Thursday, January 31, 2008

Season of the Fool

(Tioman Island, Malaysia, I've been scuba diving here!!)

"He will cease from what is base and frivolous in his life, and be content with all places and with any service he can render. He will calmly front the morrow in the negligence of that trust which carries God with it, and so hath already the whole future in the bottom of his heart.

The conditions are hard but equal. Thou shalt leave the world, and know the muse only. Thou shalt not know any longer the times, customs, graces, politics or opinions of men, but shalt take all from the muse. For the time of towns is tolled from the world by funeral chimes, but in nature the universal hours are counted by succeeding tribes of animals and plants and by growth of joy on joy. The world is full of renunciations and apprenticeships, and this is thine; thou must pass for a fool, and a churl for a long season. And this is the reward; that the ideal shall be real to thee, and the impressions of the actual world shall fall like summer rain, copious, but not troublesome, to thy invulnerable essence."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Kuching, Sarawak, East Malaysia (Sarawak River) where I used to live.)

Traveling is sacred; mankind has traveled ever since the dawn of time, in search of hunting and grazing ground, or milder climates. Very few men manage to understand the world without leaving their home towns. When you travel - and I am not speaking of tourism, but of the solitary experience of a journey - four important things occur in your life:

a] one is in a different place, so the protective barriers no longer exist. To begin with this can be alarming, but soon one gets used to it and starts understanding how many interesting things there are beyond the walls of one's garden.

b] since solitude can be great and oppressive, one is more open to people one would not normally exchange a single word with, back home - waiters, other travelers, hotel staff, the passenger in the next seat in the bus.

c] one starts depending on others for everything: finding a hotel, buying something, knowing how to catch the next train. One begins to realize that there is nothing wrong with depending on others - on the contrary, it is a blessing.

d] one speaks in a language one doesn't understand, uses money whose worth one does not know, and wanders down streets for the very first time. One knows the old I, with all it learned, is completely useless in the face of these new challenges - and begins discovering that, buried deep down in one's unconscious, there is something far more interesting, adventurous, open to the world and to new experiences.

(Sarawak, Borneo Highlands, near where I used to live.)

"To travel is the experience of ceasing to be the person you are trying to be, and becoming the person you really are."

Much love and Namaste.