I keep finding myself in the middle of adjusting. After weeks of work and study, weekends in the mountains, and a severe lack of time to do much of anything, I suddenly have time. Minimal work, a lot of people on vacation, and a few weekends with little to do. It’s nice to relax, but it always feels like I should be doing something.
I’ll be back in the States in a few months, probably in the middle of a long trip home. I have a direction, but no real plan yet. A lot of my solid plans are just things I want to eat. San Francisco style Chinese food. A good deli sandwich. Carne asada fries and burgers in San Diego. Rotisserie chicken, tacos, and chicharones in Mexico. Real milk and cereal. All the things I pushed to the back of my mind because they simply don’t exist here. You can get close, but it’s never exactly what I want.
I have people to see, more than a few things to learn, and hopefully something worth teaching. I always wonder about the value of what I learn. I had to come out here to really find it, but there is a reason it doesn’t exist back home. Sometimes it isn’t needed. Sometimes it’s not wanted. It’s easier to live in our worlds and forget what might be outside. We see what we expect to see, and ignore anything outside that.
How do you make this lifestyle, this learning process, have value back in a world where these ideas and cultural influences don’t exist? The conflict between what is within and what comes from the outside. It’s like our bodies. We only accept what is known and familiar. Anything outside that range is attacked or denied. Comfort is a dangerous thing.
I don’t really know that it is a bad thing, to exist in our world. I like to believe that travel and experience make people better, but I don’t really know. I have seen plenty of people out here who are just as closed minded as people back home. I think it’s more about being open to the possibilities of life, whether you travel or not. A mountain is just another place. People are what make the difference.
If you want to be alone in your contemplations, that can be done anywhere. You can find a place to meditate anywhere, with a little practice. The monks and hermits of old would leave society to find something alone because it’s too easy to be lazy when there is so much comfort around. It’s not impossible, just like it’s not impossible to buy something healthy at seven eleven. It’s just not likely you’ll buy the banana rather than the Doritos.
The idea of comfort has always been strange to me. I was never really comfortable back home. It was familiar. It was easy to keep going. But it was always depressing and painful. It was only when I became uncomfortable that I was happy, when I started moving beyond what was familiar.
Maybe, for me, coming out here was inevitable. The continuation of a kind of self-destruction. A way to really become separate from all that was familiar for so long. There is a lot I miss, and a lot I have missed. A lot of people have been born since I went away, to family and friends. More will come, and I will still be gone.
I can’t ever really justify that. Not being home for holidays, birthdays, joy, and pain. There is no way to say that all of it isn’t as important to me as being in a place filled with strangers, in a language I don’t really speak, and in many ways alone.
Love, beyond all else, is presence. Distance kills love faster than anything. I can love an idea of home, but the reality is separated from me. I love my idea of that life. If I loved that life I would be there. I don’t. I love this life. I love being tested. I love not knowing what is next. I love the pain that hits me almost daily, the pain I would never feel back in the world of comfortable order. I love what I do, and where I am. I love the idea of it as much as the reality.
I will be back soon, and that is always hard. To walk across the sands of the past and see what might have been. But, if I never look back I can’t see how far I’ve come.