Thursday, October 26, 2006

The American Experience II : Introspection.

Aye, I've gone to Portland, Oregon, and it has got me thinking.

Indeed, being away from home has my brain running in high gear, thoughts whirling about, evoking strange emotions all over the place, some getting traction and spurring some insight, some simply spinning off to infinity, not to be seen again.

Maybe it's the jetlag, or the caffeine I have consumed in order to fight it. Maybe it's the relative isolation of my brain, the lack of my spouse, with whom I share all things, to help in the processing of events, major and minute, which causes it to think up crazy things to fill its idle time, or maybe just the homesickness in general. Or maybe it's something larger, the sense of time passing, of irrevocability, age and thinning hair, of ultimate mortality.

But of course it's all of these things and more, in particular my own innate propensity for these kinds of thoughts and emotions, I'm just being coy about it, playing the game of rhetorics with whatever tricks I know, phrasing everything to please myself, and conjuring up all kinds of strange, romantic images in my head.

Feeling profoundly present and distant at the same time, I sit at some random cafe, sipping coffee, with far-away eyes, putting on my best intellectual pose, musing as if there were some giant distance between the world inside my skull and outside that my eyes must strain to overcome. To my defense, I actually think as deep and meaningful thoughts as I can.

As real as the actual moment may be, I can't help but thinking about the frailty of it all. It is hard to fathom that both Portland and I can be real at the same time, in the same place, that not one of us simply an illusion - that either I am indeed myself a ghost, or my surroundings a mirage that I could dispel at any moment. It seems to me that the fact that I'll be taking a long flight home tomorrow is more a result of me refusing to wake up from this strange dream than some physical necessity of actually having to transport my consciousness-hosting body from here to there.

Rational thought will have it that my flesh is no doubt as vulnerable here as it is at home, perhaps more so. But it is hard to convince myself of that, for my steps feel light and ghost-like in this foreign land (If I were to cross the street, could a car really hit me, or would it pass straight through me?). My presence here is like some stray, renegade neuron striking out at random, an unpredictable, improbable impulse or thought wandering off into unchartered territory. I am threading a thin line of experience, and with the lack of repetition, the memory of it will flicker, falter, and become unstable, like some dream-like event that you cannot quite make out if ever happened.

But what if the path I walked today, through the streets, under the sycamore trees, crossing the asphalt, skipping in some foreign rhythm, surprisingly light, almost animal-like, to this cafe, and later on, back on the streets, to something else, beyond; what if that path were not trodden once, but a thousand times over, creating a neurological connection in my brain as strong as any, turning it into a heartbeat of my life, a habit executed as easily as breathing, for which no senses were necessary, requiring only the presence of my self?

It has me thinking about the myriads of alternate me's living in their own worlds, similar to mine, yet unsurmountingly different. Still I feel the worlds intertwining, blurring into one another, as if I should any moment meet one of my ghostly twins on some corner, or suddenly looking at me in the window-glass through which I have been staring.

There's a certain sense of loss, of inexplicable sadness and melancholy, that for a while feels so infinite, tossing me recursively into myself.

I resort to various self-constructing acts, repeating my favorite incantations in my head, relaying the old familiar mosaic, and sorely missing the artifacts that somehow seem meaningful to me (How come I left 'Leaves of Grass' at home?). Yet even thinking of them seems to invoke some of their power.

And then, like some mirage-shattering dawn, I feel the counter-force of happiness and belonging, the connection to who I really am, to my wife and my daughter, my life at home, the realization that this unstable presence is indeed temporary, that there exists a well-established pattern somewhere that belongs to me and mine that illuminates everything, and makes it deeply meaningful, whereever I might be.

And so I return to my body, and feel at ease.

Tomorrow I'll be going home.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Masterpieces! Both.
I'm speechless. awestruck.
You stood and stared.
You saw life.
You are illumined.

11:32 PM  

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