Clouds, so impermanent, advise her that reality is a mere dream. The illusion of solidity in their shape and comforting forms is exactly that, illusion, disappearing as temperature changes, wind blows or night extinguishes day. Why would a cloud be other than this? I marvel at such simplicity. I will endeavour to leave clouds to their journey, not fall in love with them in any other way than to share their pleasure of being vaporous perfection.
It’s Sunday and I’m in the most beautiful city in the world.
Cigarette butts crushed into broken tiles.
At my feet is another death, in the street,
Broken buildings and hollow dreams.
I’m in her arms like a stillborn child.
Feeling nothing, it seems,
It is Minus 11 in Berlin.
Heart rate slow.
It’s Minus 12 in Berlin.
Heart is warming.
I think of the Life, Death, Rebirth cycle.
Again and again and again.
Thank you Clarissa Pinkola Estés.
Sometimes I just miss people. I want to hold them in my arms and feel their heart beat. I want to look into their souls. Share stories. Linger in all the delicious ways. This isn’t lust. There are many ways to be in the world. Lust has its place. But the kind of desire I speak of is a love so deep that it may only last a second yet find perfection. The willingness to be absolutely present. This is not a contradiction. The longing is a sweetness, something that poetry holds hands with and prose takes a long walk through aimless streets.
I’m on a bus. Denmark has faded into the distance and now I’m passing through wind generator infested fields on the way to Berlin. You know I care about climate change. I’ve even vowed not to get on a plane again so that could very bad news for anyone expecting me back soon. I guess there’s always sea travel but I can’t decide what worries me more… pirates or seasickness. I’ll start by doing laps of the sauna. (I know that doesn’t make sense but they’re great).
News trickles through to the remote corners of the world where I’ve been thigh deep in snow, that Australia has been experiencing a heatwave. When I was in Russia someone told me that Sydney had 48 degrees that day. He wasn’t Russian. In general, they’re not friendly with foreigners, unless one is in a sparse, white-tiled community bathhouse with a crowd of large, naked women. Trust me, it was fabulous. If only I had my sketchbook and charcoal.
Along with breathtaking architecture and cheap hostels that were once palaces, and some photo opportunities that were golden, the lack of smiles was a constant during my three weeks in post Soviet Russia.
When I arrived in Stockholm, laughter surprised me and the variety of different backgrounds were striking. What a relief to be amongst other humans who could laugh even when life isn’t perfect. It was still minus 5, the metro crowded and I was a foreigner. Of course I loved Russia but a huge thank you to the Swedes, Norwegians and Danish people for being you. I had a fabulous time and I’m sure I’ll go back for my friend’s wedding in August, assuming I manage the next round of paperwork in France.
I’m making my way back to France slowly. There’s a whole mini series in my dental tourism escapades that happen before I get there. Hello Budapest.. I don’t require being picked up at the airport or help with a discounted hotel but bus and hostel will be fine to get me to your lovely dental suites. 12 February. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, Berlin with its politics, art, contact improvisation and some lovely friends are less than an hour away. I’m excited! The bus is approaching Frankfurt and it’s time I started looking out the window.
Take care, smile and give hugs. It’s a wonderful gift.
PS I didn’t pose naked in the snow but I did take the photograph.
It’s true, cities are not places for wild goats. It’s difficult to reflect amongst the chaos of a human built landscape, unless it’s on our generation of narcissists. This is not personal. Who hasn’t taken a gratuitous selfie once in a while? I’m right in there, fudging the edges with art in my heart. You know me, I adore a good self-portrait, usually without clothes.
Now that I have a backpack instead of a room and a bank account that dives gracefully toward the abyss, I’ve crossed borders and fallen in love with a number of foreign places. All on the cheap. Hitch-hiking. Sleeping in my tent. Washing under greek waterfalls or in post-soviet sauna houses. Wherever I find myself, there are people with smartphones. We Insta and Facebook, Gab, Google+, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Viber, VK, WeChat, Weibo, WhatsApp, Wikia, Snapchat and YouTube. Sometimes we even email friends who are detoxing from social media overload. Then we write blogs.
Yesterday I went to The Winter Place of Peter the Great. Yes, I’m in St Petersburg where people rarely smile, unless they are really happy. That can be infuriating but somehow, in a world of manufactured happiness and political turmoil, perhaps it is a good thing.
I’m about to squeeze this hulk between solid stone buildings that have withstood two world wars and four hundred years of seasonal change, love and laughter in the Aveyron. I’m not the first. This is the through road between wheat fields on high and the ancient moulins along the river that ground the grain to fine flour for the communal bread ovens. Tractors, horses, wagons, and more recently cars and the occasional truck have traversed this route. Today I’m driving the old Mercedes.
I’ve been in Europe for six months now. Hitching my way around France and Greece, meeting the strange, the interesting and the humorous along my way. Striding with backpack or pedalling the tiny trails that connect villages. I don’t drive cars. I’m on the wrong side of the road, the wrong side of the car, and I’m trying to brake with my right foot on the pedal. Sure I have been granted a temporary French permit to drive, but do I really want to exchange a life of adventurous travel for the easy option? I will decide after I have safely parked the car on the wild and wintery hill-top back at my friend’s house.