scared thrilled scared thrill scared thrilled

I find most things in life both scary and thrilling. I suppose I should hope it's always this way, but sometimes it feels like an awful lot of work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Life is made of flavours

I made Canlis Salad tonight. They loved it, but they didn't really understand. I closed my eyes with each bite.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What to do when the world keeps turning.

If I could control the spin of the earth I would have brought it to a grinding halt maybe a year and a half ago. At that point there were three separate hearts in me, all frantically stumbling through their separate erratic rhythms, out of time with each other and out of time with me. Like three bundles of tightly stretched rubber bands and I was feeling the first chilly warning bursts of an elastic blizzard about to hit. It was awful. But the world kept turning. The sun rose every day and forced me to chase it across the city, across campus, from the kitchen out to the tables of eating people, until finally night would allow me to fall asleep on a pile of schoolbooks with my hand in a bowl of nachos. I would have given anything to stop the sun from coming up. To stay in bed. It was not nice.
So time, the old mule, continued on demanding decisions be made and paths taken. One of those paths brought me here to the Middle East, and it was here where I think I learned to stop fighting time. I came here with very high expectations for development on spiritual, personal and professional levels. This requires time, and I accepted that. My greatest fear is to be facing these three battlegrounds and to feel my feet stuck fast. I remember getting stuck like this when I was a rubber-booted kid in the middle of a vast spring mud puddle. With both boots taking root in the earth (this is how we get gum trees, by the way) and dry ground in sight our little boy has a choice to make. He can remain stuck in that puddle till the sun sets and the stars they come stealing, working his boots back and forth and sinking deeper with each effort, or he can pull his bare feet out of those clammy boots and slosh his way to the puddle's edge. Dirty and free. It's this kind of motion, the kind that hurts and that costs, that I've tried to find here.
And it's been one of the most beautiful, painful and rich times of my life. I have the freedom to really engage with this journey in a way I've never experienced. Every day I enter into dark waters and each morning I wake changed. It hasn't been about finding answers. It's been about making motion. Like a sailor with a full and strong tailwind I move swiftly carrying with me each moment two opposed feelings: gratefulness for the wind that drives me and fear that it will soon fail, leaving me stranded. Stranded like before.
There's a part of me that accepts that defeat so easily, that finds it safer and more comfortable to just sit still. But I've got a plan to kill that bastard off for good. I'm hoping to spend some time next year in Africa. From January to May, from Morocco to Egypt through sub-Saharan Africa. It's a strange idea for me, actually. I've never wanted to go to Africa. I'm full western and full northern. I get grumpy in hot weather and I have a hard time sharing a bed with bugs. I'm comfortable with a northern mentality; I understand life through a frosty filter. I know very little about Africa, but my impression is that life there is very different. I think it might be fertile ground for securing motion as an eternal characteristic for me. I want to leave that man who prefers the comfort of stagnancy behind on some dark and solitary trail. I'll walk away without a backwards glance, and hope he never finds his way out. At this point it's simply a plan. But it's a good one, no?
I'm living every day in motion, and it's addictive. To simply wander wouldn't be the same. That would be sitting still in different locations. No, it's better to be on your way to something. The route to that place may take more time and cover more miles than seems sensible, but really, this whole experience carries no sentiment of sensibility. Instead, destiny.
I'm still a wreck, in a lot of ways. I'm confused and shattered and life seems a great effort. But the other day a good friend told me "Marty, it's obvious. Your soul is intact." I almost cried.
I no longer wish to hold the earth still, but I want it to turn at exactly the right speed: not so slow that it's too painful to bear and not so fast that I miss one second.
Friends and family, thank you for being my partners in this. I need you.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

water and life

Much of the last few years for me has felt like a big fuzzy swirling question mark. Occasionally a moment stands clear like the first sight of land from a foggy sea. For a few breaths I'm convinced I'm in the right place at the right time. It's the most self-interested experience I can have, and possibly the most important. I've had a few of these in the last month. I am grateful for each one.
-that night swim in the starry universe of the Red Sea
-coming down the hill from the checkpoint on my bicycle, middle of the night, warm wind on my face, eyes closed as long as I dare
-my self-baptism in the Jordan River a few days ago.
-floating on my back in the Sea of Galilee and looking at the lights of Tiberias glowing soft and red on the water.

In each of these moments I found peace. It was great.