Good morning, lovebirds.
Boy, I feel really single right now! I realized yesterday that my 2 of my best friends, who have been single for a while, both have found partners that they’re really into, and these precious people haven’t had a life partner in years – like me. So now that they’re all happy with this new development, and I’m glad for them, I also feel like “shit! I gotta get on this relationship thing!”
Just kidding. But seriously. Also on this topic, I have written down ideas for my soon-to-be new-and-updated dating profile. LOL. This excites me. Also, I have some, in my mind, really good speed dating questions and date ideas –I’m sure I won’t have any success anyway, so it won’t really matter. Que pena!
So now that I’ve been on this Hacienda (it’s like a resort in the country on a lake that city-folks with lots of money pay to “get away”). Funny, right? And the best thing??? Most of them actually stay for one night, without doing any of the activities (kayaking, fishing, hikes, walking around) because they want to have a more luxurious sleeping experience than a hostel, and this is the closest thing in the area to a fancy hotel. I just think it’s CRAZY, but then again, my world is very different from theirs.
So here I am – working 5 hrs a day for a really filling lunch and a breakfast/dinner of coffee, bread, jam, and butter. I feel kind of scammed because if 2 of your “3 meals a day” are just bread and butter and jam, you’re kind of leading people on with the whole 3 meals a day description – even if lunch is really good and really filling and about half the time, you can have the leftovers as your “dinner”. I finally broke down and bought oatmeal just so I can have something substantive for breakfast and when I don’t have leftovers for dinner.
But enough about my situation which really isn’t a big deal. I get to practice Stoicism and being content in all things! And I’m certainly not starving lol.
Time for fun things about me!
First, I have a nice morning routine, or a “rutina de madrugada” – I need to be ready to work at 9, and I wake up at 630 every day to see the sunrise. Normally this means getting out of bed at 7, making coffee and oatmeal and immediately going outside so I don’t miss it! I don’t think I’ve ever seen the sunrise more than 3 days in a row, and this will be 2 weeks straight! Hearing the birds calling to each other and greeting the morning, noticing the sky slowly become brighter, and enjoying the crisp (cold) quiet is a different experience for me, and it’s “vale la pena” or worth the pain. Then, once the sun is up, I go clean my dishes, change my clothes from the warmest-possible to work-ready clothes and do some boxing exercises, 75 push-ups, and yoga/stretching/meditation. I make sure I’m ready and outside a little before 9, because I know the lady in charge cares a lot about punctuality. Like my father, for her, early is on-time and on- time is late. 🙂
Secondly, my mind is basically a collection of these thoughts: “Don’t spend any money”, “I’m broke”, “How can I make what I want to have?”, and “How can I not contribute to the excessive waste in society?” I was reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, and he build his own house in 2 months from a pre-existing shanty (a small 10×15’ house, mind you), so I’m finding inspiration for my own life. For instance, instead of buying things, I’ve decided to build my own table (super easy if it’s not fancy or nice), use a chainsaw to make “chairs” from tree stumps, build my own bookshelves and art shelves, and co-create my own apartment/house decorations with things from nature (except for Picasso prints which obviously are beyond my artistic/creative ability). I don’t need anything nice, and if anyone would judge me negatively for these things, then we wouldn’t be friends! LOL. I’m really enjoying mentally preparing myself for minimizing purchases (either making my own things or exchanging work for products) – I like the creativity such a lifestyle evokes, and I’m gaining inspiration while I’m here on this nature resort.
Thirdly, I’m getting much more accustomed to … I’m not sure how to explain it better than “no-thought presence”. I’ll find myself staring off into space, or meditating, or watching water ripple on the lake, and notice that I haven’t had a thought in some time. I’m a little worried, if I’m honest, about becoming accustomed to this and then being disoriented when I go back to the city life where my mind is racing with to-do lists and places to be and things to buy – but I also find this new state of mind to be so valuable that I’m also worried about losing it also. I’m excited to do a 10-day silent retreat, and hopefully more time afterwards, at some monastery, and there are a couple near Santiago that I will contact when I finally have stronger wifi.
Fourth, I’m trying to reshape my narrative of Argentina. Let’s take a step back. For the past two months while in Chile and Argentina, I would say that my experiences with Chileans have been more positive. As a general rule, and there are exceptions of course, they seem more open, friendly, and helpful than Argentinians. I get picked up more often as a hitchhiker (probably about twice as fast, maybe faster), and when we talk together, it does seem as if they are more open to strangers and more fun. I once told a Danish couple about my experiences and how I preferred Chileans, and once I had shaped, formulated, and told myself this difference between Chile and Argentina, it colored my interactions with them. Now I had a narrative with which to organize, and interpret, my experiences and memories in Patagonia (which encompasses both countries). My mindset even began coming up with other reasons to not like Argentinians because I didn’t like how their ATMs would only allow you to withdraw $130 at a time (Chile is like $400) and then charge me $8 for doing so (versus $5 in Chile) – something that surely isn’t related to my experiences with the people. Looking back, I realized that this mindset was paying attention to the negative experiences but would gloss over the really positive experiences that I had (with the park ranger in Ushuaia, the Buenos Aires guy during our hike at Laguna Esmeralda, my two other friends in Buenos Aires who I met in Colombia, the family who bought me a sandwich after picking me up hitchhiking, the cool guy in El Chalten who let me wash my clothes for free).
The importance isn’t in those little parenthetical notes which are for my memory purposes and not for any readers I might have of this blog haha, but rather in how the stories allow for a multiplicity of narratives. When we have one narrative, based on a single experience, or even a couple experiences (or the media), but discount other stories that threaten that narrative, then we can get stuck in a rigid perception and our future experiences may be colored by this perception. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy in one way: if you expect people to act closed and stiff, you’ll act differently around them – perhaps more closed and stiff toward them which invites them to be closed and stiff toward you. Maybe people can even unconsciously perceive this and their mind acts accordingly. Moreover, it can be a self-fulfilling narrative even if no one’s behavior is affected, because you remember the bad times and forget the good times!
Once I realized this, I decided to change this, starting with my memories and then allowing the memories to change the narrative that I tell myself. I remembered that I’ve met some really great Argentinians. In fact, I stay in contact with 4 of them to this day and look forward to meeting up with them in Buenos Aires. I thought about how my favorite cities in Patagonia were all in Argentina – Ushuaia, El Calafate, El Chalten. I thought about how Argentina has many political and social problems (seemingly always) and yet the people persist and endure and maintain generally positive outlooks – even if not, it seems to me, as friendly as economically-stronger Chile. I thought about how beautiful the scenery and the architecture and layout of towns are, and how I get energized just walking around them. I thought about how Argentina has oreos, and Chile doesn’t. (LOL haha.) I thought about how the Argentinians are much easier to communicate with because they have far less slang than Chileans. Some of the nicest and most generous people I’ve met in Patagonia were in Argentina. Anyway, I’m working on doing some self-work for seeing and recognizing greater complexity and depth – even as I recognize that narratives and filters of experience are necessary as part of the human experience.
(I know this is really long but I really like this point, so please hang in there!)
Fifthly, and lastly, perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned while traveling is to FOLLOW YOUR TRUE NORTH. What a powerful lesson this is, and what a blessing it is to have the insight and willpower to be able to do this. For me, I am often swayed and affected by others – whether it’s what this group of people want to do, or pressure to follow the crowd along the “gringo trail.” I’ve certainly gotten better at following my true north – oh my goodness, have I gotten better. Camping and being solo, both of which take you away from most others (especially those on the gringo trail) have done wonders for me to become better attuned to myself and the depth of my own being, and I’ve done that for most of my two months here!
Anyway, as an illustration and realization, I was reading Nietzsche at the lake, and suddenly felt that on a deep level, I understand him and his points. Yes, I think I understood his points earlier, as I have read almost all of Nietzsche’s works at numerous times in my life, but I feel saturated with him now. Whether it’s his view on religion, memory, time, change, strength, or other topics – we are often in alignment. In fact, Nietzsche is the only person who ever had a vision of greatness that was so grand, so powerful, so alluring, so compelling, that reading him would make me feel like my life was a failure. Truly, no one spoke to my heart and penetrated to my depths, my values, my priorities like Nietzsche. Nietzsche can penetrate my deep waters and stir the mud in my core until my primary values are all clouded and disturbed and disorganized.
But there is an important part of Nietzsche that I find myself in greater and greater disagreement – probably because I’m learning more about myself and am gaining confidence in who I am and my self-understandings/self-narratives. The great man, for him, is isolated, not following the masses along with their petty problems or ways of escaping pain and slavish obedience to moral norms and social customs. The great man is lonely. But I know that I get great joy of being with people, even in their small problems – perhaps especially with their every-day living. After all, that’s where I think the beauty, significance, and preciousness of life is found: in the day-to-day. One can find Nirvana in cleaning grains of rice, as the Zen Buddhists say; don’t wait for powerful moments to hit you at certain times for life’s beauty is always simultaneously penetrating through and hidden by the mundane and the routine. Moreover, Nietzsche’s great man is always overcoming, being self-directed, self-caused, being above the petty customs and rules of society – as Nietzsche says, “his own conclusion and his own sunrise.” To whatever extent I agree to him and utilize deconstructionism, I am an outsider right now (in language, culture, attitude, lifestyle), and I find myself finding greater and greater affinity, resonance, and even delight with the basics of human society: customs of politeness, order and structure and one’s place, and the corresponding duties and responsibilities thereof. (For instance, I’m really glad that I had the 4 years of experience of working an 8-5, getting promoted at my job, paying off my student loans, and saving up money.)
Thus, I feel the need to leave Nietzsche behind. Like one feels toward a teacher who has brought you as far as they can, I feel appreciation and gratitude for their influence, but also a confidence and surety in my need and drive to move on. I am trying to follow where my “true north” leads. I like the picture of Nietzsche and I both being planets, having different orbital routes circumambulating around the same sun of strength and self-determination.