Friday, March 4, 2016

There is no paradise

I recently spent  hours watching Bob Dylan videos on You Tube.  I found myself doing this after I read a New York Times article about how a previously unknown vast collection of his archives has been acquired for $15 to $20 million by a group of Oklahoma institutions. The Times was allowed to preview this collection and the article contains photos of some of  original typed and hand corrected lyrics.  Fascinating and important.

Watching the videos I was, again, struck by, what appears to me to be,  his absolute refusal to play by other peoples rules.  I believe he is trying to live his life with as much authenticity possible despite the incessant, twisting glare of fame that seems to constantly try to define and diminish him.  He seems to be constantly fighting to stay as alive as possible trying to remain open to new ideas, insights, and vehicles of expression despite the baggage the world will never let him leave behind.  He's one of my heroes both for the art he has made and the life that he has lived.

What's this have to do with Mexico and me?  The connection I'm feeling is about honesty.  Bob, once again, reminded me of the importance of trying to see and express things as they really are.  Not to have living become some semblance of reality buffered and distorted by expectations or desires.

I've enjoyed writing about this trip we're on but I feel that I'm not giving you the real scoop.  I want you to be part of this trip with me and I think I fear that you'll bail if it gets too real.  Quoting John Prine (another hero of mine) "you know I could of had me a million more friends, and all I had to do was lose my point of view."  This hesitation seems especially strong this time around.  I think it has to do with the fact that I specifically invited friends and family to read this blog as the trip progressed. I never have done something like that before and I think it has made me more gun shy than usual.

So, thanks to Bob's inspiration, I'm going to share some stuff I haven't been writing about that may be a little too unvarnished for some of you.

I'm ready to come home.  We've been traveling for six weeks now and still have three to four weeks of travel left but the truth is, right now,  I'd rather be home in Endicott sitting in the basement singing, and playing my Guild six string, seeing and hugging my daughter,  having lunch with friends and going to church.  Crazy.  I spent months in deep,  heavy,  planning  and expectation for this trip but now its reached the point where it's more about going back than going away.  This doesn't mean the trip has been a bust.  For the most part it's been wonderful.  I feel guilty telling you that I'd like to be home.  It oddly feels like a confession of failure. On the bright side, maybe that's one of the big reasons for going away.  It helps you appreciate being home.

We're flying to the Pacific coast on Monday and spending a week in a beach-front room in the small village of San Agustinillo.  I'll try to suffer through it. ;)

We've been sick a lot.  
Our lungs have felt crappy since we've been in Oaxaca.  This is probably a combination of fumes from lots of street traffic and the 5000 ft elevation.  I had to use my Albuterol inhaler a lot more than usual and both of us have had to spend a couple of days in bed because of lung issues.  I also was sick with a stomach virus for  most of last week.  I'll spare you the details.

We're probably not coming back to Oaxaca next year.  
This is a hard realization and admission.  I'd previously thought that this would be our "home away from home" that we'd gradually spend more and more time here as we walked into the sunset.  Not happening.  Reality trumps fantasy once again.  Reasons?

Air pollution is probably not going to improve and our lungs will be more vulnerable each year.

Realization that "friends" at the hotel we've been returning to each year will probably never be more than acquaintances that we see for awhile during our time here.  It's a hard fact of life, at least for me,  that the real intimacy that I long for with others requires an investment of time and effort that's just not in the cards for these trips.  We've met some wonderful people and it will be sad if we don't see them again but not sad enough to make us return.

The hotel we've been staying at remains affordable and very pleasant.  The staff are warm and helpful and it's located in a very convenient part of town.  This year, however, for the first time we've run into problems making reservations for the following year.  Initially we were told we had a room reserved for February, 2017.  Yesterday I received an email from the hotel saying we've been placed on a waiting list for next year.  I had an awkward and unpleasant conversation with a hotel staff person about this.  Not sure what's going on.  We've loved staying here but will probably not return.

I literally feel sick to my stomach when I think about him and his campaign.  Vulgar.  Ugly.  Last night I let my guard down and watched the Republican debate.  He proudly announced that he would reinstitute torture that would go beyond waterboarding and he would have no compunction about targeting a terrorists family.  How vile.   The Mexicans, Canadians and Europeans I've met are afraid and confused by his popularity.  So am I.  My hope is that the end product of this descent into darkness will be a resurrection and strengthening of our democratic principles.  That hope has grown rather dim lately.

Yes, there is no paradise,  no blissful escape from reality and, for me, the deepening of that realization is another gift of travel.

I hope you and the people you love are happy and well.