Doing nothing

There is something wonderful and terrible about doing nothing. I’ve been traveling too much, doing too much, and there is a flu going around, and it has all been exhausting. It was all wonderful, but that broke as soon as I made it back to Georgia.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with being here, but the transmission on my car died the first day I was here, so my ability to travel has been limited. So, mostly, I have done nothing. I’ve slept, played with my nephews, talked with my sister, and worked around the house. I put up the hammock in the back yard, harrassed the dogs, practiced Chinese, and slept. I was tied a few days, sick a few, and now I’m balancing out just in time for Easter.

I’ve taken a lot of naps, I’ve watched too much tv, and I started eating the foods that I’ve been missing. Georgia is home for now, like so many places before it, and I’ll settle in the best I can. It’s been good, and, in a way, exactly what I needed. I would have liked to work in Taiwan for a couple more months, but I’ve never really connected with my family before, by choice as much as anything. I isolate, and I look for people beyond those who are familiar. It’s what has made traveling the world possible, the disconnect from the life I might have had.

If I had followed the path I had set ten years ago, I would be on a military base somewhere, probably with a child or two. My brother and sister both have kids around the same ages, and it would have been fun to be a part of that. I’m not surprised that path ended where it did, or how, but I still wonder about the meaning I would have found in that life. Life is suffering, but whether that suffering has meaning is entirely up to us.

That’s why I travel the way I do, to find meaning, more than a vacation could ever provide. I live where I am, in whatever place that might be, for a month, or a year, but never really wanting that feeling of just passing through. Life could be so much easier if I could stop looking for more, but I’m pretty sure I would die long before I reached my grave.

Georgia is beautiful in the spring. Everything is alive and newly green, the days are warm and the nights are cold. I’m north of Atlanta, in the middle of a suburban forest. Just off any main road you can find tall, thin, amazingly green trees. Once you’re out of site you can barely hear the roads, the forest blocking the sound as it does the light. I can hear the beginning of baseball season in the park on the weekend as I relax in my hammock in the afternoon sun.

There are parks, forests, and lakes everywhere, filled with ruins of battlefields and old mills from the time of the colonies. There are still traces of the civilizations that came before, and the endless beauty of the waterfalls and rivers within a could hours of here. There are a lot of places I hope to see, but I have no schedule, no alarm, and no place I need to be.

I have a couple months until I leave for China. I received my final medical clearance, so now there is nothing to do but wait. I’ll fill the hours with practice, rest, talk, and too much tv, but really, for now, I’m doing nothing.

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Letting Go

It’s been a long couple of weeks. In a way, I did too much too fast, but I could feel time running out on me. There were a couple days I relaxed, and went to the beach, but most days were a whirlwind of food, friends, and all the emotional chaos that comes with reconnecting to my past.

It’s as hard for me to look back as it is to look forward. I have a pretty good idea of who I am at this point, but I don’t really know who I was or who I will be. Looking back is often more depressing than joyful, because of what I’ve lost as much as because of my failings. I never really got around to looking forward, because of a half assed nihilism as much as a fear that all my plans would fall apart.

Looking back, I wonder about what was as nerdily as I can, through the possibility of time travel. In general, I wouldn’t want to because I couldn’t live my life as who I am now, and I would lose too many important memories. I’d rather nothing changed than to lose those fragments of my life. I wonder though, could I even try to live that life, lying to everyone about who I am, having to deal with people without judging them for what they would do. And what if I stopped them? If you stop a man from killing, is he still guilty? Did he hold the intent, and the will? Will he try to do it again?

I think of the relationships I’ve had, and how much love and pain is a part of all of them. Can you have one without the other? The yin and the yang, not dark and light but just dual energy, existing together and mixing with one another. Pain is no less valuable than joy unless the balance is not right.

The last two days I was in San Diego, I spent one day sleeping and watching Netflix. I went to the beach alone, wished I had brought my camera, and fought against the six foot waves. The next day I spent five hours with the Dancer, two with Cabineter, stopped by the herb shop for dinner and dirty jokes, trained in Wing Chun for a couple hours, drove up to see the Herald, then went to see Ghost in the Shell with the Peon. I loved every stressful minute of it, and I didn’t want any of those conversations to end.

I wanted the life I had left behind before I left for Mexico. I wanted the love and pain that was so comfortable to be mine again. I abandoned that life to find a new place in the world, to escape the ordinary and become… I don’t know. Something? Nothing? Someone amazing, glorious, or special? To find a life of meaning?

I don’t really know why I left in the end. I know it made sense then, and I know I am happier now than I was then, but I will never really know what caused the misery or the joy. I don’t think it was the people, and there are a few I find myself trying to cling to. To be honest, I think I was trying to cling to all of them.

My time is short, and in a couple months I will be in another world, one I can’t really imagine yet. I don’t know what I’ll become, or what the pain and joy will be, but I can remember the importance of balance. Hell has not seen, nor Heaven created, the one who can prevail against me.

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De Mi Corazón

The trip to Mexico was as much external as it was internal, filled with beautiful people and places. One of the first places I went was Teatro Degollado with Castle. Every time I went while I lived in Guadalajara it seemed to be closed. There were no plays this week, but I was able to go inside and see the old European style of the playhouse. It was like something pulled from a movie, to incredible to be real.

After that we went to visit his friend, the man in charge of maintaining the historical buildings in El Centro. The government offices were in an old monastery with a massive open courtyard in the center. He took us to the old library, filled with the smell of books and old wood. I love that smell, a thousand books aging together. The wood carvings were simple, but they fit the room perfectly, from the double stairway to the wooden ceiling. We finished by climbing up to the roof, looking down on the churches and schools of downtown. There is something wonderful about going behind locked doors and finding the beauty that is there.

I got to see spring at UVM, the university where Castle studies. I lived in Guadalajara for a year and I don’t remember it ever being this colorful.

There’s an awesome artist corner that usually opens up on Saturdays, but it wasn’ t there when I went to Chapulapec after breakfast with Villa. The life was still there, and the beauty, people walking, riding, taking photos, or relaxing in the sun. It was my favorite place in the city, always humming with life. I was lucky to have lived so close to it.

I spent a couple days in Zacatecas with the Diplomat. The city feels old, like it belongs in the colonial area, even if the people don’t. At Museo Rafael Coronel there was what looked like a graduation photo day. The guys were off somewhere else in the massive, ancient building and gardens while the girls had their pictures taken near the entrance. Everyone was well dressed, in vibrant colors, gowns, or suits with ties. It’s hard to find a place in Zacatecas that isn’t beautiful, but I understand why they would choose the gardens and ruins in the middle of spring.

We ate, hit the museums, saw the top of Cerra de Bufa at night, and wandered the city. I will never understand humanity’s laziness, though. In the midst of beauty, there is trash. Shouting into a well to hear the echo we saw plastic bottles and bags. A corncob in the fountain, and trash on every street. Zacatecas is clean in comparision to Guadalajara, but there is still that show of apathy and disrespect that contrast the colonial buildings and cobblestone streets.

Anywhere in Mexico the museums are incredible. Some of them are themed, like the Don Quixote museum of Guanajuato, one of my favorites, but most are filled with a mix of exhibits. They usually have something local, from the colonial era or from the civilizations before, but the rest can be anything and everything. Museo Rafael Coronal had masks from all over the world of every make and material, some funny, some fascinating. There was one that looked like someone with elephantitis, half the mask covered in ropes and the face a bit distorted. I wonder if they saw power in that condition, like the people who worship them in India.

We went to the abandoned ancient fortress city of La Quemada. It survived for a long time, growing and prospering when water and food was abundant. There were hundreds of human sacrifices found in small pits on the site, and the city was built for giants rather than men. In the end it was burned to the ground and the people left it to the sands. About half of it has been unearthed and repaired, and the muted browns are beautiful against the stark blue of the sky at that altitude, and there are signs of life everywhere, from cows and snakes to the birds in the sky.

Every time I think back to where I went, to conversations I had, and to who I saw there is a good memory. Sparring in the old studio with Castle and the Fighters, eating and laughing with them afterwards. Teachers I hadn’t seen in years, amazing meals, random encounters, and always something wonderful to behold. There are so many people I didn’t get to see, so many things left to do. I think I will always love Mexico in a way I may never love another place on Earth. Estoy guero, pero mi corazón está Mexicano.

 

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A Donkey of Wine

This is the hardest vacation I’ve ever been on, a glorious ride of food, friends, and trips. I’ve been to the tops of ancient ruins, into the depths of a silver mine, I’ve eaten at a dozen familiar places, and a few new wonderful ones. I’ve laughed harder than I have in years, and fought in a way I deeply missed. It’s wonderful, exhausting, and filled with meaning that I never realized was there.

I have spent my life on the fringe, mostly because I preferred it there. The people are fascinating and there is something of pride to being an outside, to being special in a way people inside the more common popular social circles couldn’t understand.

I still enjoy the fringe, I mean, as much as most people want to travel, few take the path that I have chosen. But there is something of a connection that I didn’t realize was there. On the fringe in my own society, I can disappear from a place, and it might be noticed or not. When I am the foreigner, it is noticed, in a way I love and dread.

There are so many people to see, and so many people that I haven’t gotten a chance to see. People who meant a lot to me, but I wasn’t able to find when I was free. I could have stayed in Mexico another week and it might have been enough to see them all, but then again maybe not. I wouldn’t trade what I had these last two weeks for the world, and for the first time I can remember, it’s not enough.

I went down to Zacatecas with the Diplomat, and we wandered the city for two days, from the abandoned cyclopean city at La Quemada, to the Puebla Majica Jerez, and all throughout the Spanish colonial buildings, churches, and museums. They have a tradition there, he told me, of the wine donkey. It is exactly what it sounds like, a donkey carrying jugs of wine following you as you walk through the city.

A donkey of wine seemed to be the equivalent of two five gallon jugs, but I’m guessing you could get a couple more on there for a price. There was a man there serving drinks out of the jugs to people who stopped by. I think my favorite part was that you could hire the donkey and wander through the city making friends with anyone who wanted a drink. Apparently, it would turn into a parade of drunks, music, and celebration following you and your donkey through the street.

In a way that is my goal, to spread that kind of joy and cheer down the street as I pass by. To connect and make friends as easy as if I always had a donkey of wine following me down the street. The other part of me hates that idea. I need time to process, to relax, and to be alone with my thoughts. It doesn’t matter if other people are there, I just need to turn inward after a while, to center myself and just be.

Finding that time when I know I have to leave so soon is hard. Every moment I stop and wait is time away from the people I care about. I know I’ll have time to process when I get to Atlanta, but I need balance in my life, and preparing for the future is not an easy thing to do. I know I won’t have time to do everything I want to, much less energy, but that is the perfect parallel to life. There is always more to do, something else to complete, but when our time is over, we bow and leave the stage. I move on as gracefully as I can, knowing there is as much before me as there is behind.

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