Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Order and Progress

The words that stretch across the starry sky of Brazil's flag mean "Order and Progress" and come from the French philosopher Auguste Comte's positivist motto: "Love as a principle and order as the base; progress as the goal." Soon I will be hurtling through a starry night sky towards the country that waves this flag.
"Order and Progress" 
Tomorrow I begin my journey. Flying all night, I will reach Brazilian air space by Thursday morning. I will land first in São Paulo, one of the world's most populated cities. I will not have a chance to explore this great city, though, as I will remain in the airport to catch another plane to São Luís in the northeastern state of Maranhão. After meeting up with my phD advisor and having a little lunch, we will board a boat that will take us to a smaller island called Alcântara. Thursday night, far from the Colorado Rocky mountains, I will sleep near enough to the Atlantic ocean to hear the sound of waves.

Packing bright colors
Packing good books
For many years, I have dreamed of seeing this country. It is almost surreal to be packing my things, mentally preparing to arrive in a place I started believing only existed in books and songs. I imagine Brazil to be a place in which history and future intersect; standing in one place, one is able to see yesterday and tomorrow all around.

The only book I've written so far: my passport
It has been almost ten years since I last ventured outside of US borders. Since my last adventure abroad, I have lived in three different US states, earned 2 postsecondary degrees, tried my hand in the nonprofit and the corporate world, and married my soul mate.

I am older and perhaps even a little wiser, which means that traveling seems to present itself in a different light now; I feel I can comprehend with much more clarity what Italian writer Cesare Pavese meant when he said "Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky - all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it." I am more aware that traveling is a "brutality" but I am also more aware that it is a privilege and a precious gift to encounter the things I imagine reveal the eternal...

Another change is that I am not traveling merely as a tourist, but as an academic, participating in conferences and working with research groups on potential articles and books (and of course, on my dissertation). So while I will be encountering Brazil for my first time, I will need to know a good deal of things about it already (such as the language). I am terribly excited and terribly nervous.

I will not know until I get there how much access I will have to the blogosphere, but I hope to be able to provide at least one update while there. Wish me luck!.. and until next time, keep those petticoats a-rustling!


  1. I am so excited for you! I pray for a full and wonderful trip, filled with all the inspiration and experiences you are looking forward to.

  2. Kathleen KendrickJuly 23, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    Even though the trip was for academic purposes, I think it still good that you have a good time from it. Having a break every once while working on phd dissertation can help make the mind calm and relieve from stress, which can really help when doing your academic paper.