.

 Without risk, faith is an impossibility. My  "leap of faith" to give up all things material was curiosity..The cure for my ennui and   boredom was "Any place but here" and "I want to be surprised everyday".  There's nothing ethical about the work ethic on ships. I got paid in cash, visited nice places,  had a hotel room and six all you can eat meals a day! If the passengers were behaving badly, there was always a new group every 7 or 14 days to keep my interest.

Now that I  didn't need Power Point to explain my job, how much was I worth now that I was no longer in the w2 world of 9 to 5. I was a time millionaire. It was going to be about resourcefulness and not resources.

Who does not love the sea? The beach is a place of healing and joy. The salt cleanses us and the sun embraces us in its warmth. The ocean heals the heart, mind, and soul. life is different. Time doesn't move hour to hour but mood to moment. 

Yet, the sea has never been friendly to me. At most it has been the accomplice of my restlessness.So there is no cure for this  curiosity.TV is an eraser and Youtube and Blogger, a paint brush. My  leap of faith  to go on  ships was recreation and re-creation and re-invention. There are second acts in American lives, and third and fourths.

No Man Is An Island, yet after age 40, land is seldom seen and you can count your friends on one hand.I am an expat, yet not every country will do. I don't know why, some countries fill the gaps and others emphasize my expat-ness. In reality those that satisfy me are those who simply allow me to live with my ''idea of them." Life’s a beach in an ocean of ennui is the take away from places like Fiji, Tahiti and the Maldives. These Islands are extraordinary within their limits, but their limits are extraordinary. Yet if I do the math, an emotional algebra adds up to 1+1=infinity. It's a pristine place.This is no 9 to 5. You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. It is just a fraction of you. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating  on a cruise ship, walking the painted line, where everything is nicely arranged--formal nights, shore excursions, shopping, bottled water.

When you’re perpetually  cruising , you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yes in yesterdays on the road.

 I know both sides because I am both sides: a tourist who doesn't know where I've been; a traveller who doesn't know where he's going. I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. I thought college was the longest vacation I ever took; but this Graduate School seamester is a kind of study abroad in Nomadic Pursuits

I meet therefore I am- a multinational soul. I shrink therefore  I am part of — and apart from  American, European and Asian culture. and the  countries I visit(ed) and live(d) in  are as eclectic and restless as ports of call  I "inhabit" for six hours or at most three daze. . Along with the displacement, and the associated "jet" lag" and culture shock, I  am simply a fairly glib product of a movable feast, living and working in a world that is itself increasingly small and increasingly hybrid---a transit lounger, forever heading to the all "aboard" by 6PM gangway.

The cult of the amateur  wanderers is growing; global souls who haven't been everywhere but it is on their list; for whom home is a feeling,  not a place in the soil but inside yourself. I am one of the privileged homeless. Is there a  new kind of person being created by a new kind of life?

I sequestered  myself to the cruise ships to get away from poker and  the number one thing I hate about the game I love- see:TILT

Getting My Baht Outta Macau and Back To Bangkok

 It's not winning that makes a winner, but losing. The excitement is not from the winning, it's avoiding the disaster, because you're flirting with it every day. It's not like every game you play is the Super Bowl, but every game is the Playoffs.

In March and April 2009, I had my head in the clouds with The Helium Report, #winning  and losing the American dream in Macau every night, playing high-stakes no limit- poker with out a helmet on The Hong Kong Express

 Note to self:  Every Americon Gambler is only a hand away from a very humbling wake-up call.

The selfish brain fears death and looks for predictable experiences, poker is a great placebo that hijacks the brain with a predictable surprise: card players are surprised if they win and surprised if they lose

see: Poker= f(dopamine flow); Money= happiness in the United States of Unconsciousness

According to the promotional material for the song, It's A Beautiful Day is about a guy who has lost everything and couldn't be happier... it IS indeed a beautiful day. Like Rolling Stone- a song about liberation. Clarity I kiss the ground.

You love this town even if that doesnt ring true
Youve been all over and its been all over you
It's a beautiful day
"Every day is a journey," wrote Basho, "and the journey itself is home." If the Zen poet hadn't said that more than 300 years ago, I would have. I am Basho on a frequent flyer pass, with complimentary mojo on take off.

Footnotes-  2009 All Aboard

Space travel sure is fun

Greetings from the user-friendly universe---The Peoples Republic of Santa Monica; Home of The Mac Store, and Apple, the forbidden fruit.

First in January, I was in the Majik Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a bit like Mars.

Then in February, I went to The Land of Smiles, Thailand, and walked on the moon.

Finally, in March and April, I had my head in the clouds with The Helium Report, winning and losing the American dream in Macau every night, playing high-stakes no limit- poker, on The Hong Kong Express.

Leaving Las Vegas
In May and June, I got my Baht out of Asia and went back to the United States of Unconsciousness, playing tournament poker in the black holes of Midwest bars and Las Vegas Casinos. Spent the best part of my losing an Army Jeep, from what I can recall.
There's that line from Sheryl Crow-Standing in the middle of the desert waiting for my ship to come in...
In July, I decided to take a World Tour-Cruise (creating my own luck) to get away from the game. I had a false start with a run at Amsterdam's Holland Casino.Nevertheless, mission accomplished---I love poker but I am not in love with it anymore. Poker and I have decided to see other PPL.

Last month was the Epiphany. On a visit to Monaco , I was scheduled to level up, turning my bogus Poker PH.D. from ESPN, to the real deal in Monte Carlo. I didn't have any gamble in me and didn't even walk through the doors. After all, you can only quit once.


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