"He who would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him," so it is in travelling—a man must carry knowledge with him if he would bring home knowledge.
—Samuel Johnson, 17 April, 1778
I came across this gem of wisdom in early March of 1992. I had left the hotel where my college student association was staying and skateboarded up to Union Station in Washington D.C. to catch the Metro to Dupont Circle. I had friends who were staying at their uncle's place, doing some renovation work. Engraved in stone at the top of the entrance to Union Station, in letters that were probably six feet tall, was the Johnson quote. It struck me as a thought worth keeping, so I whipped out my notebook and wrote it down, and I continued on the wild ride that has eventually brought me to the United Arab Emirates.
For me, Johnson sums up what traveling is all about: an acquisition of strange and wondrous knowledge and the fulfillment of some romantic notion of adventure on the high seas or in the open spaces in the back of beyond. It embodies a lust for life in all its infinite variety, a love of things that are new to the senses, an absorption of life experiences so that we can feel we have drunk deeply of all that life has to offer. I like traveling.
If you like traveling and writing about what you find, Eclectica would like to hear from you. Please have a look at the pieces by Nick Mistretta, Joseph Mourning, Jerry Portwood, or my wife Joanna, in this and the last issue, for examples of what we have published recently in the Travel section.
Please submit by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our next issue will be out on October 1st, so the deadline for submissions is September 1st. We look forward to reading your work.
UAE, July 1, 2004
PS: By the time any of you are reading this, I'll be traveling again: a monster trip, the flight portion of which goes like this: Dubai - Frankfurt - Gdansk - Warsaw - Chicago - Seattle - Chicago - Warsaw - Gdansk - Frankfurt - Dubai. All in two months, and we'll be touring Poland by rental car as well as Wisconsin, Michigan, and maybe Minnesota. I'm hopeful the journey will result in my writing something worth sharing in the next issue.