In general, I have a wonderful, charmed life. I am blessed with a loving family and friends. But I often feel I am just a hitchhiker, wondering who got me the ticket and where the ride is going. (I love the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books!)
I’ve been around the world literally a dozen times. I am the son of a Foreign Service Diplomat. I’ve lived 45 years, not so long, but long enough to know how long that is. I’ve learned and done countless things, failed at many, forgotten most. And yet all I’ve really learned is that I don’t know much. Everything I do comes with the awareness of the million things I’m not doing or could be doing. It’s humbling, and Buddhist thinking has helped. Yet I have the urge to go outside the border, push the limit, break the rules, try new things, try just about EVERYTHING. I think I will always be that way.
Music was my first extended swim beyond the home pier. Gustav Mahler’s music opened up a portal to other world. I wonder who I would be without having heard his Ressurection Symphony while driving 8 hours through the night to visit a friend. The symphony ended with its mindbending finale (ressurection) just as the brilliant rays of sun heralded a new dawn over the frozen landscape of a hilltop graveyard in the rolling plains of central Ohio. That was in 1982.
I branched out from there. I’ve never been a fast reader, so poetry was something that appealed to me. I discovered e.e. cummingsâ€™ poetry in the 80’s and loved the freedom of it. Thatâ€™s when I began to write short, personal poems. Other poet favorites include Pablo Neruda, Rainer Maria Rilke, Wallace Stevens, Octavio Paz, T S. Eliot, and many others. One book I will always love is Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. I wish I could have met him. He is truly a spiritual poet. I was also influenced by books such as Illusions by Richard Bach, and almost anything by Alan Watts, the pop-zen writer who was popular then. Now I’m trying to read more standard literature, which is work for me. But the satisfaction of reading great writing is a rich reward.
Other things I dabble in include gardening, which was a way to connect with the earth, learn about the patterns we cannot change. I fought nature for 12 years before learning to ride her waves. More recently I have begun collecting antique quilts, feeling their rootedess in history, their beauty and determination. Of course, this path was also lighted by a man who is a fellow explorer, and who has become a dear friend.
There is no freedom without limitations. Why is that so hard to learn? I used think I was free, but I was just young. Now I’m remapping my landscape, seeing what holds the â€œstewâ€ together. It’s hard to admit we need love and support, especially for me. Especially for ME. (hitch hiker) Giving love is a way to get up and grow up. That’s the hardest lesson of all. It’s certainly not obvious to me. Love is the floatation device in the chaos of reality. As Joseph Cambell said, â€œâ€™Follow your Blissâ€. Exploration has risks, and I think they are worth it. But as I mature, I realize the memories of a thousand adventures mean little without friends and family to share your excitement.
A few little bits about me. When I was young, my favorite color was bright orange. It is again. As a boy, I’d look up at the moon during the day and wonder at the majesty of this huge rock floating in the sky. I also loved looking at the rings of Saturn through my telescope.
My favorite game at my birthday parties was “telephone”. Someone would whisper something in another’s ear and it would get whispered around the table. The last person would say out loud what they heard. It was always completely different. I liked how things morphed in translation.
I always had spaghetti at my birthday parties.
In India, where I spent several years as a boy, there’s a holiday called Holy Day. The tradition is to throw colored water on people. I’d fill balloons with colored water and throw them at passers by. Everyone knew the tradition. No one was exempt. My favorite target was men wearing white dhotis.