Saturday, May 30, 2009

A tree swayed by wind

"And if you’re lost enough to find yourself/ By now, pull in your ladder road behind you/ And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me./ Then make yourself at home."

I miss the xanga days, and before those the livejournal days. It would have been nice if I'd really posted entries here while I was in South America, but now I'll try again.

Still lost, although I'm back home (and have been for half a year). Getting more and more lost all the time so maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to find myself.

Now let's just dive in.

My last blog was titled "I came to live out loud," and that Emile Zola quote still very much describes me. But living out loud comes with advantages and disadvantages, and sometimes I live too much and sometimes I have these high, lofty, abstract questions that can't be answered except for perhaps through beautiful literature.

I'll suffice it to say I suffer from a severe lack of restraint. From brownies to beer and many things in between, I live in the moment and go with the flow. I have no regrets, which is not the same thing as saying I don't make bad decisions.

I also ramble.

Heart of Darkness is my go-to source when this whole restraint thing starts getting to me. Maybe it can be yours, dear anonymous reader, too.

"You can't understand. How could you?--with solid pavement under your
feet, surrounded by kind neighbours ready to cheer you or to fall on you,
stepping delicately between the butcher and the policeman, in the holy terror of
scandal and gallows and lunatic asylums--how can you imagine what particular
region of the first ages a man's untrammelled feet may take him into by the way
of solitude--utter solitude without a policeman--by the way of silence--utter
silence, where no warning voice of a kind neighbour can be heard whispering of
public opinion? These little things make all the great difference.
When they are gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your
own capacity for faithfulness. Of course you may be too much of a fool to
go wrong--too dull even to know you are being assaulted by the powers of
darkness. I take it, no fool ever made a bargain for his soul with the devil: the fool is too much of a fool, or the devil too much of a devil---I don't
know which. Or you may be such a thunderingly exalted creature as to be
altogether deaf and blind to anything but heavenly sights and sounds. Then
the earth for you is only a standing place--and whether to be like this is your
loss or your gain I won't pretend to say. But most of us are neither one
nor the other. The earth for us is a place to live in, where we must put
up with sights, with sounds, with smells, too, by Jove!

Does our restraint come from the whispering neighbours and policemen? Does it come from the devil and God?
Do we really have *innate* strength when all that's taken away? If there's no threat of scandal or punishment (heavenly or earthly), nothing forcing or expecting morality, how do we measure our own capacity for strength?

Those questions are terrifying. Especially when even in the midst of whispering neighbours, policemen, and God, people can do such horrifying things. I'm not sure I like thinking about how it would be if men and women were left entirely to their own devices.

I am not a fool ignorant of temptation, nor am I a thunderingly exalted creature deaf and blind to it. I am among those who fall in between, on this earth to live. I put up with the sights, the sounds, the smells that tempt and linger and I thrive in living out loud, for better or for worse.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Where Thou Art -that- is Home

Happy Battle of Iquique Day yesterday! This fantastic festival enabled my friends and me to take a much needed break and travel to Buenos Aires for a glorious five day vacation to the big city. Going back to Bs As was incredible; I love that city...the people are beautiful, the way they speak is gorgeous, and the distinct feel of neighborhoods strongly reminiscent of the big cities of Europe enchants me. I got to go back to a few of my favorite places in the old barrio, but I mainly had the opportunity to discover new spots and wander around famous tourist areas that I never saw in 2006. But even more than reconnecting with an old "home," this trip made me realize that I've found a new one; I caught myself saying "when we get back home..." and meaning Vina del Mar, not the U.S. It was a little overwhelming when I first heard myself say that, because it happened without thinking. Today I landed in Santiago, got the bus to Vina, and stepped out into the cold, drizzly, unwelcoming, and harsh quinta region and realized that even though it's impossible to love this place sometimes, it has undeniably become home.
I feel like I know the twists and turns of almost every street here, I know how to get around, and I know when to cross the street and in which grocery store to shop. There are taxi drivers that recognize me, and I could walk down my neighborhood streets to the bottom of the hill to the coast in my sleep. I *know* this city. I am growing to understand the pain and the perseverance of its people and I am proud to call it home, even for just one year.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dig and Be Dug in Return

My mother's classroom in St. Joseph's elementary school had Langston Hughes' poem "Motto" hanging from the wall; it was the first poem I memorized and the words have stayed with me.
I have been in Chile for around two and a half months now, and after cancelling classes for two bomb threats, being surrounded by student revolts and transportation strikes, and bombarded with a culture still perpetuating and recovering from a tumultuous and horrific history, I get along here by following Hughes' motto: play it cool, dig all jive, and as I live and learn, try to dig and be dug in return.
With this first post, salud! to Chile, writing, and getting lost....only in order to find ourselves again.

Lost Enough to Find Herself: Wandering and Rambling throughout the Americas