When the Trip Ends, You’re Home

Once, somewhere far away, an itinerant healer cured a boy of his ennui.

“What a fool I was to have forgotten myself!” The youth exclaimed.

“Forgotten your self?” The old healer laughed. “My child, you did not forget your self, nor have you found your self again now; you forgot the art of engaging with music and poetry; you forgot to build comfort into your life to enable quiet, whole-hearted exploration and, forever craving the ease you lacked, dulled your pain with consumption; you forgot your true friends and hid from their joy amongst the activities of lesser men; you did all of these things and more, but never did you forget your self — in fact, you were burrowed quite deep within your self when I found you. You were pinching at healthy body fat and tugging at your hair enough to make it fall out; you asked about incessantly for a glimmer of your worth and standing, obsessive in unfolding and creasing, over and over again, the infinitely-mirrored image that makes up a self; forgetting your pleasures and ecstasies; forgetting experience so completely that your self — hopelessly recursive by the time we met — was the only thing you could remember at all, and you called it the world, and were weary of it. Now you claim you’ve found your self again at last, but I would say, rather, that you have finally lost your self and discovered your joy.”

“Oh,” said the boy. After a long pause he groaned, “How could I have let this happen?”

“What has happened?”

“I feel as if I have wasted so much time on nothing, when now I see clearly that I should have been creating and discovering joy.”

“I would not think your time was wasted, for while you watched the ego’s nothingness through your jaded kaleidoscope, what marvelously fractured vision you possessed! I can only imagine the things you might have glimpsed at the confluence of your inwardly focused prisms — could you not make those visions into objects of your own joy and the joy of others?”

“Are you suggesting that I must now love my self (which you say I’ve lost) despite being aware of its illusory nature?”

“No, child, I am suggesting that you make your self into joy.”

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What I’ve Learned

 

Borneo — westernized but still wild, deforested but almost x100 more ecologically diverse than all of North America. 
What I’ve learned is that travel sometimes puts a stop to writing. Climbed Mt. Kinabalu, visiting a hot spring today. 

When I have the energy I will summarize and vaunt my wandering in detail, for now, here’s the sunset at the edge of a sky island:

 

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In Taiwan

All of my unwritten poetry will haunt me. It wrenches my heart a little each time I see a truth and don’t even attempt its description. God, the glory of a food market and the looks one gets when he’s alone and different from all the locals. Already in love with Taipei City, though aching for another lover who I left in LA.

Things I’ve found and photographed:

  • Invasive snail eggs:

  

  • A stone path for hitting pressure points:

  

  

Part 2: Mistrust murders meaningful moments

In a moment of panic I thought I was being drugged and severely insulted my tour guide. He was a guy I met at the 228 Peace Park, by the stone path (see above) — I didn’t know gay men cruise there. He tried to pick me up, I explained my sexuality and went along with him anyway. He took me here:

  

An “artist village.”

There I met the first Tiwanese man to exhibit at the MoMA in NYC, who informed me that “gaga” means something like “of the highest spirituality” in the language of his people (Taiwanese aboriginals). His tribe deeply reveres Lady Gaga, prostrating themselves three times to her music and offering her food and clothing on holy days (not really, but last night I went to Longshan Temple and learned a little about Buddhist practice).

Phrases/words I’ve learned so far:

  • 你好吗
  • 谢谢
  • 对不起
  • 我不懂
  • 你是怒人 (courtesy of a free “learn Chinese app”)

Phrases I need to learn:

  • “How much?”
  • #1-10
  • “I don’t know how to say this.”
  • “Excuse me.” (to get past people)

Finally, apparently some Taiwanese stereotype Americans as “dog-like.” (Gregarious and scrappy?)

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Listing

Listening to listing airships sends shivers scintillating; I fly tomorrow at 1:25am.

  

Ah, the list — a grammatical curiosity. No verbs, nothing betwixt the noun chunks, linear soup assigned meaning under the general category of what this list is “of.” A list of things to buy, to pack, to list.

My list of things I won’t bring: acquiescence to fear

  

Spraying my clothes with military chemicals.

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Of course, I forgot.

I forgot to take my Typhoid pills on Thursday, but I took them on Friday, and then didn’t bring them along as I traveled from New York to Pennsylvania. I turned around and drove two hours out of my way to get them.

Now the final pill sits in my friends refrigerator, festering and waiting for its day in my empty stomach.

We’ll see if I get Typhoid out there.

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SIMPLETON

Time to unlock the good ole iPhone, my only silver-screened companion on this voyage. I’ll be buying foreign SIM (Identity Module) cards, and I’ll let the men and women over yonder charge to let me through their gates and out onto the bandwidth.

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