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The Labors of Bucephalus No matter how tedious life at times could become, one look out the window was enough to remind me that not far away, the world-and adventure-were impatiently waiting.-R. Morse

About jreuter

Writing about other things, events and people is easy.  Writing about oneself, however, will inevitably result in at least an hour of staring at a blank screen, asking the question, “Am I even remotely exciting enough to write about?” I guess you’ll be the judge.  A full-time student at Portland State in Oregon, my initial purpose to return to school after an extended absence was in pursuit of a career in teaching ancient history.  Not to my surprise, I have decided that hours spent in a classroom may wear upon my near neurotic need for movement, so I have come to an impasse.   My recent trip to the Middle-East was an unexpected chapter in my life, but one I have desperately needed for some time.  For now, I feel strangely satisfied, and can for once look at photographs of places like Luxor, Petra and Istanbul without feeling an almost painful and envious yearning for far-away places.   And how inspiring it is!  Life of late feels electric and purposeful, my once-buried sense of optimism has been excavated yet again, and I think often to myself that anything and everything is possible.


 Concerning the purpose of my trip…


Well, firstly, adventure for adventure’s sake is all well and good.  I wholeheartedly believe that there are few better means of shaping character than through relinquishing one’s comfort level.  After every cold shower, a sleepover in the frigid northern border of Syria, and after every delayed/cancelled bus/train/ferry, my appreciation for life in America increased.  And it is all so subtly different, and exciting, to be constantly moving, sleeping in strange beds, eating strange food, hearing voices but not comprehending one word.  But beyond the mere experience of it all there lies, I believe, a more poignant reason underlying this journey.  Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt…the history behind these countries is staggering.  Empires rose and fell, jaw-dropping monuments were erected, and religious disputes begun millennia ago still rage on today.  This is what I’ve come to see, the events, and people, steeped so richly in history, that may very well shape the future of mankind. 


My initial purpose was to follow the path of Alexander the Great, which I have, though loosely, done.  But I’ve found that  trailing the movements of an army that existed roughly 2300 years ago is an arduous, time-consuming endeavor, and most tourists are not concerned with sites requiring a lot of imagination (ancient battlefields, for instance) rather well-preserved monuments and bustling urban centers.  Therefore, travel to such sites is, at best, limited.  But more than the inconvenience of it all, my passion for history has been easily distracted by the here and now, by the smells and sounds, the events and  people of today.  It’s not easy to dwell on Alexander’s siege of Tyre when the funeral for a slain Hezbollah leader is being held in Southern Beirut, or to contemplate pyramid architecture when a French rap band is playing a gig next to the Sphinx. As I have reiterated again and again in my travel blog,  it is so largely the people who have made this trip such a positive experience for me, and as my contentment fades over the coming months (which it inevitably will), I will be planning, hoping, and striving to return to the world outside my borders.  

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