A gift from a fellow traveler

It was another vacation weekend. Sitting on the beach with two of my favorite people, my telephone far away, unchecked, the madness of the modern moment unimportant before the relentless majesty of an ocean.


Then back to this side of reality, the profanities of each day’s presidential manipulations and depredations. Trump standing in front of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, “This plane, as you know, was built right here in the great state of South Carolina. Our goal as a nation must be to rely on less imports and more products made here in the USA.”


rodins-sculpture-gardenBecause it doesn’t matter to him that the fuselage comes from Italy. The wings from Japan. Passenger doors from France. That Boeing would suffer bigly under his backward agenda of tariffs and isolationism. He doesn’t understand or care that modern reality is not one of warring city-states but of progress through cooperation. The sad shriveled soul of an insecure narcissist cannot fathom cooperation or trust. They are not in his nature, and I pity the human in him.


But in the meantime he’s trashing the rest of us. And my mind wants to go back and hide on that beach…watching the waves…eating that sandwich…hearing the laughter and words of loved ones…


But what’s going on matters. And it’s bleak, in reality and in the headlines. So it was all the more precious to get an email from a former tour member:



Paris is picnics on the Seine, whether you’re wearing a hijab or not.

“I thought of you today when I read about Trump’s bashing of Paris. I want you to know that the Paris you showed (my husband), me, and the rest of our wonderful group was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life…the amazing sites, the rich history, the art, the kindness of the people and well, of course, the food and wine. While Trump’s distortion of reality makes me feel quite hopeless at times, I know first-hand that his ‘alternate reality’ is dead wrong–thanks to you.”


And suddenly the sun feels warmer, my heart feels lighter, and I feel connected with the real human spirit, which is welcoming, encompassing, and kind. Which seeks to understand and support, not belittle and blame. Which is exactly the mindset we seek to foster on Rick Steves tours, so it’s a true pleasure to know I did passably well at least once.


85% of those Dreamliners are sold overseas, and each one can carry about 300 people like my tour members towards greater understanding of each other, community with each other, peace with ourselves.


It’s still important to take short breaks from the dire headlines. But even more important to remember that they are not the full story.