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Welcome Blog; Experience as a writing prompt

Hi! I’m Cat, aka C. K Durham. I am excited that you have landed here!

Welcome to a blog about writing, travel and awakening.

In my monthly posts, I will explore the expansive nature of travel, the art of writing from a non-traditional background and perhaps delve a bit into the mysterious topic of awakening.

Travel is one of the incredible gifts of my life. At age fourteen, I was shipped off to boarding school in Switzerland—an incredible blessing, as it turned out, and one of life’s pivotal points. Home life was not the most idyllic, so there was no tearful goodbye at the airport. In fact, my suitcase was full of contraband—ten pounds of 45 vinyl records, which my father explicitly forbade me to take. Sitting on the airplane waiting to take off, I imagined the people I would meet. Little did I know that some would remain great friends for life!

In Switzerland my brain began to change and, I like to think, re-form. I learned French, formed friendships with kids from all over the world; Switzerland, Poland, Somalia, Ghana, Sweden, Australia, England, Spain, France, Colombia, to name but a few. I began to see my home country, America, through broader eyes.

Learning another language creates new neural pathways. Some phrases easily communicated in one tongue are impossible to translate into another. It feels almost as if you pop into a different skin when your proficiency borders on fluent. I believe taking the time to learn any new language helps make a person more resilient, flexible and tolerant . . . even if you never apply for a passport.

Immersing oneself in another culture is humbling. A few years ago, I was invited to go on a tiger safari with one hundred and forty Indian nationals. I was the only foreigner amongst them. They welcomed me so graciously and kindly. On the bus to the retreat center, they sang songs and played music they all knew, like most Americans might easily recall the lyrics to ‘Blowin in the Wind.’ The music was beautiful but unknown to me. They taught me Indian dance and we sat around a roaring fire. The next day we took off in safari jeeps looking for tigers. We drove around the preserve and saw peacocks, antelope, wild boar and every sort of animal imaginable . . . but no tigers. I heard you can spend a week on the preserve and never see one. Then, our driver was radioed—tigers on the other side of the preserve! He took off down the rutted road, high speed and we hung on for dear life. He only slowed as we neared the last sighting. All of a sudden, the jeep in front of us began backing up, fast. There was no choice for our driver. He shifted into reverse and zoomed backward. Later we learned the jeep in front of us had been attacked by a swarm of angry killer bees. When the bees finally settled, we shifted into forward and there they were were— two magnificent tigers! They were so close you could almost touch them. One leisurely rose and quietly walked into tall reeds. When he emerged, he stepped into a large pond, and I could see something dangled from his mouth. At first, I thought it was a bird, but then quickly realized he had a young antelope grasped within his jaw. He swam to the other side, then sat with his prey. It seemed almost gentle. The tiger waited patiently for the life to drain from the sweet little antelope. It was sad, yet incredibly poignant. The paradox of life; death for the one means continued life for the other.

The tiger sighting was to become the inspiration for a scene in my book, “Lotus.” It was the beauty of the tiger that I couldn’t get out of my mind.

How does experience translate to writing? It is one of the topics I want to explore in this blog. The tiger scene in my book is pure fiction but the inspiration came from the wild tiger I was so fortunate to meet that day!

I can never hope to write with the eloquence of the many gifted writers who spend years in the study of the English language. It is one of my favorite past-times; browse the library or a local bookstore and have the great fortune to stumble upon a book, open it, read several pages, and recognize I am in the hands of a master story teller. But I have come to understand there are many ways to come to the craft of writing. I hope to explore some non-traditional ways in this blog. I invite you to come along!

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