Monday, August 31, 2020

A wander though the lanes of ancient Split, Croatia

A wander though the lanes of ancient Split, Croatia

Is there really such a thing as bad news?

August 31, 2020

"Peace isn't an experience free of challenges, free of rough and smooth; it's an experience that's expansive enough to include all that arises without feeling threatened."

 ~ Pema Chodron

What a week! As in, wow do I get a do-over on this week? And the usual answer: no amigo, you don't. My 1991 VW camper van, with 355,000 kilometers (220,000 miles) has always used a fair amount of oil, but it recently started burning more oil, and putting out more visible exhaust from the tailpipe. I took it to a mechanic and he gave me the unhappy diagnosis - the engine needs to be rebuilt. How much does that cost, how long would it take, where should I get it done, can I still drive it, I'm on vacation how dare you give me this bad news! Is it still a vacation when you've been at it for 10 years? Hey it's my vacation and I get to set the rules!

There's not enough time to repair it before I have to leave on the 11th of September, yes I can still drive it, yes I will be embarrassed by the amount of smoke it puts out, no I don't know where I can get it repaired. One possibility is that I buy a new-to-me/used camper van in Germany. Details to be determined, but that's a cool idea. And probably still get the engine redone, who knows. It depends on me being allowed back in Schengen, which isn't a given.

The day after I got the news about my van I went to see the local glaucoma specialist and got another unhappy diagnosis. My glaucoma is worse, my eyes are for shit, and it wouldn't be so bad if I was 80 years old, according to the doctor. If I got to choose, which I don't, I would rather have two broken vans in exchange for two eyes that worked.

But what does it mean to have bad news? Is there objectively such a thing? Bad news really means nothing more than: this is unpleasant, and I wish it was different. I have a simple saying that I like: "That's not a problem, that's a condition." No one wants their car to break down and no one wants to have problems with their eyes. But vans break down, and bodies break down, and one day, sooner than we would like, it all breaks down, everything, without exception. Make peace with that fact! You don't have to wonder if it's true. 

So what's the best solution for me and my broken down van and my broken down eyes? Duh, it's to go hiking in the Dolomites in northern Italy, one of my favorite places in the world to hike. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to hike like that. (Neither do you, by the way…) So get at it while the getting's good! As I like to say, don't go hiking to be happy; be happy, and go hiking!

I'm not quite as casual as I sound. I'm really not happy about my new conditions. But it's all kind of obvious if you think about it - I just don't get a choice, and neither do you. Live your fleeting and precious life like it's temporary. Because it's temporary! 

Love always, lovely people!


Just after my glaucoma diagnosis I was sitting in my van pondering the news and wondering what to do, and I decided to go visit the ancient old town of Split.

It was built in 305 AD as a palace for the retiring Roman emperor, Diocletian. It really was a massive undertaking, parts of which you can still see.

I always find these things funny, a museum based on TV show that's a few years old in a city that's 1,600 years old. It reminds me of when I went to Salzburg, Austria and saw all the Sound of Music tours. Seriously?!

This is one of the entrance gates leading into the old city.

I'm trying to work on my addictive stone obsession. Just kidding, I'm not working on it at all! I love it.

The Roman legions happened to be walking by. 

This is one of the main fortified entrances into the city. It's designed so you could easily surround attackers to defend the palace.

Look at the thickness of those stone walls! Incredible.

This is a fancy carved arch above an entry door to a palace that was built in the middle of the 15th century.

Most of what you can see here is supposedly from the original construction of the palace. It all looks ancient to someone like me, but a lot can change in 1,600 years. Some of it might be only like a 1,000 years old.

This is a central square of the palace. There are red marble columns that were brought in from Egypt, along with Sphinx statues. A guide could talk for an hour about what you can see in this photo. I'm not that person. So, walking forward and underneath that arch you come to...

… the sea front, which has been greatly expanded since the original construction. Back then it was a relatively small stone dock which they think was built primarily for a quick escape in the event of an attack.

This is one of the most popular and visited parts of the old city, called the Riva. Lined with restaurants and bars, and just behind them is the palace walls.

(The End)