The Threshold of Certainty
Nantes – 5 Sept 2016
I’m there sitting at a nameless cafe with the world and myself. I’m only half-way through my drink, though I don’t feel like finishing it at this point. It’s just us two, seated together at a table near the window, the only source of light at this conversation. While the uncomfortable tension is finely focused, our gaze is just nearly off. Nothing willing to speak of at first, nothing to regard. Tired lovers we are. And that is where I am, to ask, “Why am I still in this relationship with traveling?”
Complicated is a simplified word to describe my situation, but it works well when trying to explain the threshold of my certainty at this time. My conversation with the world right now is like two lovers nearing their end, the one with their glacial stare, trying to understand, “What the fuck happened and why are you being so rude about this?” The other who’s eyes barely can barely stay up, gone now, with little to no interest in evening carrying any more weight. They have tried to work out their differences in the past, but maybe the pulling has been too much, too far worn to be worth mending.
It’s okay, I’m okay, really. I’m okay. But today I felt the first cold air of the autumn and I’m feeling a cold acknowledgment with my time here in France and my time traveling. At first I tried to argue with my travel decisions, as I’m always doubting, but I think back to a time laboring over a farm in southeast Raleigh, North Carolina, shovel in hand, standing over a pile of wood chips, steaming in contrast with the coldest August air I’ve ever felt. I felt so brittle that morning and I knew so well then that it was time to go back home.
I can’t quite remember what brought me to the threshold of certainty then. It’s hard to know as these things are a cocktail of variables, but I remember recognizing that unless I chose to set roots there would be nothing more to grow or release or change from such experience. At this point with traveling the thought of going forward feels more like moving backward. Not only does the thought of more travel seem like a physically exhausting travail, but it also demands the mental capacity and motivation to handle all of the logistics finding a place to sleep, how long will I stay, finding wi-fi to connect with hosts, where am I on the map, and so on. I’m ready to begin again, but not in the sense of more traveling (though I recognize that there is far more travels ahead of me, possibly up until next year).
I’ve been thinking of going back for some time now. There is this lingering of a voice from a sweet, elderly woman of Bretagne, mother of Loïc and Christophe, who while driving me through the historic streets of Vannes, asked me, clearly despite her broken English, “is all this travel worth suffering to understand yourself?”
The little Buddhist in me would say, “no.” Yet, despite the darkness of night veiled behind a cloud of light, there is still a star resonating rather, and surprisingly, brightly. There is one more place I would like to visit before heading back home. In which case, there is still a little further to go before I go back. As I have wrote before about an account with a friend in Albuquerque, New Mexico, driving to the airport, flipping through my flight itinerary, trying to understand the absurdity of the airline routing of the planes I was taking, first back, then forward, too far however, and then finally back again to return. A simple observation from my friend Amir, quite the sage he is, “Sometimes you need to go too far before you come back and sometimes you have to go go back too far before you can return.”
So, friends, hope to see you soon.