I found an old journal that I kept from summer 2003-summer 2004 while packing. It's a great record of a trip to Ireland, a year in Clermont-Ferrand, and then three weeks on a farm in Italy. There are so many sections that I love re-reading, but here's one that I'd forgotten from June 11, 2003:

"This afternoon I understood why I had to come to Ennis [Ireland]. The man that I wrote about struck up a conversation with me- he's a monk, born in England... then came here, where he lives in a small village 30 miles north of here. His name is Patrick and whoah, he was interesting.

We talked for about an hour about how people understand each other, religion, etc. He said love is wanting someone else to be happy and I forget how he defined compassion, but he did. He also said that it's important to know emptiness, not in a bad way, but in a way like when you dream something and then wake up and it's not there. He said perspective is like 2 people on two ends of a candle; one argues that the flame bends to the right, another that the flame bends to the left."

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