Why Portugal? Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira

Wayne Cook

Joined August 2008

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Artist's Description

To live, is to choose,
One to stay in place,
Treading water until the inevitable,
Insensitive, placid, unknown, unmarked

The other….fight tooth and nail
To live, to experience
To give, to receive in turn.

I will not tread water,
No matter the temptation,
Fighting with mind and heart
Soul and spirit, until the fiber of my being
Knows that life is not for sitting!

There is a sword,
It lies in your hands….
On one side,
For each thing you do good,
The blade is etched,
Blazing scrolls of glory,

The other side,
An inscription.

“He was a discoverer”

To discover, to know,
To reach.
There is no shame in failure,
There is shame in not trying!
********************************************************

I am sitting here at my desk this morning, remembering these days. Like a sadness that one cannot erase, and the intervening time that passes, cannot assuage the pain, I pass even my working hours, remembering. What am I remembering?

It has been said, that the past is gone, and only memories remain, that we should live in the present, for the moment, enjoying, learning and climbing the organic and ever changing steps that lead us to knowledge and to God.

One of the triumphs and as well, one of the tragedies of living as humans, we have three parts of us that affect our lives, our hopes, our emotions, and our dreams. We are exalted by events in our passing that give us happiness; we are driven to sadness, often on the passing of those events, for the very lack of the mountaintop emotion we experience.

For many of us, those two extremes, often govern our lives, leaving us with wide swings of feelings. What days would have such effect on this author?

This year, I had the great privilege of traveling to Portugal, to visit friends and see the very sites I had viewed here on Redbubble, residing in that small land. Portugal is a country, officially established in 1910, with the formal writing of a constitution as a representational democracy, with an elected government. Her history, however, as a monarchy extends hundreds of years back, and as city states, Lisbon, for example, dates back to well before the time of Christ.

Nothing in Portugal suggests ostentatious surroundings. Lisbon is a very cosmopolitan center of commerce, fashion and beauty, but today, this country is a mostly quiet, relatively benign world state. It joined the European Union and remains part of that body today.

As a point of interest, she contains many World Heritage sites, some of the prettiest beaches in the world, and a portion of the Atlantic Ocean that may be unrivaled for crystalline beauty. As I flew the final approach to Lisbon, I looked at the clear waters off Cascais and could see the sand beneath, the varied shades of blue, reflecting the sun at one point, brilliantly.

In only five days, starting at Azoia, I was presented with discovery after discovery, from a quiet and lovely restaurant atop a mountain fronting the Atlantic, to the lush parks of Monserrate, palaces, monuments, magnificent architecture, forests, and culture.

My tour guide for this eye opening journey was our esteemed friend, Tereza Del Pilar. A gifted photographer/artist in her own right, she selected the most vivid of locations to conduct a tour, one that would not only showcase the heavenly scenery of Portugal, but one that would also highlight the history of this jewel of Western Europe.

Frankly, by the third day, I was overwhelmed. Having visited Azoia, Cabo Raso, Cabo Roca, the hills of Quinta da Regaleira, the forests and coasts of Arrabida Natural Park, the beautiful and spiritually calming brother statue of Jesus to the one that was built many years ago in Brazil, the magnificent bridge that crosses the Rio Tejo, and the magnificent Monserrate Palace and gardens, I found myself frantically trying to not only capture my emotions in place, but the scenery, the visual document. To this day, I am amazed not only that I could so vividly remember the sites, but the enthralling emotions, to be able to write coherently, palpably, of so many of the places, so many of the integral feelings that accompanied touching, stepping and observing the earth, and the sky, the foam of the surf at Estoril, to the vaulted heights of Jesus, formed in likeness, there in that monument aside the Tejo.

As a point of reference, I would remind my reader, that I come from a country that is in contrast, a baby historically. Although the United States of America is beautiful in its own right, our history as a nation, stops within a few short years of 1776. Our ancestors of those first years, mostly came from England, another country with long historical lines.

When I returned to Texas, I began to research and read the literary giants of Portugal. What is the fabric of this land, which generates such a rich backdrop of language, world domination and scientific discoveries? Remember, the world as we know it today, was in large measure, explored by a long row of navigators and adventurers, born in, or sponsored by various personages and groups in Portugal. Columbus, disputed as he is as the discoverer of America, still had enormous impact on our history as a country.

Still the answer remains in shadow. Music, Literature, Culture, Language, History, Architecture, Real Estate? Was there a single point, in which my mind pivoted to realize the importance this one, rather small country, with a fairly recent constitutional document, would have to this American to excite such rapt attention to what Portugal could be?

After months of writing about my impressions from Portugal, a land that really has captured my imagination, I would have to say the single most important thing that tips the scales, would be the history. For out of the history of Portugal, emanates the literature, the architecture, the exploration, the romance. Any one of which could and does point irrevocably back to Lisbon. And Lisbon is ancient. Lisbon has existed into antiquity, dim in the far distance.

Lisbon is also home to knowledge that in my mind, makes it a centerpiece in world history. To acknowledge this rather small city, as world commercial centers go, is to realize something, that since we as a global community have passed by, has impacted our world, as we know it today, beyond my ability to write it all here.

To me, it has been a privilege to share Portugal with the visitors of this place. Perhaps, I shall never realize fully the vast importance of that small speck in the universe of our life of learning and memories. Portugal created the Want. Portugal arrived on my mental and emotion horizons through many, many people here, and I had the incalculable chance to see a dream come true, to step on the shores, to walk the palaces, to smell the fragrance, to hear the words, to taste the delicacies, and to sample the visual statements Portugal, dressed in her gown, bedecked with rare jewels, could present to me, those short days of my working tour.

In return, I have tried to further present the incredible beauty of this land to you. I have composed music to laud her sites, photographed and shared my visions. I have written poetry about and to Portugal on many of my contributions.

As one person who dreams, as most of us do, I was blessed. Many years ago, I read a story about a real Mapmaker, who was allegedly a part of a small school of mapmakers and navigators studying at the home of Henry the Navigator. Although Wikipedia asserts that no such school existed, many of the explorers who left from Portugal knew Prince Henry personally. Circumstantial evidence suggests that these intrepid men, congregated often to study and share. Oh, the book? The Mapmaker, by Frank Slaughter, a coveted volume in my small library. It is still listed on Amazon.com

Will this small discussion have any effect on a group of travelers? Will people who explore this planet, stop and muse over what I have written? Is this small contribution to the library of writings on Redbubble likely to excite people to act and travel?

I hope so. The very act of exploration is the stuff of knowledge. From the time of the Phoenicians to the internet today, people have been crossing oceans and stars to discover the mysteries of life. You, the individual, CREATE THE WANT. If you want it, you find a way to achieve it.

Portugal was, and perhaps still is, my mystery…from the time of my youth and the books I read, that shimmer of glaze past the east Atlantic has disturbed and cajoled me. When the door opened, I ran, not walked, through it. I hope you do the same. Some place is calling you. Prepare.

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Artwork Comments

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