Sunday, January 30, 2005

On the Edge of a Journey

Its an exhilerating feeling- to be on the verge of a new journey. A flood of emotions: nostalgia and sadness for all you will leave behind, a sense of emptiness as the apartment is cleaned out.

I just said goodbye to my oldest Thai friend, who I met on a trip here two years ago. And of course it will be extremely tough saying goodbye to my girlfriend Tip. Thailand has been very good to me.

Mixed with the nostagia is a giddy sense of anticipation. Its all starting to feel real... an ending and a new beginning. The plane ticket sits on my dresser... stares back at me every day and whispers of onsens, shinkansen, shinto temples, cedar trees, karaoke, and zen. Conjured images of Hiroshima drift behind my eyes.

I think of the airport, one of my favorite places in the world. I imagine the rush and hum of people crowding off to destinations worldwide. One of my favorite exercises is to sit in front of the departures board and scan the city names. I imagine, if I had a wad of money, picking one randomly and off I go.

I like this idea of sacred drift.... I love the ambiguity and the unknown. I love the idea that I may be surprised... that all of my expectations and predictions will most likely be wrong and in truth I have no idea what's in store for me. Its a bit scary and thrilling too. There is magic in it-- not knowing what is going to happen when you get up in the morning... not knowing what's in store. It facilitates a sense of mystery and awe for life.

Which is just what the crushing routines of "normal" life snuff out. Most folks know EXACTLY what is going to happen most days. They know they will wake up at a predetermined time, will go to work and do exactly the same thing they did every other day, will eat the same food, will talk to the same people, will come home and watch the same asinine TV shows... and will repeat this sorry excuse for a life every damn day. These people feel no mystery. They feel no awe for life. They rarely wonder. No ecstacy, no trembling fear.

Well, each to his own. But I say "No thanks" to that. I prefer this quivering fear and enthusiasm; standing on the edge of the unknown and preparing to cross the line. If we were really honest, we'd recognize that all of life is like that- That we know far less than we think... that these routines are delusions to hide the mystery, awe, terror, and ecstacy of living. Nothing is certain. Ambiguity pushes in from the edges.

And sooner or later, no matter how much you think you've got it under control, it will penetrate your life and change everything. Impermanence and change are universal truths.

The wise course is to embrace them and learn to love the mystery.

In my own small way, Im trying to do just that.

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