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On traveling. Dune.

Luna // On traveling // 12 Months

Traveling with a one-year-old can feel daunting. Kristine and I have taken trips with Luna before - a weekend in Mexico when she was just a few months old, a week in Guatemala at eight months - but this recent journey felt different, more substantial. It was a multi-leg odyssey, shuttling us from Los Angeles to visit my relatives in North Carolina, then on to Florida to see Kristine's family, before circling back home.

Leaving behind the comforting routines we'd established was painful. Luna's room and crib, her high chair and well-stocked fridge, the toy chest and neighborhood walks that anchored our days. Knowing those would be inaccessible, I was unmoored. Those cherished rituals were replaced by the unfamiliar: A pack-and-play which Luna seemed hesitant to embrace, meals eaten on floors and laps, a sparse selection of travel-sized toys packed away in a little bag within a suitcase. Our usually predictable life, which in recent months had calcified into a reassuring rhythm, was suddenly syncopated and offbeat.

All that being said, babies are adaptable. I was surprised by how readily Luna adjusted to this new existence far more quickly than I did — and at a year old, she was now an active, babbling being, absorbing the shifting scenery around her with bright, curious eyes. It all felt so different from our previous trips, when she was just a swaddled infant lump accompanying us passively.

This time, Luna engaged. In North Carolina, she delighted in being with my family, playing with toys and party balloons and singing songs. Reaching Florida, she took to the pool with glee, splashing the water from within her miniature float. And everywhere we stopped, as soon as we set her down, she was off - toddling across airport lounges, tearing down hallways, exploring every new open space with infinite energy.

Watching her, I realized travel for Luna was pure wonder, each new vista and room and face a revelation. Her world was expanding by the minute, by the mile, and her enthusiasm, her simple joy in exploration, was contagious. When I was with her, I felt my homesickness dissolve, replaced by the thrill of seeing the world through her eyes.

One afternoon near the end of our trip as we walked along a nature trail in the Tampa Bay, we spotted baby alligators. I reached out and pointed my finger, and watched her follow the invisible line I made and spot the creature floating in the water, camouflaged among the reeds. Just a few weeks earlier, this gesture would have been meaningless to her, but now, she grasps the significance of pointing, the concept of joint attention. "Look at that," I said, and this time, she understood. Her mind was making new connections by the second.

Travel with a baby is work, no doubt about it. Routines are disrupted, nerves are frayed, sleep is often scarce. It's an exercise in improvisation and patience. But it's also an invitation to embrace a beginner's mind, to experience the unfolding of awareness - your child's and your own.

As much as I've grown to love the comforts of home, I also appreciate the beauty in introducing my daughter to new places. By venturing out into the world together and exploring the unfamiliar, I get to share in her wonder and discovery. No matter where her path may lead in the future, I hope that it will feel a little less daunting, a little more familiar, because she will have traversed spaces first with us by her side, her eyes wide open to the unexplored.

What I Watched + What I Read

The two categories of media this week were taken up by the same piece of fiction: Dune.

Somehow I made it to the year 2024 without knowing much about Dune. I never read the book, I never watched so much as a trailer for the film. I had, of course, heard bits and pieces of the story. The desert planet, the worms, the messianic protagonist.

I had been stopped from engaging for a few reasons: intimidation of the books length, the impenetrable language of the first chapter which I had picked up and put down several times, and also, perhaps, the fear of disappointment that comes with approaching any cultural monolith.

Regardless, I decided it was finally time to take the leap. To read Dune is to be dropped into a world of richness and strangeness - cinnamon smell of spice in a vast desert holding secrets beneath its shifting sands. Frank Herbert's worldbuilding enveloped me.

Reading Dune, I was struck by how effortlessly it seemed to bridge the gap between the intimate and the epic. On one hand, it was a deeply personal story of a person grappling with their destiny. On the other, it was a sweeping saga of empire, rebellion, and the tides of history. Herbert seemed to be saying that the two are not so different - that in the crucible of human experience, the personal and the political are always inextricably intertwined.

I finished the book and almost immediately watched the film. There’s a hypnotic quality to the movie’s imagery. The undulant movements of the sandworms, the play of light across the dunes, the eerie beauty of the spice. Watching it within the Vision Pro felt like having my field of vision swallowed whole.

There's always a risk, of course, in consuming a source material and its adaptation in such close proximity. Would the film overwrite what I had envisioned within my mind’s eye? Would it feel like a betrayal of the world I had just constructed in my head? But rather than compete, the two experiences felt complementary. Where Herbert's prose had left room for imagination, Villeneuve's visuals rushed in to fill the gaps. And where the film necessarily truncated Herbert's sprawling narrative, my memory of the book provided connective tissue, adding depth and resonance to each scene.

It was a dialogue between mediums, each enriching the other. The book and the film were not adversaries, but allies, co-conspirators bringing Dune to life.

In the days that followed, I found myself returning to both experiences, toggling between them in my mind. A line from the book would surface, and suddenly a scene from the film would gain new significance. A visual from the movie would linger, and a passage from the novel would seem to shimmer with added meaning. Fundamentally, the two works were speaking to each other, enriching one another, forming a kind of stereoscopic vision.

Great fiction creates a universe that is not just immersive, but porous. It seeps into your thoughts, colors your perceptions, becomes a lens through which you view your own reality.

Now I have to find time to watch Part Two.

That's all for now,

From the present moment,

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