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Posts Tagged ‘alienation’

abandoned journey?

Staying here i have abandoned my path – the heaviness and sluggishness have now set in; it seemed a calm, but now that the intensity is gone, a deadness looms inside. I retreat and hide away, no longer engage with the energies of place, no longer feel them, at least consciously. But i know that i do, and that they have become a part of me – they have won. My world becomes small; i become small. My world the hostel – i cook some, gain weight, feel overwhelmed by the endless chatter or pratter of some, not part of “the group” to whom i cannot relate – big dominant personalities, so i shrink away to my room, my bed, hide behind the computer screen, and now so much of my life on line – a place where i engage much more than before – reach out- but again on the outside. I crave that intensity and passion, some glee that drives me out of bed in the morning, that gets me moving, but instead i find diversions to fill my day – sometimes. and i remember this feeling, the place where i have spent so much time, not in the physical world per se, but inside – that place that says this is it, this is all it is supposed to be, why can’t you be like the rest, get off on what they do – but i cannot – for how long did i try, and then, as now, for how long did i merely resist, still not engaging in what calls me forth, and as i do not feed that light, it slips away and i no longer know what it is. Has it died or has it just been buried inside? At times i feel like maybe some of the harsh edge is fading, that a softness is shining through, but where is the edge in the positive that makes me more than a lump.

It is not merely this physical place where i am – the return to hostel zone – the place where i said i would not go back to, but something drove me here – for although many drive me nuts and i am on the outside, i do interact with people more, and it was years ago in hostels where it first began. And here i have been allowed to stay, not pushed out, as it has been in so many locales. Why is it that these very places where i feel dead, are the same ones where i can stay. Is it because i dared not live? Or is it in the quiet times, that something slowly grows inside, a transformation that is imperceptible to me, but when i look back that is where it occurred.

Is it November, the coming of winter, people huddle in, the trees have dropped their leaves in all their splendour, and reveal their nakedness. The days are darker; so much less light revealed. but no, i have felt it in these zones at other times – but the late fall has also been a time of retreat.

But it is also the place – not only here – but others like this – that i stop in locales where i do not see me staying, do not see a way to bloom that is me. I went to a tree lighting in a square – heard about it through another, but like so much with events here, the information is hard to find; it was small, subdued, and without passion so it seemed, that restricted feeling that comes with salt lake – of nice streets and clean, but that does not know how to do festivals and events. i walk through temple square, so beautiful and lit up in a multitude of colours; it made me smile as i made my way through the conservative well dressed crowd, but again i felt something press down through the choral music in the air. But i ventured out a little bit; for a moment felt less sluggish then returned with an empty evening ahead of me.

The sluggishness is here – and has taken over – reminds me of beaconsfield and toronto with my dad; the two cities, montreal and toronto are grand, but when i have been back i have felt this emptiness and deadness grow; i thought it had gone away but it has returned. And it is that feeling of having given up once again, of supposing to be someone i am not, of neither understanding nor fitting into the mainstream, but of feeling that is what i am supposed to do – get along, fit in, carve off the corners of my star to fit into the square hole, and kill that part of me that is unique and different, that walks to a different beat, that provides the spark and light that can shine – and i feel her dying inside. And how to move beyond that deepest most primal feeling that she is unacceptable and that who she is is wrong, that if only she were fixed somehow, that she would be allowed to dance. And while i dance with her sometimes, there is that feeling that i must put her aside; her music is different than what others feel and she cannot dance to the canned dancehall pop (and when it comes to literal dancing this is so true – i move and shine to the more offbeat tunes that so many “struggle with” and remain stiff or go through unfelt motions when if comes to many of the popular tunes when the floor comes alive and fills up – but at least when it comes to dancing i am now ok with that)

Maybe that is why i have been stuck here – a stuckedness i brought on myself – to learn to own this and to shine through anyways – to accept and love that girl inside, and to feed her energy, so that she might shine through and dispel those voices that say she should be something else – to reclaim that slogan of my teens “you gotta be weird to be normal” and accept my difference as a unique shining light.

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I feel disengaged from this place and that is an action i have taken. or is it the result of actions not taken? This feeling of lifelessness is so familiar and remembered and i wonder just how much of it has to do with the place. I begin to think it has little to do with this specific place per se, for the feeling is more a result of disconnection than of anything else – of life not flowing, of it being stuck in a puddle or a large shallow lake. It is more the zone that i am in that drags me down – the zone of disconnection.

That zone is lifeless and bland where little energy flows in or out, and it is the zone where i have felt that i am supposed to be according to the designs of others and society. It is a zone without passions or strong feelings in any direction, a zone of getting through day-to-day, of going through the motions, of survival and of not truly living. It is a zone where i do not feel quite alive. i wander around without a destination; my eyes are clouded and i do not see; my ears hear little, my senses dull and my body becomes heavy to me. it has been a while (so i believe) since i have had this sinking feeling, and i know it often happens in the fall. The days are getting shorter and all around is preparing for winter – the trees will soon drop their leaves, and all turns within, slowing and shutting down, crawling inside. The harvest will soon be done, the harvest of the food and of the experiences that were set out to grow in spring.

And we crawl inside – i crawl inside – disconnected from that which is around. but it is not just the time of year. i am in a city, a leafy one yes, but still i feel cut off from nature. I see the full moon glowing above the mountains that surround, above the buildings, and i know it still affects us all, but i feel disconnected from its powers and the mountains appear as but distant scenery. i sit inside and am shut off, and yes protected to an extent, from that which is outside the walls. I sit in front of the computer and that becomes my world. i crawl into myself and the thoughts become it, and i become disconnected from my body once again.

I know what i feel is the energy of disconnection, an energy, which like all other energetic forms, feeds upon itself and grows. I see little around which calls for my engagement which fuels that sense of standing outside, but because i feel lifeless and apart, i see little to connect with. As i seek to engage with the energies of a place, that renders me lifeless, and i feel caught in a downward spiral for i do feel the energies strongly, and that which i feel is disconnection.

I wonder how much of this i brought on myself – both in terms of the ego self and that of the soul self. I was more engaged my first days here – down at temple square – visiting the centres, watching the films, seeing the buildings, talking with few of the sisters – learning about mormon history and beliefs. some of what i saw intrigued, and some felt sad, and i have not finished writing about the energies there – the gradual change from the seeking and building zion to the city and culture that now is but i felt alive. I also felt pain and confusion inside, and thus pulled away and disengaged. And before i came, i thought maybe i would stay, but as i looked i saw nothing in mainstream american life that called – the materialism and sprawl – i felt it strong, and when i thought of joining in i felt empty and my heart sunk and i was disconnected from all that and did not wish to connect. like the air i found it hard to breathe in when i first was here, so i started breathing more shallowly, shallow like the lake.

But often when if has been time to stop, i feel my heart a sinking – for i know that what i feel that i am “supposed to do” feeds it not at all, but rather than listen to what calls, i pull away and it sinks some more, and i wander lost once again. But how to engage i ask myself, for what calls is so far away. The sprawl that i see, the cars and stores, drain me and i feel that voice saying just give up, join in, do empty work that harms and feeds the cycle, consume distractions in order to fill that empty space that yearns – for something. And then i wonder, is that not what i do anyways. But i yearn for something positive to connect to.

I still can see the beauty of some of this place – like when i went up to a park and looked down at the green valley below and the mountains that surround, of when i walk the neighbourhoods of older victorian homes and trees that are starting to turn – leaves becoming orange and yellow, but what i realize is that they are but pleasant scenery for me. They are nice to walk by, and i appreciate them, but they are not what calls.

I engaged for a few days at the Family History library, doing research on my paternal side. For two days i sat there looking at census records and other documents and was in an active curious zone, I took a break and a burrito cart on the corner near the symphony, and smiled as i ate it one the grass by the fountain where the construction workers with orange vests took their breaks. I went across the street and into temple square and sat by the small fountain crowned by seagull, the state bird, and a bird i love. For a few days i felt alive, on a quest, and while engaged with an activity rather than a place.
The place caught up with me, i was sitting inside in front of a screen all day, and my body began to slump. And i wanted to connect, feel part of something larger than me and saw that was what i was doing – looking for connections back in time, but so many unanswered questions, and no connection with anyone alive that i know beyond my father, was i grappling for something that did not exist. And i knew that i was grappling for that sense of connection that eludes me so. And for a bit i felt engaged, in the moment, see now that sense of connection i had been seeking was what i was looking for. To be connected to something larger than myself and to be a part of the living world. And seeing those names upon the screen eventually led me to feel alone once again, for that is what they are to me, but name on a screen – i know that there is more there but in the end it brought back the feeling of being cut off. And in their culture, which focuses on the family, that sadness at the brokenness of my own hurts me more.

I started this yesterday, and then let it be, for it brought out a sadness in me, so i engaged in something else and disconnected from this. I will put it out and be done with it, for that sense of alienation has returned to me. that sense of alienation from society, and of not having a place to be, a place to life full and not merely survive. But in writing about that i feed the energy, and it is time to put it aside for a while. I did today, and became engaged with theories of place, but i ask myself why am i here, not merely in this city or on this couch, but on this planet earth? For i know there is a reason, there is for each of us, but i only wish i knew what my purpose was. This disconnection is also with the source, and i need to reconnect somehow. But i think it is speaking in this jumble in my mind, this jumble that is even less clearly written than this entry itself.

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trapped in salt lake

I am feeling trapped here in Salt Lake City. I had wanted to come to a created environment and now i have, a city and a sprawl. The mountains that surround do not feel like a welcoming container, but seem to hold me in. I feel my body slipping away to a remembered place of weakness though i have never been to this particular city before. I disengage and therefore weaken myself, energy neither flowing in or out, but there is little around that captures my attention, that calls for connection. to put down roots and grow i said, but rather than being nurtured, i feel like i am shrivelling up. To free myself i say, but all else seems so far away.

The city is an oasis in the middle of the desert. what surrounds does not call; it is harsh and stark. A city is a created environment, a transformation of space, and here when i am in the leafy neighborhoods, or overlooking the town, i see an oasis of green. Often when i am in a city i seek out the nature that surrounds; but here it seems that the most pleasant natural elements are contained within. now, once they have become part of a city – the trees and flowers and plants are no longer nature, but they are another form of life. The mountains that i see are but that – scenery – they are apart and not connected to this valley floor and act as a mere dropback to the life down here. In the bright sun they appear brown and hard and do not really call forth, though in the evening when the sun is setting they come to life as the harshness is mellowed out. But without a car they are out of reach, and do not appear as a place to explore, or maybe i just know that i can’t get there. in any case, they are disconnected. It has been abnormally warm for October, and ski season seems far away; not that i ski, but that is the activity that these mountains call forth. In other directions is the desert and the great salt lake, both which appear as foreboding environments, and are out of sight anyways. So it does not all out, but neither does what is here, and that feeling of stasis is what holds me down.

Could i engage right here i ask? I have asked this so many other places as well, and compared to where i have been and left, this place lacks so much – mainly in terms of nature around and a center within. I stay in an older residential neighborhood, close to what is called downtown. it is nice to walk beneath the trees, and there is much in reach, scattered around on different corners and blocks nearby. But that is it, it is so scattered about, and as it the case with cities, there is so much around, but so much of it is the same. And just what do i connect with? I need to engage, but nothing calls forth and i feel so overwhelmed. And being in a city i feel disconnected from the natural environment.

There really is no center as tends to be the case with most american towns; and here there seems to be a lack of spread out centers built for people to be. Like most of america, it is the land of the car, spread out and not built to human level. The downtown core is empty with few people about; some street kids and tourists and that is about it. Despite the buildings and the construction zone, there is really so little there. Temple square is at the center, and i spent several days there, but it is a place to visit, a tourist zone, and once you have seen it there is little reason to return, and it is not a place where you just be.

I have explored some of the neighborhoods, but what that amounts to is walking around, drinking coffee and riding transit – i do not see how to grasp on. perhaps i do not want to for i see houses and places to shop, and i do not know how to engage, or is it that i see nothing to engage with. It is so spread out, with malls or centers and individual stores and office building blocks apart. I find myself returning again to whole foods and feeding that empty place within. There are some outside tables overlooking the parking lot to the center which sits on a busy traffic filled street where trax also runs. So i sit inside, in the upstairs area, playing on my computer, divorced from all that is around.

I went to one corner, 900 and 900, which was cute with coffee shops, restos, a theater, and outside tables and people were around – an area that extended for half a block in each direction; the narrower site streets were cute with older homes and a large park was nearby. It was familiar, but seemed isolated in the car oriented sprawl that is around. I ask myself, what would i do right here for there is more to life than drinking coffee, but i see nothing to create. On my way to the library, I pass by a book store on one block, an alternative restaurant on another, a massage school, and much more (old churchs, 7-11s, fast food joints) scattered about and i become both over and under whelmed.

I took the trax train one day up to the university, a sprawling area, with great views, but no center that i could see. I went south on the line to an area that said historic sandy on the map. the train ran for miles down the old railway tracks through industrial zones. The stops were in the “middle of nowhere” not connected to mini town centers or even shopping malls – each had a park’n’ride and a place where the buses came in, often with very little else around. I got off near the end of the line but could not find a historic center but perhaps i did not walk far enough; but it was not comfortable walking down the busy wide suburban roads, yes with sidewalks, but where i was the only pedestrian. A residential neighborhood with small bungalows sat on one side of the street but there was no reason to wander down there.

Another day i went to Ogden, at the end of the frontrunner line. It is a separate city, but is connected by sprawl, the sprawl that runs up and down the watach range. The sprawl of industry and housing developments. The sprawl that is the geography of america, that defines the placelessness of this country. It is created, but for what, and it hurts when i look on. Is there a place for me to create here i ask, and then i shrivel within.

The frontrunner, the nice commuter train with frequent service, lets you off near the historic downtown in ogden; a place that is cute but that feels dead. I know i have seen pictures of it taken in the winter, an old western street with the backdrop of a snow covered mountain, which looks wonderful and inviting. Yet the area is empty, it is another primarily tourist zone, be it tourists who have come from afar or from the sprawl for the afternoon. It is a cute street but it is not a lived environment, for life now takes place in the sprawl. I walk around, the sun beats down hard, and i feel that aimless wandering emptiness again, that sense of loss that overtakes when i am not engaged. I try to connect, but despite a park and a new empty shopping zone, the area feels dead to me and the deadness crawls in. I drink coffee and then ride the train back through the sprawl to the oasis where i stay.

I spend days sitting inside or at the library with empty walks in between. An impasse in my life and i feel trapped once again. i look to move on and spend time in that searching zone, coming up blank, and staring blankly, and cut myself off even more. I try to write, but i see little to make me smile. The wonderment has abated, and i shrink away.

The city seems so isolated, and what direction to go? Do i do back from where i came from, where i have no place to stay. for here for the moment i can stay, and this has happened before – why is it that i seem to stay in the lifeless zone. transport out is difficult with expensive buses and flights, and trains that run in the middle of the night, and so much is so far – and nothing speaks to me.

Is it this city that makes me feel trapped, or just a city without a core, or a soul? For this is what so much of america is and it makes me sad. is it where i stay, for in this hostel others also seem stuck, and transition through impasses themselves. I want to live, but here i feel i die. I asked myself that the night before i came – would i die in salt lake – and the answer was yes, so i ask myself why i came out here. and can i get the strength to live again?

But i feel tired, like i do not have the strength to move on? but when i try to “settle” i dissolve. Is it that i see very little in this country that appeals to me, and there is nowhere here that i really want to go, and my eyes and heart are sad. Is it due to their sadness that nothing around calls forth.

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I am back at harbin once again and feel like i have entered a different world – one that is more urbane, prosperous and polished. and when i sat in my tent and at my picnic table in that national forest campground outside Gasquet this is what i yearned for. i felt so far removed from the mainstream and that my life was to be on the edge of the road and i would crawl into the forest and reside in there. and i have written about harbin before – but how it feels to you depends on the direction from which you come.
I have previously arrived from the city, twice from the bay, and once after a day in seattle but had been out in small town zone. Now i come from the oregon coast and northern california and rather than being a retreat from the mainstream it is a way of entering back in – cars (mainly shiny and newer) fill the parking lot, i sit in a cushioned chair and earlier sat on a lawn. last night i watched a movie. and there is the kitchen, the cafe, the restaurant and the store so easily at hand. and from my tent site a short walk to the toilets which are individual affairs. and of course there are the pools, a place to soak. And the people seem so well dressed when they are wearing their clothes, cute pants and dresses and tank tops – first hand and quality made. And this is not just harbin, but the california of my mind, that represents this change – though this california is not the whole state, and was not many of the northern towns though i saw it more and more as we moved on south, out of the grey coast zone.

And this morning as i sat in the garden after a long soak and drinking an excellent americano i thought what i different world i was in that where i stood waiting for the bus outside elk prairie campground up on the coast 24 hours before waiting for the bus to pull off the highway in the cool grey morn waiting on the on ramp from the scenic parkway, with very little else around, i had packed up early and walked by the open land then stood on the road saying goodbye to the redwood trees, feeling that it would be a long time before i saw them again. And then i sat on the corner waiting, had set up with del norte transit to stop at the location the previous afternoon before i left crescent city and decided to camp down there.

And on the way down i passed through so many zones – that now seem like a blur – the greyness of northern humboldt, the greyhound bus, the heat and sun coming out near garberville – that strange hippie town that usually agitates me – but this time did not lash out as we passed through quick, the 101 as it becomes a divided highway, mcdonalds in willits as we stopped for lunch, two hours on the edge of ukiah – eating a burrito at a mexican store and resto across the street from the bus stop – lake transit to lakeport which looks like a cute town, then down the west side of the lake on highway then twisty road – so much not written here.

How easily it is to shift between worlds and i feel that this is fantasy land, make-believe, pretend – not only the retreat center per se, but this whole stretch of california extending for over a hundred miles in each direction both north and south of the bay. It is the land of luxury, of the boho vibe, of good living, organic foods and new age thought but of course not for all but that is what i see here.

But back to up the road – and now this afternoon i feel in a different world than i did before yesterday on the edge of ukiah waiting 2 hours for the lake transit bus – greyhound was late, so missed the connection and that felt so different than the same time the day before as i got on the bus to leave crescent city,

and the day before as i sat in the campground outside gasquet, and the day before as i walked highway 199, as the day before when i sat in the sun in the redwoods,

and the day before when i arrived there after a long trip and had just recently set up my tent and the sun emerged and i was so happy to be off the coast,

and the day before in brookings – i think i was heading back to the campground from town, but that day (which was just over a week ago) was not so different from the day before as i had done similar things but felt very different inside)

and that was different than the day before when i arrived in brookings at that time, and the day before at humbug,

and the day before eating fish and chips in bandon

and the day before on the cold cape, and so on, and between each of those moments at around three, so much had transpired. but now i think i will be here through the weekend, a bit of time to live life more slow.

now i have been at harbin for several days and all that seems but a blur – i have more to write about my time here but somehow the words will not come out – i have indulged – soaked in the pools, layed on cushions watching movies on the big screen, lounged in a comfy chair for hours on end, eaten full healthy tasty meals, gone to yoga a couple of times and more, but somehow this seems empty to me and i feel more disconnected than when i was out on the road and here in the coffee shop in middletown i feel more real. And the world of the harbins and the nice shiny vibe does not seem like the world i am meant to live in – though i appreciate it’s comforts and luxuries that abound. But it is a retreat center and feels cut off like a fantasy land, but one where i really do not fit in. And i have felt old emotions and feelings coming back to me – another person arising within.

it is more than harbin per se that produced this change in me – coming here that day on the greyhound bus with the grouchy driver, and the highway that became a divided road, and once out of the grey zone, the buildings and cars that were new and prosperous so it seems – but also the division seemed more real. and i felt a loss of the friendliness of the grey zone though i still encounter it in many places.

And it is a stasis and being where i feel i do not belong, and i feel disconnected and an outsider here. While that is often the case when i am not in physical movement, there is something more going on here – something that i cannot yet write about. but this is a time to process the experiences of the past few months and remove another veil that covers my eyes.
 

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I feel a sucking energy here in eugene – one of lethargy and complacency. Maybe is it the laid back vibe that so many others value, but its underbelly shines me in the face. My age perhaps – too old for this – or see the partying that has gone on too long for many, and the eyes of those for whom it might be a passing phase. The smell of pot wafts around and there are so many disorganized lives – or glassy eyes from the few beers that turned into an all afternoon into the night thing.

It is a college and granola town, and now that school is finally out – late here in the middle of June – the town is quiet and eats away at me. The slacker vibe and maybe that is why i am here – for my life in the past few years has been that – i now clean a hostel and check quests in in exchange for a dorm bed. And the slacker vibe has come into me- yet i too cannot lift myself out, the bed with the noise that penetrates the walls and the highway or factory that can be heard slightly below all.

And i find i no longer relate – a lifetime ago for me – one who irritates and i am twice her age – the festivals, the bands, and that no longer hold it for me and have not for a very long time. It is comfortable but does not inspire me.

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My status has shifted – i am no longer the “rich gringa” i appeared to be in Central America – seen as wealthier than i was, assumptions made about me because of the colour of my hair and skin and the fact that i was carrying a backpack. nothing about my appearance has changed, but i know that the assumptions made here are far different. Is she a traveller, or more likely as one of the homeless carrying a bag, and my monetary poverty reveals itself in worn clothes and outdated glasses and is apparent to all. I am no longer a foreign traveller who brings in currency, but a traveller of a different sort, a wanderer, who intrigues some and is unwelcome by others. And while i should be immune to outside perceptions i am not. Rather than being approached by all selling their wares, i am avoided by those passing out samples in the malls.

But i am the same person, or am i? How to my thoughts about myself change in space, in relation to others? And if they do change, am i the same? And which one of me is real?
And with my status shift from rich to poor, my relation does change. I am on the outside looking in – but now that i think about it, that is something that was true all along, just what the outside and the inside are differs. Away, i was a visitor, looking onto another culture, through foreign eyes, and did feel outside, but thought to myself that is expected, i am not really part of this place. And i looked on from a privileged position, enjoying experiences goods and services that were unavailable to so many.

But on my journey, i felt the pain of being an outsider at times, walking alone through a square or market – and the variation of the quality of the looks was so similar – a curiosity, a true welcome, the what will she give us, hostility or just plain old indifference. And there, as with here, i did not usually fit with the hostel crowd – yes, at times i met some interesting people and joined right in, as i had a few places here. And perhaps it was the pain of being on the outside that i took with my on my journey, and that is the one souvenir that i took back home. For that status has not shifted – just changed its flavour in a multitude of ways.

But here, i feel that i should be “home” though it is not the coast where i was born or the country where i grew up. And here i feel poor, looking on at the life of others,unable to partake of much – either as a tourist or as one who lives. And it is a country where many are poor and are judged for it – but was it really any different there – but there poverty does not seem to be a personal failing.

Here i watch from the outside, feeling that i should be able to take part. I was going to write that i wanted to join in but could not, but as i write i realize that in many ways i do not – either that or i have been outside for so long that i feel that i cannot. The “mainstream” life has become as foreign to me as the village life away was. Except that i was once a part of it, and i think that is where the difference is. I feel that i should belong.

There i felt like a fraud, for i never felt wealthy, and maybe poverty was something i clung to. And now i can better understand the lives of those who have, but do not, cannot, share all. I remember sitting at a table on a terrace, drinking a coffee, a simple coffee with milk, and feeling sad, and then getting annoyed at all who passed by, selling ways, wanting from me, annoyed that i could not just be for a moment, that i took this moment and could not be at peace.

For i knew (or believed) it to be temporary, the being able to live “the good life” would not last for long – and even then i did not live it good. How many times did i deny myself an experience or something, a good, because it was too expensive, when by comparison to what i spend her to exist it was cheap – not merely diversions that entertain for a moment and then leave you empty or things like tastier food that do not last but clothes that you could take with you. And while i did that there, not spend 1/2 to 2/3rd of what i spend in a single night here for a private room or a comfortable place when i needed one. And in that way maybe my status, at least as felt inside has not changed for again that i something that i have done.

For here i am still visible, do not blend in, or do i – did i in santa cruz. There my identity shifted but not inside. I am often invisible – but now i am in a city and do not stand out – something i had wished for when i was away. But here in small towns, when walking where few do go, i too am visible am noticed.

And in what other ways has my status shifted, and what status do i cling to that no longer is real or really does not make a difference. For status by its definition is relative, relative to what is around, and should i really care. Can i love all that are around, not classify and judge and not feel the judgements upon me. For as i write this i see so much more that the differences are subtle, and in what i thought was a large shift, i have not moved much at all.

When first noticed that i was white, went to being a tall woman and now am back to being short. I have aged, and at the hostels am an older woman, though i remember my time on the oregon coast and even in monterey where i felt young. In the tenderloin i felt well balanced mentally and still linked to “society at large’ where often i don’t , and i notice the difference the most in the well to do suburbs. Here in this neighborhood, i feel well dressed and neat and tidy, but when i go elsewhere, where all wear more expensive, well-fitting new clothes and the women have coiffed hair and wear makeup i feel unkept – so what is outside appearance anyways, And do i look at others the same way?

If i am to feel the energy of a place, then i feel that swirls around. But can i look at all and feel all without judgement and comparison – be one with both all that is around and with my higher self. On the one hand status is an illusion, nothing more than a creation of our minds, both individual and collective, but on the other hand it can feel so real. I think about many of the poor communities, and people on my journeys, i think of some of the maya, but others, who were materially poor but dignified, and seemed to possess a richness inside. And i think about many of the notions we define as real, and how they are just illusions.

Status is but an illusion, one that claims us so. To look at its other side – it is shifting, temporary, changing, and reminds us that nothing is permanent, it reminds us that all is one and intertwined for it can only exist in relation, and it reminds us that so much of what seems real is not, and also that what cannot be seen can be real.

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Another city, i sit and observe, watching life stroll by, drink coffee, smoke and write. A sadness overwhelms and i do not know what i do here, why i am here. Awoke this morning to the sound of cars rather than of birds or dogs or something. I sit here watching – i know that i am part of the interplay of life that goes on, just as i see others, others see me, but despite all the people i feel alienated and cut off in a cafe in the main square. San Cristobal is both a tourist town and a real city with people going on about their lives, and i do little, like i have in many places, and here i feel lost. I know the calm inside should be regardless of where i am, but i dont know why i am here. Life goes on – work, study, family, friends, suffering and indulgence, but i cannot relate. I want to talk to god and the spirit, but i do not connect with the spirit that lies inside us all. And i walk up and down the streets, over and over like i have so many other places. looking but not seeing, hearing the noise but not the voices, feeding myself on coffee, smokes, a bit of food, but not on god, or so it seems, though i try. I do the circle of the churches, not ornate and welcoming as i remembered (but i now think that was another city, or was it just my imagination) but they seem harsh and cold, with flat ceilings and bloody crucified Jesuses on crosses, and dark painting of pious looking saints in the front above the altar surrounded by gold (or copper) – it is austere and not joyous – though one on the hill was full of flowers on the altar and people praying and a louder procession left from the cathedral yesterday – but they are not places that lift my spirit and call to me. in a few i sit briefly and others i walk around, stare blankly and leave, feeling cut off and wanting to join with god.
So i sit and drink coffee – the pace of life goes on with little boys incessantly, persistently, selling their wares, forceful at times, almost aggressive and refusing to leave until you get harsh on the 6th no. And the women and little girls and grandmothers left alone selling. And i remember this feeling – as i sit here, rich compared to them, indulging in a coffee with time to sit, becoming at times closed and hostile, not a five minute break, cannot be.
And i remember thinking, in san marcos, thinking of my return to the us, where i am on the outside, one of them, that we/they – the beggars, the homeless, the poor, are but shadows – shadows of poverty and wanting that exist in the shadow of indulgence and ¨the good life¨ – a life not for all, denied to many, and with the disparity borders get drawn even more intensely, and the gap grows and i sit here drinking my coffee – a privilege, a normal habit but a luxury for some. And it is more here, a little barefoot girl – 3 or 4 goes around asking for pesos, learning to beg – but am i really any different. And the guilt grows, i buy a trinket, but it is just a drop in the bucket, more to assuage my guilt. At times i think they are there to teach compassion and loving and giving.
But it is more in the tourist zones and in places where the gap is big. The eyes that look longingly at the table – mainly of the young who have not yet learned to avert them, the young like the shoeshine boys who later sit outside another cafe indulging in a frozen mocha. But i know that look, face to face with what you cannot have, standing outside, looking on, longing, for i too have had that look many a time.
And the peddlers and beggars are more intense here than they have been elsewhere in central america. Is is just the gap – for you go through much of the rural areas (except near here) where people are poor, but still seem to have something – not as ground down. Or is it also another loss, a poverty that is not only material, but spiritual, a poverty that is deeper, that cannot be solved by buying a trinket today. I think of my time in Nica, which was poor in material things, but also seemed rich – a sense of spirit and connection that existed in places with the very basic simple life. Or is it the people – but no – i have seen the maya in their communities and know that not all are pushy sellers, the aggressive merchants, but here with those who now live in the slums on the edge of town, the aggression is worse. Or where there is the gap – tourist land, pana at the lake, or the frequent thefts in san marcos. but i drift away from this place.
And is that what i see here, amongst those, like me at times, the travellers who wander, looking, or those who live the good life – possibly materially wealthy, but spiritually poor, and seeking to fill up. A woman with goods walks by, i avert my eyes, do not want to see, cannot buy from all, she reminds me, i hang onto what i have, close my heart instead of open it, or do i, for it aches with pain and guilt. A smile, a kind word is not enough, and their resentment of me turns to resentment of them. i try to open my heart, send love, a smile.
And the traffic circles on and people walk through and i am back to searching, on how to leave this place, feeling trapped, no where to go, enthusiasm down, flight to usa in a week and have no home, my temporary privilege, the one sitting on the seat facing the square is over, to i the one who looks on longingly and cannot join in. And in many ways does not want to – the feeding of emptiness, of internal poverty.
And in the city i long once again for where i am not – a place to be in nature, commune with god, and light up and see the spirit inside all. and perhaps i am here to learn, to do that here as well, the calm inside when there is noise without, and to feel the interconnectedness of all, and not apart, and to remove the veil from my heart and soul in the places where it is more difficult.

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