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If you’ve wondered why I’ve been unusually silent for the past week and a half, I have a very good reason. I was on vacation.

In Machu Picchu!

And while I was there—and at the fortress at Ollantaytambo, and by Intipunku, the Sun Gate (from which you can, below, see Machu Picchu way off in the distance)—I oddly found myself thinking The Great Gatsby.

I’ll have more to share about the experience later, once I’ve recovered and had time to process it all, but for now, I just want to say—remember that passage a few paragraphs from the end of The Great Gatsby, the section that speaks of finally finding a thing “commensurate to his capacity for wonder”?

And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

Though the analogy made there isn’t an exact match for what I felt as I clambered over the ancient stones and walked the Inca Trail, I was indeed feeling a sense of wonder, and also feeling that here was something truly worthy of that wonder. We so often say that things are awe-inspiring when they’re not really inspiring awe. But in this case, I was filled with awe, positively gobsmacked by it.

Didn’t expect to be thinking of Jay Gatsby as I fought off altitude sickness. But there you have it.

More thoughts and pics to follow later!

(And, yes, that is a ukulele in my hands.)

Originally published at Scott Edelman. You can comment here or there.

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