I don’t know what it is about travel that inspires one to write. Not that one doesn’t already write, but that one is now thinking of the act of writing as on equal footing with visiting Regent’s Park or biking from Shoreditch to the Embankment: with a bit of joy for what is coming up, joy for what you have to either spit or swallow in the coming act, provided you are not exhausted.
Oh whatever. Oh, well, travel always forces you to be newly awake, because all of these little differences you encounter force you to, at the very least, be alert, if not intrigued. Travel to a dark dungeon with foul smells will wake you up just as travel to a rainbow colored field of tulips bathed in clean air will wake you up, as long as you are not completely jaded in/by frequent habitation of either scenario and were not born and formed in these places.
I always am hyper aware of how ugly the outlets in London look to me, or how weird the smells of things are such as the air inside a very cool elevator, or how all the food is packaged so much smaller and doesn’t always list the protein content when I’m leaving the gym trying to look and feel good because its a habit to try and look and feel good.
In this window, of being awake, you also start to notice things that are actually the same everywhere, but you are more aware of them because they are being presented to you in a new frame. Black people stop and ask white people questions on the street in all sorts of cities, but because I’ve always been very interested in the black British accent, when these black British people stopped and asked the white British people about whether or not XO’s hip hop night was open, I was fascinated to be able to hear this exchange between two groups of friends, and even more fascinated with how nonchalant the exchange was, even though its just as nonchalant in New York. But it was fascinating because I was awake mentally and because no matter how far Americans progress through race relations, I was born into the context of American racial distress and have since always been fascinated by the mirror race relation between black and white in other countries that don’t have the history of American slavery. In London, the whole thing was very easy and comfortable from appearances, the only downside being that neither the black kids nor the white ones gave me much attention when I inquired about what kind of club they were questioning (just to buy more observation time - I was really not about to go to a hip hop club due to my stomach issues preventing me to drink and due to the fact I was also very interested in seeing if I could find some hot gay club for the sake of an exotic experience, hence my strolling through the streets in gym attire hoping that would somehow make it irresistible to run up to me and tell me where the best club in town is without me having to do any work. Didn’t work). Either my gym clothes made them think I wasn’t cool enough to really go into detail about the club, my American accent reduced the amount of info I would be given, or them being drunk (or British) just meant there wasn’t much to say. They mumbled something about it being a hip hop club, looked me up and down, and basically said “don’t even bother”.
Being awake makes even this fascinating, though not necessarily positive or negative as an experience.
Watching the sun rise at 5AM over London is like watching an initial sunrise, because it is over London, and not New York.
Meeting a handsome lad earlier whose experience is similar to a condition my brother is managing was also a very awake thing, because not only did I stumble across this kid on You Tube via a fascinating and uplifting video he made during another awake period of my life (when we were first learning about my brother), but I was meeting someone from the internet in a park in London. It meant you could pull people off of the computer if you just bought a plane ticket; or at least, they could invite you into the screen.
We walked and talked at length about the intricacies of how the mind can alter your perception, mood and sense of personal balance. I left with a wealth of insight into mindfulness, excited to later impart this to my brother, who was excited about the new philosophy and how it might assist him in his journey. My brother gave me a chance when I suggested he also remove gluten from his diet, and has stuck with the diet noting he feels it has made a positive impact on the weight of his mental experience. I am beginning to see the fruits of actually sharing all of those wonderful ideas you have, and being persistent with bringing them to life. I’m excited to explore mindfulness with my brother, alongside gluten free glory and just being awake in general, because though being awake by nature forces you to be more focused, it also allows you to develop better and better “spectacles” to wear in your future journeys, that will allow you to see more new things and interpret different cuts of the fabric of the world in different places without being rattled by them, whether these things are unsightly and dark, or pretty and light. For, you know, people live here and people live there, and people live with this and people live with that, and you often can get to thinking your experience is both mundane and simultaneously unique, but the truth is, its all a cut from the same fabric, and a lesson from one place can be understood in another, and an outlet will still give power here or there, you just might need an adapter.
A translation. Translation is a key tool in advancing, and sometimes you need that very different element in order to see how its not quite so different after all, but that the coating is simply a different formula. And then you are speaking a universal tongue. And then you can take one thing and use it as a reference point in a manifesto about another.
I took this trip to get away, but not completely in a punch-drunk-forgot-what-I-did-last-night way, but to get away to a lofty viewpoint, where I can look back down at Earth because I now see London, and France, and New York, and hopefully less than underpants. And from here, I can find some common links that I can’t see from just down there. And the more often I am able to do this, the more differences I see, and thus the more similarities I put together and the more universal I feel.
I also know that I am in some sort of transition where I am being forced to be awake because I’m stepping from one part of my life into another. To travel sometimes is a good interlude, because you have to pack everything up, and in that process you review everything you’ve been holding onto recently, and then when you’re away you keep accessing those things but you also buy new things and you have to sort of squeeze these in or toss out some old things, and then by the time you are coming back to that new chapter, you’ve seen a lot of things about yourself, old and new, and put them in that translator against the rest of the odd things you’ve seen on your trip, and you create your universal self that has framed itself and sifted and sorted these bits of itself before stepping into that next chapter.
Did you find yourself? Well, to be honest, you were never lost. You were just a little unorganized, and you will be again. But that’s important, that you do go through that, because in being forced to pick up the pieces and make note of whats odd or out of place, you’ll be forced to sift and sort again. And yeah, it takes a little bit of energy, because its work, but it won’t always feel like work because it can always be fun: especially if traveling is the translator.
No matter what, when you step across the ocean into that new chapter, you’ll have most likely reviewed something in order to know which foot to put down first. You might not always be able to justify the price of the flight into that transitional ocean, and you might even know if its technically/morally right that you attempted to take that little interlude. But if it feels right, its usually right, and is ultimately good for you and those you care about in the long run.
You’re probably getting a lot lot lot out of your crazy excursions. I just want you to know that.
All the money
you can’t help me
if you ‘re the one that hurt me
i am responsible
for following the tone set forth
and i am responsible
yes for following it
and as well for the echo
but the past is the past
and i’ve made some changes
but new tones discordant
try as i may
are nonetheless discordant
and change can be a mighty process
all the while blood must come
my plan may not be popular
but its the path of least resistance
within the tone set forth
and no one should be harmed
if we’re all on the same page
and most shall gain
for oft what seems like a problem
is simply a misunderstanding
in a myriad of pathways
to where we’re trying to get
my plan may not be popular
but i’ve taken everything into consideration
and this should get us there
they said many things
they kept it artful
but only time will tell
what it really means
even if they already know
you can see the rail winds
up through the valley that seems to rise
such that you’d call it a mountain, the way it seems to reach the sky
we little people can only see so high
and where the rail disappears
into the sunset
you’d bet that’s where you’d get
strapped down on the locomotive yet
ordering coffee or tea, and trying to get some sleep
even though its the middle of the day
while you imagine for what it is your saving and why for not now
but for late
but of course you counter balance
with Libra somewhere in the sky
what if further ahead there’s a bridge
where you die
how can the rails past the sunset
be as here as now where you’ve been set
and yet all these years you’ve been waiting
to see past the sunset
you want to count to speed it up
because you just can’t wait
but alas, the rails dictate
that physics are greater
and especially the physics of time
greater than what you will in your mind
for as soon as you sat down in the chariot
you gave up your footing
and you got in line
they mentioned the rails go far
and the fascination of touching something here that is also there
they kept it artful
the understood it well
and sometimes they looked concerned
and they checked to see how fast things were coming along
I’d guess they were a straight couple
they paraded lightly down the steps
she tapped his ass
she grabbed his ass
his hand flicked hers away
they got to the bottom
and she wrapped her arms around him
and lifted him
she seemed bigger and stronger than a match for him
life is pretty like that sometimes
I guessed that the train would arrive by the time I finished writing this about them hence all of these extra words trying to extend the length of time it takes to write this poem about this couple
It’s still not here, to be honest
just a dark mark
this pretty room of yours
white and splash of rose
for a split second he observes
nowhere to hide
two very different lives
all this crescendo
culminates in an empty night
he’s taming the wild
he’s taming the wild
who’s framing the tame
but only for a second
because he’s wild
and all the land is beautiful
and all the land is just
but worlds within worlds
his skin upon his skin
they lay here, slain, for a while
he’s framing the tame
he’s taming the wild