Below is a letter I’ve written to Mandy Moore. Yes, as in the pop star, film star, magazine cover girl, wife of rock star, Mandy Moore. This is it the way I’d intended to present it to her, had I not put myself in the role of her “screener” and imagined what I would do were I to open a letter like this amongst five billion other pieces of fan mail. Well I’d probably chunk it. So, because I lost my nerve, I’m posting it here.
Dear Ms. Moore,
In the advent of indirectly stolen magazines (my sister from the “Nail Boutique” in Magnolia, TX and I from my sister) I had the pleasure of reading pages forty-nine through fifty-two of the January 2010 edition of Shape magazine. In these pages you bravely listed your New Years resolution to inspire the readers. I’m writing to offer some ideas on tackling items no. 4, 5, 6, and 8 (Learn Something New, Step out of your comfort zone, Take a break from Email and, mostly, Go on a REAL vacation, respectively.) What’s more is I’m offering to help you accomplish all of these things with one blow, like the tailor and the giants.
My name is Paige Moore and as far as I know we don’t have any immediate relations but that’s not really the point. I have a knack for coming up with unique ideas specific to travelers and have launched my own chapter of a larger company lovingly named “Travelµuse.”
To be direct, I wondered if you would consider Greece among your listed destinations which I notice share the themes of ancient, mystical places and gorgeous scenery. You’ll be astounded by how much of that you can find here, most of it still relatively unnoticed by the world even if Greece has become thought of as a common place to be a tourist. The tourists have not explored her ancient caves where you still find offerings to the nymphs, or sat alone on the island of Alonissos, in a village that is quite difficult to get to even if it’s in a country smaller than the state of Alabama. So think, dream, remember that artists such as Leonard Cohen, Lord Byron and Henry Miller have found their muse here. I predict the same would happen for you.
I kept it short because I thought it had more liklihood of being read, and professional on the off chance she was already maybe considering a trip to Greece. It's not very inspired, though, and I know when I've written something really convincing and when I should let it simmer on the stove for a few more hours or toss it out of the window all together. No, I'm not looking for encouragement to return to the idea of writing to Mandy Moore, there is a deeper point to this.
What I really want is the chance to build something, an experience, for a person who has an open mind and who is out to dig deeper into this mighty world of ours. If I was in Arizona, I would ask her to come there. If I was in Mongolia, or Magolia, likewise. (Maybe not Magnolia, but I like how if you read either Mongolia OR Magnolia you might get these two very extreme locations confused.)
I happen to be in Greece which, lucky for me, is a place a lot of people dream about seeing, one day. My problem is that they all want to see what everyone else has seen and there are more than I realized that don't particularly enjoy stepping outside of the bus, let alone their comfort zone. What on earth would they say if I handed them all post it notes and told them to write a wish and leave it on Areopagus Hill? It would take one group to say "no thanks" and my frail little ego would assume it had been a stupid idea, which, writing here in my "safety zone" I know perfectly well it is a brilliant idea and the only thing stupid about it is the idea of refusing to do it.
If I were someone like Mandy Moore, someone who spends every day being in the consciousness of people around the world, her entire life exposed, and IF I wanted to “break out of my comfort zone” (I would imagine the comfort zone of a successful star like Mandy Moore is about 500% more comfortable than most of ours) I would implement the travel philosophy of the author of The Art of Travel whose name I do not have handy as I am writing without access to St. Google, St. Wiki.
This man believes that you should not travel before you’ve acquired a certain hunger for the destination. It makes sense, like not eating before you have an appetite. Don’t just jump on a plane for the hell of it; have an idea of where you want to go and why. He thinks it’s a shame that modern travel has enabled this more casual approach to a journey, because it’s cheap, relatively quick and easy, because everyone has been there and is talking about it, because they saw it on TV...
He went on about how much he would love a travel agent who would put together some really offbeat things for him. Watching a business meeting or stacking cargo on ships were two examples he gave as activities that might help him understand the country he’s touring as opposed to being confined to the museums and protected sites that tourists typically adhere to.
Dear Universe, please, please send me some travelers like this!! Let me flex my creative muscles and draw misshapen circles with rabbit ears in their itineraries.
And when they come, let them pay me well so I can go out in the world and do the same! I’ve still got so much I want to see. Just because I’m hanging out on one stoop doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to hop off and pal about the neighborhood a spell, see what folks are up to these days.