Life in the Gray


While at work, I was browsing the possibilities of a buddhist retreat in India. As one does on the overnight shift.  With plans of a year abroad in Australia to make experiences, friends, treasured memories and of course a few dollars to feed my wanderlust when my 365 days expire.

My plan is to travel South East Asia post Oz. I don’t have a hopeful amount of time or specific goal in mind, it just seems like a corner of the world I was once too afraid to visit sola where now I feel a craving to see. Most of my travel ideas are based on movies or books, I will admit.

When asked about my 5 months abroad in Europe and more specifically my time in Spain I sort of breeze over the part where I mention I went to the south of Spain – Malaga and Torremolinos solely because this is where part of my favorite book takes place. Most people look at me strangely and only a few, nerdy people relish the fact that I essentially went 624 miles out of my backpacking way or 3,670 miles away from my everyday life on a literary pilgrimage.

Generally un-prodded past the fact that I went is the fact that when I got to Malaga it wasn’t everything I dreamed.  I can’t say I was surprised however I was a little heartbroken when I arrived and didn’t find the 60s. In fact, the closing line of the book itself is “Men ought to inspect their dreams and know them for what they are.” And I did.

One of the newest stories that hit home (surprisingly) is “Eat, Pray, Love.” However, more so the movie than the book. In fact, I find the book a little hard to even get through EAT. A charming Julia Roberts, as Liz, goes to India to an ashram she discovered by dating a boy back in New York. I would love the opportunity to visit and participate in an Ashram.

So I was looking it up on the internet… What went through my head is this: Since I have begun packing (in my head) for Australia I find it to be funny the things I would pack for my time in Oz versus my time in India – esp that time at an ashram. Completely different wardrobe choices and purpose altogether.

The thoughts that rolled through my mind reel included the awful feeling that while pretzeled on a yoga mat in the mountains of India I would be thinking of what I left in Chicago.  Looking for answers on whether I was on the right path and doing the right thing, or if I left for the wrong reasons and was in fact, avoiding something. Despite my tireless effort to prove to people I don’t travel to leave, I travel to live.

Thoughts which include The Boy who is a source of confusion and frustration for me these days. With big words and emotions floating around I realized that it’s okay if I’m not with him forever, but this love he is offering now is important to not only accept, but also feel – NOW and not in 14 months. Especially after living a pretty careless and lavish first world life should I stop and try to attain the spiritual piece that’s missing, from the other side of the world.

I realized I need to work harder at incorporating  and integrating that spiritual peace/piece now. And the feelings I’m feeling now shouldn’t be confused with when a person wants to fall in love with someone (because really who doesn’t?) yet refuses to admit it just doesn’t fit. One shouldn’t have to fight to stay in a relationship, when the person they are fighting with is really just themselves.

I was told this really funny story how he was going to the bank to get money, but didn’t have his ATM card, so had to go to the teller. The teller was assisting someone and was discussing that gentleman’s million dollar transaction. Meanwhile The Boy, there to withdraw a measly $200 turned away and walked out, embarrassed he was there for peanuts compared to this stranger.

Meanwhile I spent 2 days and several hours tracking down people and paperwork to speak to someone in the California Tax Board office for the $226 garnishment they took out of my checking account. With no notice and no purpose of the levy and left it at zero. Money. Perspective. $200 to me is not peanuts. It’s a week’s rent in Australia at this point.

I was told that arguing for my rightfully owned $200 for someone that is “trying not to be materialistic” is petty. I wondered when he had decided I wasn’t materialistic.

Now that I’ve been dedicating a lot of my time to people watching at my local starbucks I have come to some conclusions about the human race. #1) I can never, never, ever generalize again. #2) This bubble I always talk about is not something that everyone is admittedly in or has any interest in popping. My fault.

With #2 in mind, what I do want to do is use my words and experiences as a potential sharp object. Which I will lay down and walk away from and let the reader pick up and chose to do what they will with it.

Some want money, comfort and the known and some others don’t. What seems to not be understood by people of the former description is the impulse to travel and be constantly moving and exploring is less of a choice than a soulful desire. It comes from a place that only a God-like figure could conceive. Deeper than instinct. Inner conflict comes from ignoring this call, or trying to cover it up with money, comfort and the known.  If there’s nothing to cover up, then never stop living on the finer side. If you have any ounce of concern that the big ticket item you are purchasing or hoping to is an attempt to fill the void, then you may be in the bubble.

Going through life hoping for the best, trying to be a good person, trying to be a constructive and helpful part of society is not always enough… or possible. At times, life will get you down simply because other people are not always like you. They have different wants, needs or views. You can’t lock yourself away to avoid the opposition. In fact, I think the only way to find the balance and happiness of the Black vs. White opposition is to immerse yourself in it so you come out with a firm understanding of exactly where you stand in it.

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