Published Articles: San Miguel de Allende

Welcome to our articles page.  This series of posts is a record of articles that have been published in San Miguel de Allende's "Atencion" newspaper. This series authored by Val Jon Farris is called "The Traveler Within." Appropriately the series begins with an exploration of the nature of "Curiosity" which is the first step required to venture into "the world within."  Please enjoy the articles and send us your comments, insights and suggestions for future topics!  (To open and read a PDF version of each article just click on each image.)

1 Inquiry“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on deep and permanent in the ideas of living.”  – Miriam Beard    Curiosity is the first step towards exploring the inner world.  Some say travelers are restless and are born with a wayward streak.  Others label them as nomads and vagabonds.  And still others romanticize them as wayfarers and pioneers.  But beyond these fanciful notions one of the distinguishing characteristics dwelling within a traveler is simple curiosity.

2 Inquiry 95x95“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.  – T. S. Eliot   To “know the place for the first time,” after having already been there may seem a bit confusing, but if we exercise a measure of Inquiry a deeper understanding begins to emerge.  Language and the meaning of words is a travel adventure unto itself.  Just as exploring new cities, sites and cultures enriches a traveler’s life, so too can the exploration of words and their underlying definitions.
3 Engagement 95x95“Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you've got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over what you put into it.”  – Maya Angelo   There is no doubt that travelers “love life and engage in it with passion,” however the notion of “giving it all you’ve got” is an elevated degree of engagement that only the most dedicated travelers rise to.  Maya Angelo’s quote also suggests an intriguing investment proposition; a kind of law of exponential reciprocation in which life recognizes our degree of participation and rewards us many times over for it.
4 Introspection 95x95“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson   The traveler’s credo is, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” And that first step in this case has to do with what I call Affirmative Introspection; a mature traveler’s practice in which we engage in a self-inquiry process from the positive point of view of looking for something wonderful within us rather than  to prove it doesn’t exist.
5 Transformation 95x95“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”  Heraclitus   Traveling is far more magical than anyone who isn’t an avid adventurer can possibly imagine.  Exploring new and unknown destinations is not only enchanting, it’s liberating and depending on the degree of one’s introspection it can be life changing and transformational.  Let’s explore this intriguing notion of “transformational travel.”
6 Gratitude 95x95“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”  – Thích Nhất Hạnh   This week I want to explore one of the most important virtues of a wise life traveler, that of gratitude.  As the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhất Hahn points out in his quote, those who walk the path of life with the awareness that their every step can be in gratitude not only “kiss the Earth with their feet,” their footsteps blaze a trail for others to follow in by stepping into and elevating their own Attitude of Gratitude.
7 Sacred Time 95x95“To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.”  – William Blake   There is a secret passageway hiding between the hands of the clock.  It exists in the unknown space between time’s momentary “tic” and its predictable “toc.”  This hidden portal leads to a timeless place residing both within our human psyche and our outer reality; a measureless destination in which nothing is ever early or late, or even “on time” because time itself does not exist there.
8 Destiny 95x95Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson   Conventional wisdom says our destiny is guided by divine providence and that no matter what we do or do not do, our fate is sealed.  While a higher power may be involved in shaping our destiny, in this week’s post we’re going to explore Emerson’s assertion of taking personal responsibility for our destiny by focusing on what we think, the choices we make and the character we develop along the way.
9 Guidance 95x95Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.”   – Rumi   The Sufi Poet and Whirling Dervish, Rumi knew the value of guidance from within, the practice of leading ourselves into our inner terrain in order to better navigate our outer world.  While self-guidance is something most wise life travelers have cultivated through trusting their own instincts and using common sense, Rumi eludes to a deeper, more sacred guidance called the “pull of love” which we will explore in this week’s post.
10 Choice 95x95“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”  – Robert Frost   Taking “the road less traveled” isn’t just about doing our own thing or digressing from the status quo.  Its deeper meaning points to an extraordinary distinction many life travelers never fully explore which I call the “Heart of Choice.”  Upon reflecting on Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” it’s clear he was musing over the forks in the road of life.  It also eludes to the process we go through as we face diverging roads, as well as the regrets we harbor after making certain life decisions.
11 Emotions 95x95“The movement between the fear of being nothing and the love of being everything inspires life to fully live.”  – Val Jon Farris  Most seasoned travelers are savvy when it comes to navigating uncertainty and change; like finding their way in unfamiliar neighborhoods, moving through crowds of strangers, or traversing dimly lit cobblestone streets.  Yet when it comes to emotional movement, dealing with the intensity of fear or anger, the obstacles of conflict and anxiety or the abyss of depression and grief, many life travelers find themselves out of touch with the wisdom of fluidity moving within their own heart and soul.
12 Spirit 95x95“I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells.  For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we are of the same tribe.”  – Chief Crazy Horse, 1877   This weeks post is about a unique modern-day tribe called the "spirit travelers."  While these travelers of spirit dwell within all races, they’ve been documented as living among both European settlers and Indians of the Americas including the Cherokee, Hopi, Lakota, Inca, Yaqui, Maya, Aztec, Toltec and Olmec, and to the East among the Sufis, Buddhists, Taoists, Cathars, Druids, Gnostics, Egyptians and Aborigines.
13 Pacal 95x95"Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” – Anatole France  The theme of the “Travelers Within” column is to illuminate an extraordinary nexus place within each of us; that midway ground between the majesty of the outer world and the mystery of the inner world.  And perhaps more importantly to offer “navigational practices,” ways of maneuvering with the emotional material deep within our psyches; practices that when taken to heart, bring about greater harmony and fulfillment in our lives.  Join me for an ancient look at how the Maya, and King Pacal navigated this mysterious nexus!
14 Paradox 95x95“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” ― Plato, The Republic Anyone who’s traveled the road of life and gathered lessons along the way can appreciate Plato’s musings about wisdom.  They also understand that navigating life’s journey’s requires dealing with the challenges of confusion and dilemma, and most notably the conundrum of paradox. The term “paradox” comes from Latin, “paradoxum,” or “para” which means “contrary to expectation” and “dokein,” or “doctrines of truth.”  A paradox is “a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated proves to be well founded or true.”  This explanation certainly fits many of life’s most confounding challenges.
15 Reality 95x95I spent half my life aspiring to be spiritual.  I’m going to spend the next half being fully human.  For while the direction may seem different, the destination is exactly the same.”  ― Val Jon Farris Notice the contrast between the reality of solid stone and the whimsical image of its watery reflection?  Which of these two mediums would you choose to walk across in order to arrive safe and dry on the far side?  Unless you possess the talents of Christ, I’ll bet you’d join me in a stroll across the solid bridge of reality.


16 Life Love 95x95
Where there is love there is life.”  ― Mahatma Gandhi  When it comes to inquiries of the heart there is one question that just about everyone in the world asks, “Have you found the love of your life yet?”  There is no doubt that answering “yes” to this question is a beautiful thing, yet I can’t help but ask a contradictory question that almost no one in the world asks, “Have you found the life in your love yet?” At first glance the juxtaposition of words is confusing, but for wise life travelers who take its contrary implications to heart, extraordinary value emerges.

17 Fulfillment 95x95“Life is a promise; fulfill it.” ― Mother Teresa   Fulfillment . . . that elusive promise of attaining unbounded happiness, contentment and peace in our lives.  Our yearning for fulfillment however doesn’t stop there as it reaches more deeply into our desire for freedom in the sense of living as we choose rather than as we are obliged.  Many travelers I meet along life’s path aspire to the freedom of fulfillment; so much so that they work themselves into exhaustion in the hopes of one day attaining it.  But the reality is many never do attain it.

18 Selfhood 95x95“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle   To “know yourself” appears to be an anomaly of the obvious, a natural outcome of observing one’s lifelong preferences, values, opinions and patterns of behavior.  But this lackadaisical personal inventory of affects and attributes has nothing to do with who we really are.  The wise life traveler who is truly on the way is aware that until they know themselves beyond the obvious self they assume themselves to be, they will know nothing of who they really are.  That is to say, there is a deeper dimension of “selfhood” residing within us that beckons to be discovered.

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