"Women are the guardians of continuity. If the hearth moves, they move with it. Remember, it is the gypsy women who keep their men on the road."

~"Boomerang Love," Jimmy Buffett

Donation Japan

Initially this blog was designed to be an outlet for me to share some of the pictures and stories from my travels, and I think it's fulfilled that function. But Margaritaville always carried a stronger significance to me. In addition to being a place to get your shakes and new tattoos, it was a search for something profound. Something sublime. That could be a place, a feeling, a person, a memory, or a piece of art. Obviously, since I'm back in my hometown of Arlington, Texas, home of 3 amusement parks (if you include Jerryworld), 2 professional sport stadiums, and 0 museums, it's unlikely that I'll find it through my typical avenues of adventure travel. Naturally, I've had to find other ways to keep myself occupied, which I have done to great success, as demonstrated by my recent absence of posts. At a later time, I might share some of the highlights of the last few with you, but for now, I feel there is a more pressing issue.

As mentioned above, Margaritaville is about my search for meaning. In my sophomore year of college, I took an Honors seminar entitled "In Search of Meaning" --a humanities course that rolled literature, religious studies, philosophy, and ethics into 3 credits. The reading list included a variety of texts throughout history exploring some fundamental questions about our basic humanity: excerpts from the Bible, the Torah, and Confucious, poetry from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, seminal novels such as Siddhartha and Stranger. Obviously, it was a very ambitious, wide-sweeping course, filled with lively discussion and thought-provoking questions posed by a group of smart, opinionated liberal arts students who wanted other liberal arts students to hear their smart opinions. Luckily, keeping us all grounded was the infuriatingly brilliant, Dr. Michael Adams. He was a simple man who loved his wife and his dog, and he had a penchant for making absurd metaphors that juxtaposed his academic expertise with his Central Texas upbringing (ex: "Your essay looks like you sprinkled commas with a salt shaker"). Midway through the semester, he offered us the option of replacing one of our literary essays with one describing our experience doing a service project, the lesson being that one can also find beauty and serenity through selfless giving. At a school that literally boasts an ivory tower as its landmark, this type of real world application was both unexpected and refreshing. I haven't seen Dr. Adams since he hugged me at my graduation, but I've never forgotten that lesson. It may not necessarily manifest itself in overt ways,  but it has played a tangible, instrumental part in all of my major life decisions.

It's for this reason, I feel like this blog is an appropriate venue for me to share a very different side project: Donation Japan. In light of the tsunami, one of my good friends took it upon himself to establish a charity for the victims in Japan. Since I had some prior training in disaster relief, he asked me to write a post for the site. Of course I was happy to oblige, although what started as a simple solicitation for monetary donations quickly transformed into an introspective reflection on the act of giving itself. Here is an excerpt:
 As tragic as the tsunami was, we cannot forget the families in our own backyards that are displaced from disasters such as fires, floods, tornadoes, power outages, and winter storms...Large-scale tragedies often move us to generous giving, and rightfully so, but every day millions suffer less visible tragedies such as hunger, homelessness, disease, and humanitarian conflicts. 
The full blog post can be viewed on the Donation Japan website. If the spirit moves you, you can also make an instant online donation to the International Red Cross. All proceeds will be used for disaster relief efforts in the region.