Sunday, July 26, 2015

Being Present: More Thoughts from Chiang Mai

Mid-day moon in my neighborhood

I am never in the present moment. I always have one foot in the real world and one foot in the dream world. I believe this is who I am. This is what makes me so interesting. That I am always dreaming. That I simultaneously live in both the present and the future. The future always being the future. Always being a dream. It is not practical  to have both feet in the dream world, when I spend my days in a haze,  lethargic and moody. Living totally in my head and not living in my life. But to have both feet in the real world seems equally unappealing. Dull, even. Where do my dreams go then, when they are not being dreamed? What is the other have of my brain thinking, when it is not thinking these thoughts? Would I become more aware, more observant, more astute, more intuitive? On the contrary, I think I learn a lot from my dreams. Whether they are realized or not, they tell me a great deal about myself.

Even my dreams are difficult. If life is difficult, then dreams should be difficult too. They are born of this world. They are awkward and flawed and painful too. Most people are not brave enough to live their dreams. It’s hard enough to live our lives sometimes, let alone our dreams.

I wonder what my dreams were of Asia before I set foot on this journey. I think I dreamed less of my day to day life here and more of the person I would become as a result of living those days. I dreamed of how good it would sound coming from my mouth in conversations, not the actual experience of it. But in reality my day to day life is so uninteresting. The real journey is an inward one. It stretches long and deep. It is hard and fulfilling, surprising and redundant.

When you surround yourself with a language you can’t understand, you start to notice things. You stop paying attention to signs – you can’t read them, and you stop listening to conversations – they don’t make sense. But you start to acutely notice body language, gestures. You notice the movements of strangers. Why is nobody walking down this alley? How are customers getting the attention of the wait staff? You don’t wait for a signal. If there was a signal you wouldn’t understand it. The message is in visual cues. And it always has been, it’s just that with language we get to be reinforcing or redundant, or conflicting or confusing. We overwrite those cues with our words and we learn to rely on that. Our unused senses grow weak as we wait to be told what to do. The art of mystery is all but lost. Being abroad is a re-education in the senses. You are re-learning how to observe not look, how to listen not hear, how to interpret, not just perceive.

Saturday, Dec. 6, Artisan Café, 3:50 pm

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