a lifetime of humbling experiences.
05/05/2011 § Leave a comment
Sometimes it feels like life has been long lived and once you step away from what was do you recognize all that could be.
Yesterday, I had a friend return from her home town in the United States. She told me of whirling around at festivals dancing with her pops. She told me of a love restored. She told me she cried like no other when she was getting on the plane to come back to Buenos Aires.
“It’s always good to love home.”
Home is a funny place that is distilled with memories and time. Last year, I kept one foot at home and was unable to fully extend myself to actually be in another place. It was scary to experience something utterly foreign when one feels whittled down to just one foot. Every action has no consequence except to the damage of one’s good foot and you begin to hop between places, never planting two into the earth. I could get utterly wasted and suffer my own demise. It led to a place of self-destruction because, heck, there’s nothing keeping you from not doing so. Or, so I thought..
“If you want to be selfish, go live on a mountain.”
So, I did. I travelled South to Patagonia where I heard there were some mountains. Big ones. Ones that are big and bold and cold. As much as I craved isolation, to be a person of solitude, I kept coming into contact with people. People who wanted to experience something grand with one another. But it wasn’t what I wanted, I wanted to do it on my own.
“Why did you feel like you had to do it on your own, little b?”
I could not tell you an answer that I do not remember asking the question for. I suppose I never felt like I had done anything on my own before. Nothing of my own volition, always a change with a catalyst involved. Moving cities or getting jobs or meeting people had always been through a catalyst of sorts.
And then, I realized that nothing is created from nothing. There is no primordial soup to life, but a series of events and interactions that we choose to walk along or fail to recognize. Humans interact with places, people and things and it is through this that life unfolds in all its wonders.
I have had conversations with many people about the flow of things and how that flow forever seems to be entertaining and precise. If certain things had not occurred, there would have been no way to live that life which we do. Things always evolve in an unforeseen matter.
I remember reading somewhere about Buddhists and spiritual-ness (obviously, as hippies go). I don’t remember being cynical, but I was curious. I tripped on one metaphor of life: “Enlightenment occurs when you are able to sit atop a mountain and recognize that there is something greater than yourself. Then you climb back down.” (Hi ho, hi ho…)
There were two guys from San Francisco staying here who had spent 3 months in the mountains and we talked about what a trip it was to return to one of the largest cities in the world:
Mountaineers & I:
“Those mountains, they are something. I got dizzy when I stepped off the bus in Buenos Aires and everything was so busy. Everything was fast.”
“Yes, I remember that feeling.”
And then I remember everything going black, stepping into a whirl-pool of a black hole.
Last year, arriving at Union Station in Toronto I remember sitting on a sewer grate watching the people run by in suits and talking on cell phones and wondering if they were happy, always hoping they were. And then, you get sucked in because all you want to do is work really hard to get back to a tranquility that one had forgotten. You want to find peace in something, to experience a slow time because you have been too high for too long. You decide you want to experience a place that you once only got to see.
The other day at a friend’s house:
“You know, I’m not sure if you are coming back, but I am happy that you seem to have found your peace.”
“Yeah, man. It feels good to get to know this place. To see the culture, interact with the people, question the politics and try new things. I am finally back to being me.”
Somehow, life has told me to slow down, just a little, and remember why I love napping so much.
The truth is, it wasn’t the mountain that I saw or stood atop. It wasn’t the new country and new language and new culture that I am very grateful to have experienced. It was the people. It always has been and it always will be.
Talking with C:
“When I go to a place, it’s not the place that I am curious about, but the people. Staying here at the hostel has been one of the most interesting experiences of my life because I meet such fascinating people. I feel truly blessed.”
And blessed she should feel and fortunate do I feel for having met a lady of grandeur such as her wonderful self (even though she knows it but doesn’t realize it quite yet).
This time around, in Buenos Aires, I did not live in a fancy loft with a rooftop terrace. I did not eat out everyday or have the opportunity to buy new shoes. In fact, it has been quite the opposite and how glorious has it been. There were days that I didn’t shower, that I didn’t eat. Days that I boiled rice into a mash that would last until the next. Days spent cooking steak and sharing morsels with friends and wanderers. All because none of that other stuff mattered and we just wanted to be near one another. We fed off each other’s stories over tea and wine. We shared memories of family and our past and our cultural upbringing (now, everyone in the hostel thinks there are unicorns in Canada. I did not correct them, rather told them that the unicorns harvest sap and churn it into liquid gold).
There have also been moments when a South African, an Argentine, a Chilean, three Mexicans, a German and a Canadian sat around eating sushi talking about our lives and astrological signs. We cheers-ed to that.
So, what is travel for me? Human interaction. As I have always believed, this force usually leads to understanding as long as one is open and willing to learn. I even had the fairest compliment the other day when I was explaining the Canadian socio-eco-political system:
“I never knew Canada was so interesting.”
Truth was, neither did I. No one really does and like a humble place, you cannot know its story until you ask about it or have someone explain it to you. As far as realizations go, it was not until I took a full two-steps away from it, twirled around and took a good look at it, as though it were from a Great 7 painting, that I got to see it as a whole picture. And yes, if you look in the corners, I am sure you can see a little unicorn prancing around.