Between the Valley and the Mountains (of the Albayzín)

Shantaram

Shantaram

The best writers, in my opinion, are not those who describe the extremes of life. For a great many of us, those are the rare far reaches of humanity, moments we yearn for our entire lives or desperately fear will never occur. It’s difficult to translate someone else’s extreme, as these bookends of the human spectrum so definitively shape one’s own conception of reality and feeling and emotion. Oftentimes, extremes are so personal that they would be ultimately lost in translation, rendering the messenger the carrier of a handful of nothing.

No, the best writers are those who redefine the mundane. They take a moment we all know so intimately, and they bring it into sharp relief. They create a collective consciousness around a sublimity so subversive that they make us feel the descending absences of light behind our eyelids. They have lived on the extremes and have thus centered themselves by calculating the midpoint between their valleys and mountains. For as many times the ego makes a corpse of the soul, self-confidence phoenixes of hope devour the remains to rebirth one’s sense of self – and the best writers remind us of this perennial cycle.

In a way of explaining, this is why I haven’t been writing. A year is full of a million ebbs and flows, rises and falls, lessons learnt and immediately forgotten with a crushing blow or a gentle wind, whichever moves in the right way at the right time. And in experiencing this intense tumult of activity, reflecting to almost literary perfection my own personality discovered in an analysis of the similarities between my “before” and “after” selves, I have taken an unintended sabbatical from writing.

After all, imbalance might add flavor, but balance is what we ultimately serve our varied guests, hoping the salt and sugar are at just the right levels. Balance is what keeps the jugs of valuable water, the buckets of our heart’s blood slung across our shoulders, from spilling onto the streets. We know we’re losing the battle when that water gets more and more difficult to carry; when we get distracted, the most important tasks become the most laborious as well. But we know we’ve lost when we give all our water away and die of thirst on the long walk home. It’s finally time that I return to the well – at least on the way there, the buckets are easier to carry, because I finally understood the weight of what is versus was without anticipating the pressure of what will be.

All of this is to say: my journey isn’t over, but the Voyage is soon to be. As long as I give importance to it though, the Next Capital Moment will become What I Need at that moment, and I will become the permanent One (capital importance) to whatever I (capital importance) find to be true in myself and my observation of the world.

Here’s to hoping, and to many more blog posts to come!

Koh Phangan, Thailand

Koh Phangan, Thailand

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