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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Monday, October 16, 2006

After a weekend in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of those cities in which it appears about half the people walking the streets must be getting paid by the tourist board to make the place look picturesque: old men with flowing white hair and tiny wire-rimmed spectacles; rosy-cheeked, young blonde mothers peddling bicycles with even blonder, rosier cheeked children balanced, singing, on handlebars; young couples hanging out the washing on the roofs of their houseboats.

The very first time I visited Europe -- with my parents, when I was thirteen -- Amsterdam charmed me. This weekend was my first occasion back with time to wander, and the city swayed me even more. What was novel and beautiful to the thirteen year-old, seems now an almost impossible admixture of city-living on an intimate, unrushed, gentle human scale. It's just welcoming and gorgeous and full of people who live like they've got nothing to prove. As urban centers go, it's almost an idyll.

Most life is probably lived in bland suburbs and office parks outside the center of the city. That is so often the case with historic European cities, the charm of whose old town centers necessarily fails to extend with modern sprawl. So long as one can sustain the fantasy of living along the canals of old Amterdam, however, thoughts of blandness are a world away.


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