the life you were born to live by dan millman

Have you read the book, The Life You Were Born To Live by Dan Millman?

When we bought it, it became an instant success in the family, and also with visitors who came to our apartment. I know they enjoyed the book because there would usually be a phone call a day or two later saying, “I was at the bookstore and picked up that book we were looking at a few days ago.”

What is the book’s appeal besides being entertaining? Because entertaining is not a good enough reason in this instance. So why do people go out and buy it soon after spending a few hours with it? Maybe because the book, the “Life Purpose System,” gently guides. It doesn’t dictate, or get you into a dark mood because it’s complicated and heavy. Rather it suggests and informs. The words, and what they’re expressing, grab the reader. You see a quizzical expression, a smile, a nod, an agreement from the one reading.

I’m not the best person to point to why a book is good reading, or why it isn’t. Every word that’s written about a book, person, movie, restaurant, or place is just someone else’s opinion. And because it’s an opinion, one opinion is as good as another. Perhaps this opinion will bring you to a bookstore. Perhaps it won’t.

And so it goes.


I met many savvy travelers of all ages, professions, and personalities last year in Ecuador. It’s a little country where there’s so much exploring to do. I don’t know why people say, “Ecuador? You went to Ecuador? Why?” I want to say, “Go and you will find out. ” However, I don’t know why Ecuador. Why any country?

Quito, the capital, has what every big, wonderful, high-energy city has – museums, fine restaurants, a good transportation system, many clean hostals run by friendly people, hotels with all the amenities, excellent shopping, beautiful parks, magnificent churches, great walking neighborhoods, galleries, etc. Neighborhoods to stay away from and neighborhoods for strolling. Don’t let the armed guards fool you. The situation is not as it looks. The guidebooks say beware of crime. They also say that about Manhattan where I am at the moment.

It was early evening when the plane landed in Quito. The airport is small and clean and uniformed employees direct everyone to the exist. Cafe Cultura was on my list of places to stay, and I needed to call to reserve a room. I experienced a few sweaty moments attempting to use the phone and then the nearby attendant came to help. Cafe Cultura had a room . The brochure in my room said it’s owned by an Norwegian. It was charming and friendly. In Ecuador it’s easy to find places to stay for $10 and they’re really okay places, but I find staying at a really feel- good place the first few nights in a foreign country is important. The location was perfect. After three days, I reserved a room at La Casa Sol to be in a different location . I walked, and walked to get a feel for Quito. My idea was to not stay long in a big city, but to return there before leaving for the States.

It was time to visit Cuenca, a beautiful colonial city in the southern part of Ecuador. My book said that in 1999 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site. The lovely people at La Casa Sol, realizing I had neglected to learn their language, offered to make a reservation for me at Hotel Inca Real in Cuenca. The Hotel was once a private residence. It was quaint and lovely. The rooms were surrounded by a courtyard. Courtyards play a prominent role in many structures. Most are beautiful and tranquil. The people working at the hotel had an old-fashioned reserve in their manner. They were always extremely gracious to the foreigner who only spoke English. It was almost painful for me to watch their expression every time I approached the desk.

Cuenca has its share of foreigners who have set up busineses, are studying Spanish, or simply enjoying a different culture for a few months. There are many beautiful old churches and parks, outdoor markets, small stores for shopping, and restaurants where you can get a good meal. On Sunday it’s practically a ghost town as natives and tourists alike take off to visit the surrounding areas.

I’d been in Cuenca for a few weeks when it occurred to me to do something about the daily frustration of not knowing Spanish. I enrolled at the Abraham Lincoln on Borrero 5-18. Admittedly, I was not the best student there, but learned enough words to enliven the time I’d be in Ecuador. Once you study the design of the city, Cuenca is small enough to get around easily by foot. The streets are named after historical persons or events and, at first, it was rather dizzying trying to read the map.

After six weeks, it was time to say goodbye. Goodbye to the wonderful big market where I bought all my fruits and vegetables negotiating prices in Spanish, the Austria Cafe, Raymipampa, Plaza Rotary, lunch at El Maiz and Moliendo Cafe, Culture Aborigenes, Musea de las Culturas, San Francisco Market for sweaters, shawls and hammocks, Museo de las Conceptas for delicious pastries made by the few nuns still remaining in the historic convent, Museo del Banco Central, so many places, so much delicious ice cream, and some very wonderful people. But, alas, I grabbed my Panama hat and took a bus to . . .

A place in a valley in southern Ecuador called Vilcabamba.

zabar’s and the apartment hunt

It’s a hot Monday. And a humid one. I promised to help someone find an apartment within the next six weeks. And so I will; I think. Manhattan in the summer with its concrete and crowds can be trying, but with its cafes it’s quite tolerable. The upper west side where I am now has many small interesting shops and really good eating places. The trick today is to focus on looking for an apartment and not fall into any shops. I watch one man walking pass me dressed in a suit jacket. He’s fading fast.

After a sixteen block walk, my shirt is soaked from the humidity, so I slip into Zabar’s at 2245 Broadway @ 80th Street, and buy a “$4.98 Pastrami on classic rye, mustard, and mayonnaise on the side, a pickle and 70 years of experience.” That’s what the wrapper of my sandwich says. It also states, “New York is Zabar’s Zabar’s is New York” I linger a bit before purchasing the sandwich letting the air conditioning revive me. I think, yes, Zabar’s truly does belong to New York. Its customers know how to shove their way into any area to get what they want, and the cashiers give the customers a touch of service and no more. It’s all all right because where food is concerned, Zabar’s does it right.

I decide to not eat at Zabar’s corner cafe. I walk to 86th Street, then stroll east at Broadway checking in with the doormen along the way to inquire about apartments. The first doorman tells me that the rent begins around $2800 a month for a studio. I tell him that I will think about that. (Laughter is good for the heart. And now I have something really funny to laugh about when I get back to where I’m staying). After speaking to a few more doormen, I walk to Central Park and find a solitary bench where there is not much foot traffic. I open the wrapper and eat the pastrami sandwich. It’s tasty, but the sweat dripping down my back forces me to vacate my bench immediately after eating.

I walk west again on 86th Street and realize that I’m going nowhere fast. There’s a Starbucks on Columbus Ave and 86th Street. I open the door, and true to form, most of the customers have either a book, newspaper, computer or pen and paper in front of them. I buy a San Pellegrino water. I’ll be out the door in ten minutes, I promise myself as I sit at the one table left. It feels so good to be right where I am.

I hope that whatever you’re doing, you’re absolutely fine, too.