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The Pessimist

Saturday, September 9th, 2017


Am I really pessimistic, indifferent in my writings? So the Publishers say. I thought I was a realist, although for myself I suppose I’m a misanthropist, meaning: a loner, recluse, cynic malcontent with the world, but Pessimist? I don’t get it. Well I guess I will live with it, and be unpolished for a while, the Man of Woe, that is me. The telegram said, they liked the draft, but I needed to take all the gloom out of it. That is like saying your mother passed away, and at the funeral, you’re not allowed to give her deep sympathy, or allowed to say out loud her name, or in this case for me to print the gloom of the world at hand. The Will of the world is dead! Life is a despair, the only victory in life is war. And the victim is never wrong because if you tell him so, you’re one dead duck, along with the many.

The last publisher out of forty, said I only saw misery and unrest in the world. Somehow life left scars and deep reservoirs, but I made them too deep. He said I said ‘Life was meaningless,’ I didn’t say that, I’ll have to write him back, tell him, I said, ‘The world lived as if life was meaningless,’ no I said, I think I said, ‘nothingness,’ that ‘the world took on the spell of no certain faith, an old religion of nihilism is taking place, that life has gone out of the soul.

After reading his comments it struck me, ‘when I had young eyes like the publisher, for he’s only 27-years old, and I’m 68-years old, he sees the world with young eyes, he can’t see beyond the dimness of today, us older ones no longer can. I know he mocks me as a dimwit, living in the past, but it is the present I am talking about in the book, and future: the ruin, man has caused the world, is not that the roof is falling in. I’d like to call him up and talk to him. Maybe go see him, or have him see me, convince him the world needs my book, it is like a gospel, per near, a gospel of doom! I know Mr. Christion Durant, laughs at me, and if I call him he’ll say “Mr. Solomon Salem, I had a busy morning in my office, I’m in a good humor, don’t wreck the day for me, I’m too tired to fight, we’re not going to publish your rot.”

The previous publisher, for him it was regrettable, he agreed- “… but people do not think the way I think,” to his mind anyhow. Did he take a survey? No! Did he read ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh,’ or Achebe, or ‘The Trial,’ or ‘The Castle,’ or ‘Sentimental Education’ or Virgil, or ‘Hamlet’ or ‘Moby-Dick` or ‘Metamorphoses’: no, no, no, but they all have gloominess to them. How about Faust or Voltaire? No, no, no, again gloominess. For him there is no calamity at the tip of the horizon, no nuclear clock three minutes to midnight, he lives blind in a foxhole.

When I got home last night I noticed a pile of bills on my floor, the mailman’s too lazy to put them in the mailbox, instead of the door slot, that’s for when I’m on a trip, and I haven’t taken one for six years. This mailman’s a new one, he’s older than I, or looks older, with his wrinkles on his face swaying like masts in the offing.

By the time I reached the restaurant, ‘The Chef’ off Payne Avenue and West Seventh Street, my little apartment, two rooms on York Street not far off, just a little walk, no so much an unusual place, more on the order of a greasy-spoon place, with heavy waitresses with loose aprons and bulging pouches, where white haired men eat, and hopefuls with no sympathetic view on life go. I was still feeling badly about the previous turndown of my MS, but Christion Durant was on my brain now. Yet, oddly enough, so much alike they both are. I thought everyone had a view on the chaos going on in the world, did not Aristotle say, “We are all political Animals,” and did not Pope Francis quote that quote to Mr. Donald Trump concerning the wall he wanted to narrow the gap between the overflow of Mexicans sneaking into the United States. I guess my view on it was what Confucius, said: “For a wise man should know what he knows and what he doesn’t know.”

I like them both, but I wonder if Confucius should have changed his maxim to: “A wise man should know what he knows, and not pretend to know what he doesn’t know.”

“The Regular,” I told the fat waitress, with heavy-duty varicose-veins, it’s a crying shame, her insurance policy here doesn’t pay for them to be taken care of, and evidently they don’t. Just then a man came in who lives in the bottom apartment of my four-plex building. He’s 93-years old, he said he sold furs in his younger days.

“Hello,” he said, waves; I give him a wave back.

Mr. Christion Durant, should know evil is not blind, only hope and those like Russia, and Putin, and al-Assad in Syria, and the Islamic State, and North Korea’s head honcho, China likewise, they are all brooding over owning more of the earth.

To know them you got to know their fathers and mothers, because they get their temper from their father, and their good sense and intellect from the mother. The world lives in half-truths, like dreaming, if they put it all together, they’d have a heart attack. But what is stronger than the temper or the good sense or intellect? That is what my book is about, ‘The Will’. Why the world is falling apart. Why people put-up with living an unbearable life, a burdensome life. That’s why I live by myself, short-tempered and all, and live a challenging-like life, it takes guts to do that. Not mouth-guts, like the politicians, but gut-guts, it takes a strong Will.

I still don’t know if I should call him. I didn’t know until recently my book produced such a bad impression on him of me.

I have two sons and two daughters, seldom seen, all out of wedlock, one of the daughters has what I have, that is above ‘Will’ not so much intelligence perhaps, but the will covers that all up! Her husband just died, and she’s survived it quit well. She is not in touch with the pretense of the world. She’s not gloomy, and cynical, or suspicious. Or obsessed with fears, and evils, or fancies.

It is an effort thinking all these things out, the old man, the fur man, looking my way, smiling. Hair loose, flying to and fro, he sits under a fan, to cool his ordinary body, and life, and he laughs happily as if he told himself a joke. I’d bet he’d agree with my book to be.

I sleep with a gun under by bed, and I hate noise, it is unbearable, but those with less mental capacity, they can endure noise it doesn’t torture them, for intellectuals, it does, the knocking, hammering of neighbors, loud music, that base thumping, all torment.

I remember once my boy, one of the twins questioned me on if I had any friends? Not one single friend. A lot of acquaintances, but I’d not call them friends. Between him and them, resides infinity. And I’m immune to political protest and nationalistic fevers. What is so outrageous, so absurd, and so egotistic of this? I can sleep well, I know my prayers are heard by God.

I shall name my manuscript, ‘The Dark Side of the Riddle,’ because there is a double riddle in the book, perhaps triple. And what is a riddle but a puzzle if not a question, and mystery, a challenge for the world to find.


It was a struggle waking up this Saturday morning, full of sweat and bad odor; I looked out the window, and saw some joggers, and the breakfast sign on at ‘the Chef` café, up the street. I wanted to get into the shower, and not be troubled with breakfast. I wanted to call Christion Durant, tell him I got a name for the manuscript. I had to get up out of bed slowly, my head always hurts if it is too fast, I wanted a cigarette, but I had quite for 32-years, it seemed like the bitter taste would wake me better, but that was out of the question. I went and got into the shower, I do a lot of thinking in the shower sometimes.
I realized the MS attracted little attention for Christian, and his publishing house, but in my last of several letters I let him know he should publish it for humanitarian reasons. And he wrote me back, “Use it for waste paper.” But I knew he didn’t mean it. Oh, he also said, remember, “If a demon looks like a demon inside your book (somewhat… quoting Confucius, I believe, misquoting him… ), then it is a demon, but somehow you expect an angel of God to come out of it, I think either the demon or the angel needs help, and you have to iron that part out! The book is hollow, and on a collision course.”

The only thing I could tell him, and I’m not going to, but if I did I’d say: ‘Like it or not a man must be humanistic in general, and I can’t take your comments serious, perhaps I’m too alien for contemporaries, knowing what I wrote, is what mankind has turned down in place of chaos, for he knows at large, man knows at large-even if only in the unconscious, he is the fox being hunted. And who are the hunters?’

I picked up a letter the mailman left on the floor. It read from Mr. Durant, “You are deaf to your audience, because you cannot see no one applauding, can you, yet you persist in us publishing your rot? Tell me what is in your book to applaud?”

How can he talk like that to me! Here is an editor who wrote at one time and could not sell, so he took a job editing books to judge them for his publisher. A judge with less applause than me. The poorest of the players! The only thing his job does is raise his ego, and rejecting my MS, was a short cut to his compensation for his absence of fame.

In other words, Christion knows my MS reads like the Torah, a doomsday Torah, but all thinking people must find seclusion, and for that reason I cannot go knocking on his door. But I’ll stop giving lectures at the University, I can survive on the revenue of my mother left me, she left me quite an investment in apartments.


There are a few areas, dark areas I never cared to expose. And a few days after Mr. Durant’s last letter, I’ve decided that this phase of my life, at this old age, it was time to; of course that is why I wrote the book, but Durant I doubt read it. Nonetheless as time goes by, it must be written or talked about and he is the last one I want to send my MS to. I can feel his aversion, and it has no substance, his resistance is pride. I was hardly conscious of this before, before this morning, I must have thought it in my head last night, vague as I remember. I will rename my book “The World’s Dark Soul”. A new name for an old book. I don’t want to leave home today, I want to write him a letter, or talk to him. But I don’t like eating in, too many cockroaches, rats and mice, flies and spiders, mosquitos. I’m no house clearer that’s for sure. Where is the Argentine wine?

I guess I’ll go to the bar, the “Do Drop Inn,” it’s a ways away, but I can take a bus.

Fill the glass up please!

“Why,” asked the waitress, “every time you come here you order a glass of wine, and leave one glass empty?

“A good question, not sure if you are too noisy or not, but I’ll tell you way! I’m going to fill that second glass up, whenever I come here, and not hear anyone complain about world events, and war, and the shape of girls, and gambling, and drugs, and guns, and drinking too much, and expect a change to occur by not facing the issues, they are complaining about. I see when I came in, you had a grin on your face, now you answer me why?”

“It wasn’t a grin, I’ve read several of your articles in the newspapers, and on the internet, a few in magazines, and you’re a real thinker?”

“Really! So you don’t think I have a dark soul, that I’m eccentric, write with peculiarities.”

“I didn’t say that, but what you write is always interesting.”

“Interesting. Does that mean, pretentious jargon?”

“What does that mean?”

“Conceited nonsense!”

“Oh now, you write in riddles!”

Just then the postman came in.

“Mr. Salam, I have your mail, take it here and you’ll save me the climb up your stairs.”

And he handed me a letter from the publisher, Mr. Durant, as Susie poured me my third glass of wine.

“Good or bad news,” asked Susie.

“My book just got accepted for publication!”

“You should call and thank your publisher!” said Susie.

“I have nothing to say to him, verbally. Although I shall be writing him quite soon enough, anyhow.”


When I got home, it was quite late, and the phone was ringing. I answered it, it was Mr. Durant on the other end.

“Mr. Salam, I have now read your whole book complete, cover to cover as they say, and I want to know what the riddle is, the so called Chinese puzzle, its terminology seems to have blurred that area up for me. I assume you got my letter.”

“Well, it’s about time you read it, and I suppose I can try to put it in a nutshell for you, if you can take my conception of the world, with a black frankness?”

“Shoot, I mean go ahead, I’m not that closed mind.” Replied Durant.

“It’s only a 125-pages, but no time can be more favorable than now in which God sees the world in a shamefully misused way, and indeed may look the other way as He did at 9/ll. Leaders worldwide, only wish to further their own objectives over the masses, the political arena is a bullring. There is nobody to oppose them, but God Himself. These present-day leaders indeed wish to live it up, with power and greed and have special rules for them, and for us, obedient to their rules however they make them up, and they make them up at any unused moment. It is impossible that we have not adopted-or better put, approved the demon for the past 50-years to guide our societies. That truth will come quietly and modestly to the surface only to have a short lived life. Truth is no longer nobler than recognition, favoritism; they should go hand in hand. And truth today is what the people want it to be, not what it is.”

“Well, what is the riddle,” asked Mr. Durant.

“I must answer with hypocritical humility, and first I’ll give you an example, then the maxim, if you don’t mine. Would you build a library underground next to a neighbor’s garden and not expect him to water it, thus, not waterproofing your library, which should be a must. Should it not? (Durant didn’t answer, as if waiting for the punch line) I’ll answer it for you, no you would not. If you did, you’d be a dumb head, or drumhead for someone to beat there drum sticks on. Now for the second part, ‘Out of darkness comes light,’ evidently you did not see that. In our world today of over seven-billion, we all speak not as if the other guy or gal doesn’t exist, we act as we are separated from our one united human race, as being the only one that counts in the human race. God hates indifference.”

Asked the publisher “What does this light say about all of this?”

“To accept the external world as real, and don’t put your worse foot forward. Attack materialism, and nihilism. The most vital part of the light is God. Stop trying to explain God as matter, because we only see things as matter through the mind. There is a door, there is God, and there is a key, and he has it in his palm, it is to the entrance of the external world. Check out the Book of Isaiah. The crust of the earth, is much like the crust of the mind, there is much underneath it. Actually, here is where the vital resources resides.

“Are you aware, the ‘Will’ is stronger than the guide, if you are its master?”

“Now what does that mean,” asked Durant, “I read something on that in the book!”

“It means just what it means, that if the world cannot find a reason to stop the chaos, it is obvious they have found reasons and enough reasons, because they want it. Sometimes logic is useless, and useless knowledge becomes a form of income. This is the sum of my riddle, and of course the end, being the ‘Will’ or third part of the riddle, to do what has to be done, the world does not have the Will.”

“You didn’t answer your answer complete?” exclaimed the publisher, “We’ll publish your book, but to be frank I think the stupidest men in the world get their foxy words to have multi meanings, and our Board thought your book held some value, because of that.”

“Let me explain, once and for all Mr. Durant: Character resides in the ‘Will,’ not intellect, and this ‘Will,’ has eight wings: ambition, demand, determination, resolve, motivation, backbone, longing, hope against hope (God), and this is what the world lacks, Will!”


Said Mr. Durant, “I did like your last chapter in the book, may I read it to you?”

“If you must,” I told him, although I wrote it, and knew what it said, but how can you refuse or argue with the man who just said, ‘I’ll publish the darn book!’ as if he was unwilling, and the Board of Directors made him do so.

“Okay,” said Mr. Durant, “last chapter: ‘War, Effect and Will’ goes on to say, ‘… there is a power within us, in all living things, and this power rises in every living thing: plants, planets, animals, men, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe. It is the Will, at work, its determination to survive, the instinct to carry on, and that demands balance, geometry, without it the universe and man would produce only chaos, and have ended long ago. So God constructed one and all to be guided by this, or meet its end; that is to say, if it is entirely without this.

‘Will and intellect, put together, says, the elephant will not cross the weak bridge; it foresees the effect. The world today is the elephant without Will or intellect, it is crossing the bridge, at its own peril. Without regard for anybody or anything. The Will, is not there. Perhaps I can say, there is only the intellect at work, it maybe so, that man sees the fall but knows he’ll be dead by the time its impact hits him. So why not allow it, dead is dead to him; out of sight, out of mind. So he allows the fall by apathetic reasoning.

‘The Will, is of course, the power to live, want to live, the man above, knows he has lived his maximum, of life, so indifference sets in, he only cares how dear life is to him, not all living things. So in silence he bides his time.

‘Culture to him has less value than an ounce of copper or zinc. Even the living toads found in limestone share in the eternal enemy called death. And do not mistreat their environment, they understand reproduction.
‘The Will, is independent of knowledge. In a way it works blindly. For a person with a strong will, it is life sustaining. A low background means nothing to him or her. He or she will make it. All the organs inside this person will follow the Will. And forgo knowledge, he knows the Will is the principle form which all living things proceed; s/he knows because they know. They may not know why the moon circles the earth and the earth circles the sun, and the nine planets in their orbit, circle the solar system, and that the universe moves as does, and the galaxy’s, inside the universe, move, and what a supernova is, or the forces of gravity at the edges of a black hole have to pull those old suns into its breadbasket, but Will tells them, they don’t have to know. God balanced it all out for them.

‘Chaos, the unbalanced world among man, causes war. If man is not at peace with his neighbor, it is a cause for war, and the end of peace. In the 21st Century war means the end of our species; we will be sent back to the Stone Age, by duped politicians. We have seen recently in 100-years: WWI, 8-million people died. WWII, 80-million people died. Three wars in Israel. Two wars in Iraq. Two wars in Asia, the Koreas, and Vietnam, 3-million lives taken (the war I was in), and war in Afghanistan, and the war in Libya, and now in Syria, that has taken in four years, and 250,000 lives. At any given time, per near 25% of the world is at war. Russia has had three wars in the last decade; and Africa is become a war zone. Russia has even hinted they’d use nuclear arms if need be with Ukraine. North Korea boast of the H-bomb, and says it can target America, South Korea, and Japan. Iran has a working nuclear plant, convincing Obama it is for peaceful reasons when they have the 5th largest oil reserves in the world, who he thinks he’s kidding, when we all know they have sworn to eradicate Israel with it, as has Hamas, who leads the Palestinians.

‘The impulse for war among some nations is as strong as the impulse to have sex. We’ve allowed certain individuals-like leaves on an evil tree-to grow wild, unaccountable to the world order, Obama being the worse of the guardians of the world, since America is the so called watchdog. This allowance, will castrate the world, if we do not cut down the tree of evil, or at least, deaden those harmful leaves, before it ends our species.”‘

#5087/2-21 & 22-2016 / Copyright © 2/2016 by Dennis L. Siluk, Dr. H.c.

Strategy 2 for Extraordinary Travel: Have a Well-Designed Plan, Adapted To Your Liking

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

When you travel in the great trip style, your trip will be independent but well planned. You will be traveling to places that are so remarkable, and seeing things that are so interesting, you will immediately begin to reap the benefits of traveling independently. Before you leave on your trip, you will adapt your trip to your own preferences, interests, style and pace. And you will have the flexibility of altering your timing according to your interests… to pause and fully experience what strikes you.

Traveling anywhere you please using the great trip travel style, either by using a pre-planned trip book of your choice, or by carrying out your own investigation and planning, you will have a complete trip blueprint, based on in-depth research. You will have a good idea of what your options are before you arrive. So you will be able to avoid the frustration of missing out on rich opportunities you really would have liked to experience “if only you had known in time.”

Lack of preparation can add to stress levels on any trip, especially a trip to a foreign country like France or Italy, where people speak a different language, and you may have limited access to the internet while you are traveling. Doing some preliminary groundwork before you leave home will make a tremendous difference in how smoothly your trip goes, and how much fun you have along the way.

With a little pre-planning, and by observing a few simple keys to being a more balanced traveler, you will have better experiences and more fun, and be assured of a great trip every time you travel. These keys include:

1. Balance your trip with a range of activities.

2. Maintain a comfortable pace.

3. Avoid traveling with the crowds.

4. Keep your trip relaxed and fun.

5. Adapt your trip to your liking.

Balance Your Trip with a Range of Activities

You will have the best experience if you maintain variety in what you do. Too much of anything can get tiring. More does not necessarily mean “better,” even for activities that are immensely interesting to you.

As an example, two castles a day, for three days in a row, is definitely out of balance. If you attempt this pace, the charm and the magic, the history and the amazement, will be lost. Stop at four per trip! By the time you reach your fifth castle, you will be on “château overload,” dragging yourself through the motions, and thus “wasting” a castle. It will be much better to save some castles for another year, and intersperse other types of activities into your castle days to break things up a bit.

Maintain a Comfortable Pace

Often travelers try to pack in as much as they possibly can, thinking that by doing so they will get more value for their money and have a more enriching experience. While this may seem to make sense intellectually, it can be a recipe for disaster. It’s easy to get so caught up in the excitement of trying to do everything that you end up feeling rushed and exhausted by the overly-aggressive pace you have imposed on yourself. Ultimately, such errors in pacing can make the enjoyment go out of the trip, or even cause you to get sick. And this you do not want, for numerous and obvious reasons.

While you are on your great trip, traveling independently with your trip-in-a-book guide or your own detailed plan, you will be in control of the pace of your trip. When you need more time, take it. When you spot something marvelous, stop and enjoy it. Lounge on the steps outside d’Orsay, listening to the marvelous pianist playing his full-sized piano on the sidewalk. Hang out watching the sidewalk artist beside the Pompidou Center as he completes his chalk drawing masterpiece. If you discover an organ concert in progress in Notre Dame, take the time to listen to it for as long as you like.

When you are out and about, there’s no need to push yourself too hard. Give yourself permission to slow down, to take “power pauses” to recharge your batteries, and to experience things that pop up along the way. Sometimes “less is more.”

Often you will be walking… at your own pace, pausing where you wish. On your strolls through the elegant Tuileries Gardens, with its vibrant colors and striking sculptures, you will reach a large pond surrounded by inviting chairs, where Parisians gather to sit and bask in the sun. And you will have the freedom to find yourself a chair and join them before you climb the hill to stand in awe surrounded by the misty loveliness of Monet’s waterlily murals in l’Orangerie.

If you have a yen to linger over a coffee, or a glass of wine in a café… If you feel that you’re at the end of your rope and need to sit awhile on a park bench to regain your energies, while watching the parade of people passing by… Even if you’ve just had enough for the day… Set your own pace. When it suits you, especially on the day after a strenuous travel day, allow yourself the luxury of a slow morning, with a relaxing breakfast. Ease into your day as you would on a Saturday at home, after a hard week at work.

Remember, this is your vacation, to be spent as you like. There is no need to set new records of how many museums and attractions you can see in one day. Traveling is not about doing everything you possibly can. It’s about relaxing, unwinding and having great experiences.

Avoid Traveling with the Crowds

When you travel with a group, every place you go will be crowded because you are a crowd. By definition, traveling in the company of 30 others produces a constant reality of “hurry up and wait.” You will suffer through long lines for hotel check-in, to purchase tickets, and to use the restroom. At restaurants, you will be one of 30 people placing your dinner orders at the same time, then awaiting the arrival of your drinks and food, and later your check.

On your great trip travelling independently, you will be in crowd-avoidance mode, moving against the crowds, not with them. Wherever you encounter swarms of people, and see that the lines are building up, you will have the flexibility to go somewhere else instead, then come back later when the crowds disband. So you will be able to admire Monet’s pond lilies, or Van Gogh’s self-portrait, or the model of da Vinci’s rotating bridge, without throngs of people blocking your view. And you will be first in line for ice cream in da Vinci’s park. In Paris you will have in your pocket the “magic” Museum Pass that will allow you to skip the lines at museums. And you will have advance tickets to avoid the lines at the Eiffel Tower.

While you visit the châteaux of the Loire Valley, you will have the time freedom to fully explore these phenomenal and historical palaces, inside and out. If there are crowds blocking the door to Chenonceau, you will be able to shift the order of your visit to take in the gardens first and delay your entry to the palace itself until after the masses have dispersed. You will have time to wander the gardens, as well as to visit the ballroom and royal chambers. And, if you so choose, you will be free to pause for lunch right there, sitting at an outdoor table, with a view of the castle.

When you visit Mont Saint-Michel, again you will enjoy the considerable benefits of traveling against the crowd, moving about in a pattern that separates you from the throngs. Since you will be staying overnight on the Mont, by the time the masses arrive and flow like a torrent through the gates, you already will have climbed up to the Abbey at the top. When the hordes complete their climb to reach the entrance to the Abbey, you will be making your way back down by way of the ramparts.

As the throngs flood the restaurants on the Mont for lunch at noon, racing to bolt down a meal in time to get back to their buses, you will be at liberty to snack on the cheese and crackers you gathered earlier, and wait to dine later, after the streets have emptied and you have the Mont more to yourself. So you will dine at a window table as you watch the spectacle of the tides advancing across the sands at the speed of galloping horses, until the sea surrounds the Mont and renders it an island again.

Keep Your Trip Relaxed and Fun

Have you ever been on a vacation that turned out to be more stressful than your normal work and life at home? Let’s face it, traveling anywhere can be remarkably challenging, whether it be visiting relatives nearby, making your way to a national park you’ve always wanted to see, or embarking on a grand adventure overseas. You find yourself plucked out of your comfort zone and in unfamiliar territory. But travel doesn’t need to add to your stress level, raise your blood pressure, or make you run for antacid tablets.

Go easy on yourself. Anytime you travel and step out of your comfort zone, the number of things that can “challenge” you dramatically increases. Cut yourself some slack when traveling. There’s no reason to get upset when things that are normally simple, and a matter of routine, trip you up and get in your way.

For example, when traveling in a foreign country like France where you don’t speak the language, even finding a restroom can be a challenge. The food is not what you’re used to, and asking simple questions with unfamiliar phrases from a book can feel daunting and embarrassing. Even going to the pharmacy to buy basic essentials can be an ordeal, with unfamiliar brands, not to mention that everything is in French.

Allow yourself some extra time to “flounder” a bit. Quickly get over any initial shyness you have about asking for help whenever you need it. These “permissions” can make a huge difference in how smoothly your travel days will go. And you will be surprised at how quickly the French people will make every effort to assist you once you overcome your hesitations about asking for help.

If you let the intriguing uniqueness of the French culture and lifestyle be part of the adventure of your trip, you’ll find yourself eliminating stressors, having a lot more fun, and making friends along the way.

Adapt Your Trip to Your Liking

Make adaptations to your trip based on your own particular interests, adding more of the types of activities that you will particularly enjoy. And don’t forget to keep your travel partner’s interests in mind when you do. One way to ensure that neither of you tires of a single type of activity, is to take turns deciding what comes next for the day.

The Day Pages in each pre-planned trip book, or that you will set up for yourself, will provide you with a full schedule, and lots of specifics. But what if you discover that tomorrow is Market Day? Or you hear enchanting pan flute music drifting down the shopping street and emerge onto the square to find live performers playing in the sun beside a café that faces a lovely old church?

What if you spot a shop that sells Santons-those remarkably detailed artisan-created figurines, popular for collecting, that portray all the chief characters in the village including the baker, the “goose girl,” the old couple, the crazy man, and the ladies of Provence, as well as Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, the shepherds and the Wise men? Or when you encounter a wine-tasting tour in the candle-lit catacombs of a former abbey?

When these and other golden opportunities present themselves, you are free, even encouraged, to deviate from the plan, alter your path, and otherwise seize the moment, then rearrange as needed. Take advantage of happy coincidences that occur. Experience Market Day. Listen while the pan flute music soothes your soul. Pause in the Santon shop to pick out a few figures that strike your fancy-maybe the woman carrying a basket of lavender or the little drummer boy.

When you happen upon the old abbey that offers wine tasting in its crypt, pay the few Euros for your tasting cup, and pick up a form to record your descriptions and scores of the wines you taste, placing asterisks beside your favorites. Then walk through the catacombs, pausing in front of the wine barrels to pour yourself samples by the light of the candle.

As you shift your plans for the day to get the most from unforeseen opportunities, you may need to do some rearranging of what you had planned, according to what is most important to you. But you will always have your original Day Pages as a guide to help you avoid missing out on any of the “must see” items at the top of your list.

As you make choices, and reprioritize how you spend your time on this trip, remember that you likely will return here again in years to come. So you will have other chances to do what you miss doing this time.