A Note From Nowhere

nowhere HDR

There is a peculiar joy to being nowhere, where nobody expects you to be someone you may not be. We all wear our masks, different ones for different occasions, and after years of wearing masks it’s difficult to know who one really is anymore.

My first day in the new place was what some would call, ‘wasted’ – I slept the entire day and the following night, waking only for food that, as luck would have it in this quiet nook of the world, is superb. There was some pressure here and there to go and do things afterward, to go see this, to go see that, to run amok like… a tourist.

I’m not a tourist. This is my planet. I’m not quite sure what the rest of you are doing here, and right now I’m fairly sure I don’t care what you’re doing here as long as it doesn’t interfere with me.

I explore. A man walks up to me, speaking in his own language, his own dialect, slowly – the uncertain manner in which different cultures and languages greet each other. I am offered an array of products, quietly, and am told that he can get anything I want. I listen keenly, staring downward as if in deep concentration. He is shocked when I raise my head, look him in the eye and respond in the same language and dialect, quickly, that I thank him for the offer and that I already have everything I need.

Shocked, he walks off quickly. He doesn’t know where I’ve been, what I’ve done, but he’s certain at this point that I’ve been here before.

Slowly, over the course of the next few days, having been spoken to – politely, if not insistently – about what products and services are available, they fade into the background. Each one gets a slightly different story from me of who I am, where I’m from, what I do… It doesn’t matter. I’m not here to impress anyone. I’d likely fail anyway.

Now and then a new face shows up and does the same, only to find the same response… Slowly, I expect by the time I leave, they will find that all I really wanted was to be left alone and that I was simply being polite instead of perhaps how I might feel in the moment, if only because I understand that they are making a living here in this quiet place, and that I am staying in a place where tourists frequent.

A person looks at my camera – almost ancient in terms of Moore’s Law – and the lense I’m using. He’s quick to point out that he does photography, that he has a better lense, that he knows how to buy photography equipment. Maybe he does. Maybe he doesn’t. I listen to him and politely tell him I know what I’m doing.

This, of course, is not true – but it’s as true as him knowing what he’s doing. The photography gear challenge is a money-pit. Learn to use what you have better.

I’m not a tourist anywhere on this planet. If we were to have a gift shop for the planet, I would like to be the curator because I’ve been offered so many things over the years from all over the world. Perhaps the authentic Egyptian hookah will be to my liking, boxed with a better image of the hookah on the box than what lays within? Perhaps something put together with coconuts, somewhat imaginatively? Or how about a drink that is mixed within a fruit? The infatigable t-shirts that allow you to prove that you have been to wherever you are, maybe a small replica of a building – the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building? My personal favorite: the shot glass.

And yet, tourists travel the planet and pick up these items to put them on shelves.

The experience is why I go to places – not the frantic schedule of the tourist who simply must do everything so that they can tell their friends that they did it, but absorbing what a place actually is, absorbing the environment, watching how people do things and learning – and when asked, maybe giving them some ideas from somewhere else.

Being nowhere can be difficult. And yet, ultimately, it’s rewarding.

Thanks to those who sent me missives, received here in Nowhere, regarding the anniversary of my escape from my mother.

Snippets

Another time variation3The light flickers and shifts around me as I change again, as things around me change, and the world is re-evaluated. It is why I haven’t written in so long; I was not ready. And so, snippets.

Influenza

I lay in bed, shivering with fever, unable to sleep and unable to get up. My mother died recently of the flu, her body found only through her having left hot water running and leaking from her apartment – I imagine under the door into the hallway. Mortality. I think about that too much perhaps because I thought of it too little, but I do not obsess. It’s just a snippet, a landmark with new meaning.

Mr.

It’s hard to say when people stopped using my first name and started referring to me as ‘Mr.’. It bothered me. It stopped bothering me recently, I’ve fallen into an unfamiliar role as people pay me respect I am uncertain how I have earned from them in a world where the default setting has always seemed otherwise. What has changed?

I suppose I have decided, finally, that I am worthy of that respect. And that leads me to wonder why I didn’t think I was before, why it made me uncomfortable enough to crawl out of my own skin.

It doesn’t matter, but that it did does. It speaks of things I do not speak of, wounds never tended, fractures never set. They call the resulting sculpture, “Mr.”

Culture

A culture of one, a culture of many. I watch as people who identify with cultures war with each other by simply not communicating, shouting at each other. Once I would try to get them to understand each other. No longer; they are happy at war. Everyone who disagrees is a barbarian. As a person grounded in technology before and after the Internet, the thought that this was not the future we wanted to build sticks in my mind. We carefully moved Humpty Dumpty up one level of bricks every evolution of Moore’s Law, hoping he wouldn’t fall simply because he had not fallen yet.

The omelettes have begun.

Life washes over me differently now. Less of what used to matter seems to matter. I watch children fighting over their toys and no longer step in. They have to figure it out. If they don’t, it won’t matter. If they do, it will.

Life goes on.

Retrospect.

San Fernando Hill Views (2016)

Depth requires perspective, and perspective requires depth.

Intelligence requires wisdom, but wisdom does not require intelligence.

Wisdom requires time and experience, but the experience does not have to be within the same sphere.

In fact, sometimes it’s better if it’s not.

Levels

The student, introduced
Learns silence and gets it
The clapping crowd silences
Harmony weeps in respect
The strings move
The strings stretch
The strings come to life
As is their nature.

Once in motion
They seek harmony
And find it only in
Calloused fingers
Steel tendons
And the unforceful hand
Of the master,
the Student.