Moments occur one after another. Each one destroys the last and replaces it with something improved. My mind expanded and my soul branded. Not every moment is one of expected wonder. A simple bus ride, where I slip in my headphones. The opening chords of This Charming Man pour into my being. It feels like Johnny Marr is playing my soul. The music adds another layer of wonder to the world passing me by as the bus makes it’s way to Palenque. I feel this way because I practice gratitude. I try to love each moment. Fuck living in the moment. Love the moment and if I can’t then I create moments I can love. Life is short. Too short to spend it as a prisoner of my own negativity.
Palenque is a wonderful sight that poses many questions. There is a wonderful vibrancy in the air which was helped by the fact there were few tourists when I was there. The guide explained that when the farming season was over the rulers of the time needed to keep the people busy so they had them building. They used fear to keep them in line and busyness to keep them distracted. I thought it sounded like a similar formula that has been used throughout time. I asked how Palenque isn’t better known and he said that Chichen Itza was closer to Cancun so it receives more traffic. I have to admit that the complex of Palenque, considering only 5% is uncovered, was far superior to Chichen Itza. The location and the building combine to make it an eerie yet spectacular experience. The trees break the sunlight to create an environment straight from a fairy tale. Even the relentless heat can do nothing to deter my exploration.
Many of the places I have visited in Mexico so far raise the question not only did they build many of these places but what is our true potential. What are we capable of? What world are we capable of creating?
Maybe Herbert Marcuse, in One-dimensional man, was right about the counter-culture being the ones that will change the world. As more and more young people seek out experiences over materialism. Many have their eyes opened and feel a deeper connection to the people they meet than the people they know back home. Kindred spirits seeking a connection. A reality that isn’t artificial. Some have tried the normal way of life and have found it vacuous. A shallow existence that doesn’t cater to the greatest human experience. Life as a foie gras goose is not in everyone’s interest. Life is a varied and exciting existence for many. One of wonder and beauty. One of divine moments. Interwoven and always happening. If we choose to see them.
I never saw them until I took a step back and looked at life. Watched it happening. That’s when I began to see how insane the whole thing is. Normality included. An existence of clinging to a constant in a world of change is like kicking water uphill. Yet we claim it to be the best option and fear change. People on the tube dressed in colourless clothes with deadened expressions claiming to be victorious in life. We should be looking and laughing at the madness of it all. All the divisions that keep us from collaborating when looked at with impartiality are clearly laughable. Bread and circuses. Created to keep us fighting and producing. Just like those temple builders. I bet they gave themselves a pat on the back for a job well done and all.
“But we have to work!” of course but we could internalise the process of contentment and thus reduce the need for ever-increasing consumption. Defined by the labels, lost and unsure of who we are. The thoughts don’t align with reality. So instead of listening to ourselves we suppress the thoughts and try to shoehorn ourselves into lives that don’t suit. Moments can’t be appreciated because the nature of life is now escapism from the thought that something is amiss. That life is passing us by with ever-increasing pace just like the busyness we use to distract.
The question that I keep asking myself is “Am I just consuming experiences? Am I just escaping just like everyone else?”
For example, I was heading down a river in a speed boat. A beautiful European woman next to me. I was humbled by the magnitude of the mountains either side. Their size a reminder that I am but a tiny part of this huge world. A small piece that has the capacity to do great harm or great good, it is but a choice. At this moment, I get the thought that it is a dream. That the speed boat, the woman and the moment will one day be nothing more than a memory. Because eventually, I will have to return to reality. I am not living my life I am on parole from reality and one day I will return. I could have dwelled on this thought. I could have let it ruin my moment, my day, my travels but I didn’t. I accepted that it was a possibility but I know not what the future holds. The thought dissipated and I return to being humbled by the mountains.
My head can trip me up if I let it. I can be my own worst enemy or my own best friend. I can ruin my day or make it great. It is perception. It is a lot easier to do when the scenery is a constant barrage of beauty. The Gulf of Mexico offers a fantastic distraction from the long bus journeys. Pristine beaches, populated only by a variety of birds, presents an image straight out of a holiday brochure. People all around me on the bus stare into mobile phones. Their minds elsewhere. They are removed from the moment. Living someone else’s illusion.
If scenery is food for the eyes then nature is my favourite restaurant.
As now I don’t have an answer to why I am travelling. Originally, it was a gift to myself for reaching five years without a drink but I am getting so much more from it than seeing the sights. I know so far my confidence has grown. My Spanish has improved marginally. I have a love for Tacos that I didn’t have before. I have made friends with people from all over the world. I feel present and in love with life. But if I only feel that way whilst travelling then isn’t it just another, healthier form of escapism as drink or drugs? Time will tell but if it makes me feel this connected then the only option may be to keep travelling and become a digital nomad.
How do you walk back into reality after dancing in paradise?