Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Great Grey Clouds

It is time to sweep.

Sweep up the layers of Sahara sandstorms never written about, the malarial lone travels across Togolese boarders, and the illegal Beninese motorcycling I would have loved to pay tribute to in words. But it is time to sweep up the memories that have been silently biting at me all summer, in order to finally move on. So, with a few tattered sentences holding the spaces for those memories, I resolve to let them rest in full richness only in my mind. The nice thing about sweeping, however, is that although at times a rather dirty process, it is always a good way to come clean. And at the crossroads of another adventure, clarity is most welcome.

So sweeping up West Africa with one swoop (insert frantic broom noise), I am ready to embrace the new. And what a delightful handful of new has been tossed my way since the last entry! I went from sweating profusely to the tune of tongues pouring in through a small window, to the cool summer rain of a Durango thunderstorm where I sit today. Time is a potent force. And this summer has been entirely too exemplary of its drastic impact.

The past two months I've been living in Boulder, Colorado, working at the Consciousness laboratory at Naropa University. Naropa is one of the only accredited Buddhist Universities in the world, and has been one of the major reasons my conception of reality (what a hefty assertion makes she!) has been cracked open this summer. Ironically, this crack-age was partially due to working on a project concerning quantification of a person's worldview- a line of research that is dangerously qualitative, yet unbelievably interesting (as well as absurdly thought provoking in the realm of my own worldview). I've had the pleasure of working with Dr. Peter Grossenbacher, who quickly morphed into a not only a figure of respect, but a profound role model in my life. Looking back at my decision making process for working at Naropa this summer, rather than the Cognitive Neuroscience lab in Denver or the fleets of other places I applied to, I realize hunches sometimes are worth following.

After all of this contortionist work, bending myself through different countries (13 so far this year), it was returning to the dear old Rockies of my birth that have fostered growth (curse you Candide!). Although, I am not sure if growth is even the right word for what has happened. It feels more like regression to a temporarily, but necessarily, set aside person. Perhaps forgetting yourself for awhile is a good way to remember. Rather than constructing yet another guise for a temporary place (a process I am making an art form out of), this summer I've been working on the process of unmasking. And as a product, I feel a sense of very real happiness. Wild bike rides, summer flowers, babbling books, thick books, geeky intellectualism, poetry slams, late night stupor and new faces have also been contributions to this feeling of satisfaction. Ahhh sweet summer, you have been so good to me this time around! And for that I am thankful.

So, setting overly dramatic life changing narratives of self discovery aside, I am proud to announce the next chapter: India. Three days stand before me and another transatlantic plane ride. But this time, unlike the others, it feels like I am flying towards an old friend. Homeward, these shoes.

So, alas, let the all too familiar ritual of goodbye and hello commence. The process of leaving has taken all forms in the past: complete earth-shattering sadness, numbness, and incredible joy, but this time it has a new texture. I recognize a large component of this leaving is sorrow, but one that is conditionally linked to acceptance. Ephemerality is no longer comparable to a rainbow, an analogy I've frequented, but the grey clouds left drifting in its aftermath. This kind of constancy, one that supports, but is not encompassed by ephemerality, feels very graceful to me. And although faces fluctuate and geographical distances shift, I realize my body and heart, the shreds of constancy in this transient equation, have the capacity to hold them.

And for that I feel whole, drifting.

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