. Is this how we present ourselves to the world? It's the flagrant materialism, lack of depth & character, and the inability to articulate oneself, that seems to captivate the average viewer. I know this America, and I try to avoid it at all costs, but what will I find when I return?
Here I am, back where it all began a million moons ago. So much has changed, and yet things are very much the same as they were too. Two pairs of friends are engaged, and two couples have separated. The guy who now lives in my old house has a big ol' dog and a lamp where I had my computer. Z & Josh's house is full of more things and lots of cat hair. Some houses in the neighborhood have been sold, and a new strip mall is being built down the road. The only internet café in the area has disappeared and been replaced with a faux-urban mex-american burrito joint. The cherry trees have already blossomed although it's below freezing each night. Life here has rolled along without my presence, as it should. Had I been working in Atlanta for the last six months, things would have changed and stayed the same as well. I've tried hard not to feel that things should come my way, that I deserve something or that the universe owes me a debt of gratitude for simply existing. Having that type of expectation can lead to disappointment and resentment. Unfortunately, I've had a tendency to avoid asking for help
. Perhaps it's a male flaw, (we hate
ask for directions) but asking for help felt like a confirmation of weakness. "I can do it on my own", I always told myself. Now, I feel that struggling independently when help is offered and needed is a greater weakness. The blessings keep coming my way, and I am so grateful. I have places to stay, a friend's old mattress, and even offers to borrow a car. I've got a little money left, some time to get my bearings and the company of good friends; that is my greatest blessing. I have a tendency to make important decisions as quickly as possible; the more pressing the matter, the more I hesitate to really think things through. I guess the big
decision now is where do I live? And what will I do for work? Part A has two possible answers: Atlanta or NYC. I have always said that I'd like to live in NYC for a year at some point in my life, and now seems like an opportune moment. In Atlanta, I have the life I've built for 4 years just waiting to be lived again. Wherever I decide to live will be a new beginning. The answer for part B has eluded me for a while. I have a tendency to define myself (and judge others) based on my job. I tend to ignore all the interests that bring the most joy and inspiration, and focus on who-I-am-because-of-what-I-do. I struggle with this idea of myself (a lot) and everyday try to find a reasonable way to rationalize my existence. I'm beginning to believe, that I simply need to decide to be happy with whatever job I have and that, WaLa, I'll be happy. The happiness I get from all my other interests will spill over into all aspects of my life and at least make my job tolerable, if not fun. It's a novel concept, I know, but realizing that idea is a daily challenge. I have nothing against working; I've always felt a certain flavor of satisfaction after focusing all my efforts for some tangible result. The problem is that I have this fairy tale idea that there is some magical job or career path that will be my salvation
. Maybe it's everything except
the "job" that will bring me the fulfillment that I'm seeking. The hardest part in making these important decisions are all the options! I have so many varied interests, and can see myself going in many different directions. If only I could pick one...
So what happens to dreams when they are fulfilled? Do they wither and dissolve, banished to the realm of the past, or are they reborn into an unrequited desire? The amazing thing about fulfilling this dream was that it bore little resemblance to what reality served on its plate. Meeting the unknown was a motivation in the first place, but "knowing" didn't lift the veil on this journey. The seeds for future trips have already been planted. India calls for me to return, as does Cambodia. There are too many places in this world for me to visit in this lifetime. I guess it will be a life-long goal to squeeze in as many as possible. In my attempt to bid you farewell, and curb my usage of the adjective "great", I will say adieu. Perhaps in the three years time you can join me on my Absolute Aces, Downright Dynamite, Egregious, Exceptional, Fab Fantastic, First-Rate, Marvelous, Transcendent, Tremendous, Unmitigated and Zero Cool, South American Motorbike Adventure (tm).
Atlanta, Georgia, USA. March 3, 2005
There's a certain phenomenon that I have always experienced before departures. A mixture of anxiety, excitement and terror, I often can't decide if I'll drown in a cascade of tears, or simmer my organs with the fire of anticipation. Many times I struggle not to vomit. These intense physical sensations often occupy a good part of the day before a journey, and usually occur before an important international departure. My return to Atlanta marked the end of this thing I dreamt up two years ago. I anticipated an emotionally charged return, but surprisingly, I felt relatively balanced. (benefits of the meditation experience?). While waiting in my Aunt's house in Haifa, I felt resigned to accelerate time by watching TV. It was a straight-to-video movie about a snowboarding chimpanzee. Is this the America I'm returning too? Much can be deduced by studying the creative expressions of different cultures. How badly have some of our contributions tarnished our image? (snowboarding chimp movies, WWF, the over usage of the word "like", and the movie "Independence Day".) A more recent speculation on American life was the result of watching a "reality show" about 5 Amish kids living with 5 city kids in LA