It has been two weeks since my return from southern latitudes. I do live in a beautiful place right here and finally winter is losing it’s grip. Most of that welcome-home blizzard is now gone, only piles of debris remain where huge trees and limbs blew down. It is obvious that this was an extraordinary storm. There are green buds, snow drops, daffodils, and the odd crocus beginning to appear. Last evening I photographed plum blossoms. It is now about time to go collect the early spring crop of nettles. They’ll sting the hell out of your unprotected hands, but once boiled they become a delicious tonic of greens.
Russia has marched into Crimea. Obama has rightly condemned the action. ( No one had dared to respond by asking about the US in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Vietnam. Oh right! No ranting! ) Meanwhile the Para Olympics are in progress in Sochi, Russia just to the east across the top of the Black Sea. A Malaysian Air Boeing 777 with a load of passengers has vanished into the sea somewhere off the southern tip of Vietnam. We think. There is also speculation that it may have gone down in the Straits Of Malacca, in the opposite direction. Implications of hijacking and terrorism are rife. There is tremendous innuendo about each of these stories. Of course, media speculation leads to more stories and so someone’s misery is milked for maximum profit. While perusing these areas on Google Earth I discovered some fantastic islands of the SE coast of Vietnam. It is an archipelago known as Con Dao. I’ve never heard of it before and wonder how to get there. It is beautiful, exotic and almost unknown, yet another destination for the bucket list.
Life goes on, no matter who lives or dies. A week ago I was writing about how clearly I could see the world after my little sabbatical. For some reason, only a week later, I’m feeling desperately low and aching to be south again. It is an absolute puzzle to me that despite my questioning mind, it has led me back to the labyrinth that I hoped escape on my short sojourn. A certain type of personality, once released from prison, soon deliberately commits a crime that puts them back into the familiarity of the incarceration they have come to accept as normal and comfortable. Life outside of the box is too much to bear.
I used to live within a prison of busyness. It didn’t matter what I was accomplishing so long as I was distracted from the torments of my soul by staying busy to the point of utter weariness.
My manic father taught me indelibly that indeed, “Work shall set you free.” (That is the infamous epitaph above the gates of the death camp of Auschwitz) This is all an affirmation of my previous notion that we are a manic race desperately in need of distraction so often achieved by our incessant doing versus being. Suddenly I see travelling as yet another form of doing, a distraction from our unrest and insecurity. It is not necessarily a pilgrimage of discovery and enlightenment.
I suppose that’s what becoming a monk is all about. Trash all ambition and immerse yourself in an endless routine of simple existence; no creativity, no lust, no abstract pleasure, just work, prayer, meditation and other self-inflicted penances. I’ll never be a monk. Then again, with all of the self-denial, maybe I’m one already.
Mind you the pounds so proudly lost, have almost instantly reappeared like putting on a fat shirt and yes, I have been careful about diet. My Mexican program of fish and beer was working so well! I simply must get back down there! To do that, I need to develop a mental fortitude that is also required to permanently lose the excess baggage.
I’ve I have researched ghost towns of the North American Southwest. With numerous ancient native ruins and all the natural wonders of Western North America I realized that therein is a lifetime of exploration. A friend today suggested that my fascination with the ocean and my new infatuation for the desert begs a simple solution. Take my boat down to the Sea Of Cortez where there is an abundance of both. A good idea, and my original plan.
So, the time has already gone ahead an hour to Daylight Savings, the first quarter of the year has blipped past and here I sit. This has to be the year, there is no doubt about it.
Well, the rising sun is in my eyes, it’s time to get off the boat and do something on this fine early spring morning. I close today’s blog with a quote. It’s a bit abstract but, if you wade through it, entirely appropriate to my musings.
– From Ernest K.Gann, ‘Fate Is The Hunter’
“... I was suddenly very lonely. And I found it agreeable.
For loneliness, I thought, is an opportunity. Only in such a state may ordinary minds, spared comparison with superior minds, emerge victorious from thoughts which may prove perilous to explore in company. Loneliness presents no challengers to undermine by argument and stipulation those comforting theories born of it. Loneliness is not deadening, even for dullards who contrive against the condition because it forces them to think. Unless men are transformed into true imbeciles and simply stare at nothing, or play with their physical toys, then loneliness can form a magic platform which may transport the meek to thoughts of courage, or even cause the scoundrel to examine the benefits of honesty. Mere physical separation from other human beings can energize new conceptions for those usually incapable of any mental experiment. Yet to be thought lonely is automatically to be pitied, which is an insult, since pity is most loudly offered by the patronizing and hypocritical. Pity for the lonely speaks of uncleanliness and rejection (Poor fellow, he is not as admirable as I know myself to be); thoughts so often nursed by those terrified of separation from the mass.”