Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Go with the Flow

I went to Greece last year for a twelve-day tour of the mainland with my family over spring break. After our first few days in Greece, we forced my Dad to put down the travel guides and start asking locals for tips on walking routes to the avoid overly touristy areas and hidden treasure spots to eat and shop. Using this method, we found a hotel nestled in the hills of Napflio where we discovered the most amazing baklava in the entire country. On our walk back from the Acropolis, we were lost in an endless maze, traipsing up and down hills, ducking under clothes lines and leaping over mounds of sleeping stray cats, and finally came upon a cafe that gave us as much ouzo and as many Kalamata olives that we could possibly consume. But more than the free food and liquor, these local citizens and workers were able to give us stories and myths of their restaurants, neighborhoods, and cities.
For several months before the trip, my family and I were constantly sending each other articles and tours we had found online and in guide books. Greece is such a vast country, in geography and history (from ancient to modern) with more to offer than could be discovered in a lifetime so we had to plan our trip down to the minute. We thought this would allow us to squeeze every last ounce of culture and history. We should have learned on our other family trips, and from the obvious cliche that nothing ever goes according to plan, that guide books rarely give you the authentic look at a country and five adults driving around for hours on end in a Volkswagen Transformer (the 'updated' VW hippie van) can never agree on anything. Only when we literally threw out the books on the subject did we allow ourselves to experience the wonderfully rich culture that Greece had to offer. Perhaps even more importantly, we were able to enjoy each other's company because we left behind the notion of being slaves to the typed itinerary.
In Black Rainbow, the strategy the searcher begins with is to follow the instructions given to him by the Tribunal to the letter, never faltering for even a moment. When he begins to question the motives behind the Tribunal's actions and the extent of their involvement in hiding his family, he deviates completely from the plan and finds himself suddenly making real progress with the help of three street kids who failed out of the reodinarination centers. At this point in the story, Foster sheds his "otherworlder" identity that has been beaten into his head for years. It's very obvious when Foster feels the first crack in his airtight support of the Tribunal and President that the cause is his ability to vary from the constant following of instructions. He couldn't begin to discover his true path, and in turn where his family was hidden, until he began thinking like the people who hid them in the first place. It just so happens he placed so much of his trust in the people responsible, it took three homeless teenagers to shake sense into him. Foster's path strays so far from who he thought he originally wanted to be and was lucky enough to realize it when people who were able to help him were around. 
We're all searching for the path that our lives will take and as we mature, that path changes over and over again; no matter how small the change may be, you can see it if you look close enough. And while we all hope to be lucky enough to have truly trustworthy people as the beacons of light in our lives, sometimes we have to fall out of the realm of normality to pick ourselves back up and begin again in the right direction.

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