Rotary Minute: Sarah Hill – August 13, 2018

Sarah Hill delivered the invocation and Rotary Minute. Here are both below.

At this time of year when travel is common, travel will be the subject of my invocation and Rotary minute.

Let’s reflect, with eyes open or closed.

Let’s invoke memories experienced away from home.

Think of times when you traveled and experienced great joy due to the companionship of special people or the grandeur of nature.  Can you sense the presence of those people? Can you still feel or smell fresh mountain air? hear waves? feel the joy of floating or swimming in an ocean or lake?

Travel experiences can be powerful.  They can be times of joy and renewal.  It’s also possible travel can bring discontentment.  We might think: I could live here!  Life would be better!

Travel eventually ends.  You return home.  You no longer have the excitement, the new, the adventures, the relief of shedding routine responsibilities.  But at home we often find something greater.  It is at home where we thrive through our routines and our relationships and do the work we are here to do.  Often the best part of travel is the joy of coming home.

Please be seated.

And for our Rotary Minute (which will actually be a Rotary three or four minutes), I’ll read a few passages from one of my favorite books, “The Art of Travel” by the popular author and philosopher Alain de Botton.  It’s not a travel guide.  You might call it a life guide.  I suppose it is It’s philosophy lite, but whatever it is, it is a wonderful bible of sorts for me. I will also mention a personal, Rotary-related travel experience.

About art which many of us travel to see, de Botton says:

Art cannot single-handedly create enthusiasm, nor does it arise from sentiments of which non-artists are devoid; it merely contributes to enthusiasm and guides us to be more conscious of feelings that we might previously have experienced only tentatively or hurriedly.

About traveling to seek beauty, he says:

We can see beauty well enough just by opening our eyes, but how long this beauty will survive in memory depends on how intentionally we have apprehended it.

With buying souvenirs and taking photographs in mind he says:

A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold onto it, to possess it and give it weight in one’s life.  There is an urge to say, “I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.” 

Regarding solo travel he says:

It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially molded by whom we are with, we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others…Being closely observed by a companion can inhibit us from observing others; we become taken up with adjusting ourselves to the companion’s questions and remarks, we have to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.

About traveling to flee our surroundings:

The longing provoked by the brochure was an example, at once touching and pathetic, of how … and I skip over a bit here … whole lives might be influenced by the simplest and most unexamined images of happiness; of how a lengthy and ruinously expensive journey might be set in motion by nothing more than a photograph of a palm tree gently inclining in a tropical breeze.

I chuckled over his tales about a trip to Barbados where he found himself hot, bothered, uncomfortable with island food and bickering with his companion:

“A momentous but until then overlooked fact was making itself apparent: I had inadvertently brought myself with me to the island!

That passage reminds me of a phrase I love and which is important for me to remember when I get the travel bug: wherever you go, there you are.

In reference to getting used to our surroundings and ceasing to see with imagination and wonder he says:

“They had fallen into the habit of considering their universe to be boring – and their universe had duly fallen into line with their expectations. 

He uses the words “sublime places” to refer to places of great natural beauty.  A sublime-place experience of mine began in 1968 when my parents, brother and I traveled to Cambridge England for my father to do academic research.  We stayed in a house he had known from his days studying at Cambridge University in the early 1950s while on a Rotary scholarship!  One day we walked a mile or two along the Cam river from town to a small establishment in the woods where afternoon tea was served outside in an apple orchard.  In addition to many great British authors over a century or more, he had been there in the 50s and loved it.  This sublime place surfaced in my memory a few years ago.  Of course I looked it up on the interwebs and I am thrilled to say it is still there and tea is still served in the orchard.  I will go again sometime – it’s high on my list — and to some extent will have Rotary to thank.

Happy trails!


  1. Robert Gutman says:


    Thanks for the log in info to find the membership. But i cannot find the navigagtion to the place to log in. Can you send the link please? Thanks


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