Archive for July, 2012

Believe it or not, I have often come across people who are not very happy that I have adopted this carefree lifestyle of rootless traveler. These are people who are alive but do not live. They are not happy for me. I am sometimes met with envy, jealousy and covetous contempt.  I call these people the  ‘Zombies Astral’. The term refers to a person who has had their soul stolen by a powerful wizard and are subsequently encased in a bottle or vessel of some kind for all time. Once trapped, their spirit is under the domination of the spells of the shaman and they must do what they are told to do, by the holder of the vessel, dead or alive, without free will, there is no prospect of peaceful release for the zombie astral.

The ‘zombies astral’  I meet occasionally come in all shapes and sizes, from all sub-components of society. They can be artists whose lack of  skill in the art of living makes them die hard malcontents  seeking release through recognition and the distant perception of freedom that a windfall of accidental and overdue discovery might bring. The majority of zombies are the day-workers, professionals and otherwise who feel trapped in an unhappy  job, unsatisfying career or dead-end lifestyle that they themselves have chosen to follow. The idea that I am a butterfly enrages some people. I get the feeling they would trap me in a net and pin my wings to a cardboard sheet if that were possible.

I have far less future security or financial wherewithal by comparison and yet they envy me, because I am free. Freedom is the one natural attribute that holds itself above all human values, it is pure and always rises above the market. We are all given the gift of freedom at birth and then most people either foolishly give it, exchange it, sell it or barter it away for possessions during the course of their lives. That zombies astral  are trapped by their own design and see no way of extricating themselves from the mess they have wrought in their own lives is not something I have had any charge in. They have fallen for the siren song of the trixster who rules the marketplace. The things these people have most in common is that they envy everyone and anyone whom they perceive as being ‘better off’ than they are and….. that they are  slavishly addicted to playing lotteries of any kind as if only some cosmic magic will alleviate their terror and mediocrity. The ‘Zombie Bottle’ is the life they have made for themselves…. their own choices have enslaved them.

The covetous nature of the intent of advertising has had a devastating effect on people of my society. Emotions have been replaced by objects, desire has been supplanted by possession of popular things. I began to notice that conversations in the west had begun to generalize across certain nations in particular where the initial exchange was only about position, possession and pretense. “Good Morning” in my culture is always followed by “What do you do?” so as to categorize a person financially in the social strata. Next is always “Where do you live?” In my city everyone knows the property values from area to area as well as they know what’s in their refrigerator. Automobiles have been sold as replacements for personality, as if a certain model can cloak who you are and replace you with a magic message of cool or renewed virility.

I don’t fit in to these conversations or exchanges, I am an outsider, without the necessary accoutrements to identify myself to those around me. I am like the troubadour singing an unpopular song outside the gates of a dark city at war. My presence in certain quarters creates an uncomfortable dissonance as if a window has been suddenly opened in the dark rooms of a crack house and a cleansing light has flooded in. A new set of golf clubs will not take your heart soaring to the heights that stories of fabled places will do, you can’t replace your feelings with possessions, nature will not allow it. I get the feeling in these cases that the zombies would like to eat my brain when they have realized  their possessions mean nothing to me. My presence makes everything they have worked for seem worthless. It is incomprehensible to me that people will hate you for something as naive and beautiful as travel, but it is so. Instinctively, freedom is what the soul desires most…..freedom is a window into the mystic.

I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want a mortgage ( the origin of this word is Latin meaning ‘to grip until death’) . I have no use for automobiles as I am told that I was born handsome and well endowed. The purchase of ‘things’ will do nothing to create a better person so I’m stuck with who I am. The older I get has money meaning less and less every day, the acquisition of power and position is just too time consuming and wasteful. The collection of memberships in ‘special’ clubs is nonsensical to a person like myself who seldom wants to visit the same place twice.

I say to the ‘Zombies Astral’ of the world………life is what you make it…..get a life. Take a journey through the landscape of imagination.

The past year has been one of the most enjoyable times of my life. A lot of good things have come my way, I’ve had a lot of fun being me and doing what I do. There are plenty of different reasons for the past years successes, some of which are downright spooky, but I deny nothing a place in my life that results in a positive outcome. The people closest to me know that I have the most unusual luck. I occupy a space in the universe where there is no middle ground. Most of what is happening today is the result of years of positive and precise personal planning, but there are some things that are entirely inexplicable and I don’t have a problem with that.

I am not a religious person in the traditional sense, I never was. I do not  however deny that I live in a world occupied by many diverse forces of spirit and nature that I have never taken for granted. Things have happened along the timeline of my lifetime that I can’t explain.  I accept that there may be many alternative explanations and I have learned to open my heart and my mind to all of them. People talk of the spirit world from the perspective of their cultural heritage, since I have none I have developed a religion of my own and it is quite lively with intangible things and those that go bump in the night.

The baseline of my personal philosophy is in line with that of Buddhist doctrine in that I believe in doing no harm. I do not worship  gods and I do not covet the possessions of others.  Most of the what makes up ‘The Eight Fold Path’ makes perfect sense to me. I don’t misrepresent my own beliefs to others as part of any organized dogma. I do believe in history and the human experience through time. What was inexplicable to ancient men is not quite as in-understandable today. Now that we understand the science of  lightning and fire, the universe has become a lot more comprehensible and less of a spiritual miasma to me.

But I can’t attribute everything that takes place in my life as ‘luck’ or ‘coincidence’. I have always lived with one foot in the spirit world. I may have opened that door accidentally, as I explained in my novel, ‘The Revenant’. In that novel I explained how I accidentally learned to fly as a spirit being during astro-travel after coming into contact with certain objects of power that had appeared during my time of need. There is a passage in the Bible explaining how one ‘takes possession’ of things through prayer. This phenomena of crossing over was obviously well known to the ancient Western Semites who wrote the Old Testament.

I  attribute much of my good fortune of late to the act of living joyously and setting myself up for good things to happen. This can be interpreted as ‘positive thinking’ or by some  religious parable, spirit guides , whatever, it is what it is, and from my point of view……I’ll take it. Being happy is not all that complicated.

 

 

 

Not much has happened since 1964. The world may have changed, but I have stayed much the same. I’m just a bit older, but not much worse off for the rambunctious wear and tear of 40 years ‘on the road’. 1964 was the year of my emancipation, the time I grabbed the brass ring of freedom and ran screaming for the hills, proverbially speaking.

If I was to do the same thing today I would be running ahead of labels that would have seemed entirely alien to me in the context of what the world looked like in the fall of 1964. At that time, personal freedom and independence was something to be gained and cherished, a higher calling and a bid to live a lifestyle of wicked delirium, to join in on the beggars banquet that defined the Age of Aquarius. Today’s world would have disowned someone like me as an incorrigible homeless tramp.

In 1964 I was one of a vanguard of people who like the Chrysalis yearned to break free and seek the sunshine of a new age. The concept of being homeless had not been invented yet. There hadn’t been any hobo’s in the streets since the 1930’s passed decades earlier. There was a profound differance between the poverty of the 1930’s and the wanton rejection of wealth and materialism in the 1960’s. Poverty in the 1960’s…was cool.

A new tribe had formed out of a disaffected generation, traveling from one crash pad to another commune became a calling. New destinations were as interconnected as the strings of a dream-catcher. The people who had answered the call of the road became like princes and princesses of old, wandering easily from one pleasure palace to another, bearing gifts, news and stories of what lie ahead.

As I lay here on a bed of blossoming clover amidst the honey bee’s and bumble flies I am swept back to those simple times when wealth and materialism meant nothing to me. I have reverted to living day to day, as I would have all those years ago, and it appeals to me that I am much the same person as was, remaining true to my core values, unchanged, unfettered and free to wander the world.

Have you ever awakened from a dream, still immersed in that separate reality,  feeling as if you’re being torn backwards on the end of an elastic bungee cord, out of one world and into the next, through a cosmic wormhole that has opened in your mind? I have met people who say they don’t dream, I don’t understand that. My life is composed of dreams, so intense and real in every aspect that the characters of each world are posed like actors waiting in the wings for their time on stage while others read their lines center stage in the play called ‘My Life’. Not to dream is not to live. Have you ever wondered which world is imaginary in the first moments of consciousness?

Time, as a concept, troubles me. I don’t wear a watch and don’t own a calendar. I used to have a collection of watches and plastered free bank calendars across the door of my kitchen refrigerator. The mundane chequered squares below the generic postcard pages would be scrawled and inscribed with cryptic reminders of dates and the details of nebulous plans for a future over which I had no control over. The watches and chronographs have been sold at various times without regret as trinkets of salvage that had lost their value and meaning.

My kitchen refrigerator is now plastered with colourful magnetic stickon’s from places and things I have visited since I dumped the concept of time in the bin. I use refrigerator magnets as time portals to periods of  past pleasure rather than have tedious calendars dictate my future and remind me that I have no time. Whether my refrigerator has become a de facto ‘Tardis’ is something I’ll have to think about.

Occasionally, I  receive a renewal notice for property tax or auto insurance  and be drawn back momentarily into the present. I  realize then that the time that has passed between ‘here and there’ and ‘then and now’ doesn’t seem possible and feels entirely unrealistic and unlikely. I’ll spend a few moments attempting to organize my vagrant thoughts into a coherent timeline.

There are times when it’s felt impossible to rationalize the time that has been passed through when weighed against the time I have spent doing whatever it is I do to pass the time. My habit of total immersion in the places, people and culture of the places and people that I meet and enjoy while traveling away for extra long periods of time has had the effect of shifting my concept of real time, I tend to live in several worlds at the same time, at least that is what my mind is telling me.

Memories and habits have a tendency to remain ‘sticky’ in both  body and  mind. Skypeing has become a separate state of being physically in another time zone, while your mind  keeps to the rational framework of the part of the world you are in. Can the constant traveler  learn to exist in altered times simultaneously without effect? Is this part of what dreams do? Do they truly bridge the gap between what the educated mind cannot comprehend? Being in instant communication with people around the world in real time seems to me to have rendered the concept of time irrelevant and made the concept of time travel more real. Time has become an accounting principle and I am no bean-counter where it comes to living my life.

( to be cont’d)

I choose to travel as a lifestyle. I choose to write to repair my life. I am hardly young and yet I  consider myself a seeker. One would think that they would have it all figured out at my age, but the more people I meet the more I realize that life is a constantly challenging experience that none of us will ever completely understand….we question, we think, we consider, we desire, we act.  Isn’t this in essence the beauty of living , to be stimulated and to stimulate in return…to be considered interesting enough to attract interesting characters into your life so that your life is more interesting?

I had an experience on my way home from Dallas the other day. As I was passing through the TSA security line the officer said to me, “Certain people have a certain way of looking, they walk and dress a certain way”, he said. “You”, he said ” look like a rock star”. I told him that I was flattered but was in fact only a simple artist and purveyor of words. I admit Trisha and I  have taken on the appearance of gypsy’s who wear bits and bobs from markets around the world.

My swagger, if that’s what it is, is all about my being comfortable in my skin.  I am going to conclude that attraction breeds attraction, and being oneself is a apparently a lightning rod to others desirous of originality. I do what I do because it makes me happy and confident. I do not consider my possessions, position, wealth, opportunities as material to living an interesting and happy life.  Today and tomorrow will be just fine. If being a traveler will make you look live a rock star, and keeps you young at heart, then let’s get going. But do so because it is honestly an expression of your heart and not a pretense to be artfully woven into a conversation about how great you are.

Only in Vancouver Canada would I be able to witness such an extreme oddity as in the form of a grown man dressed in day-glow Zumba spandex running on an AstroTurf all weather track under cloud blackened skies in frigid pouring rain holding a bright red umbrella while splashing through the ubiquitous puddled saturation. Vancouver must hold the record for denial , dissonant behaviors and sheer number of delusional denizens. For a city that bills itself as ‘The greatest place on Earth’ to live, one would have to either be high, stupefied by the false and misleading advertisements by the Advertising Council or simply weakened by the constant deluge and rendered dysfunctional by the grey overhang to believe such a nonsensical phrase.

I flew in from Dallas Texas last night, where it is truly a weather worthy place to talk about. There is no denying that the everyday sunny weather in Texas is phenomenal. While I was away I was in daily contact with many people of differing backgrounds here in Vancouver. I was shocked and amused that for the entire time I was away I was getting weather updates from friends and colleagues about how ‘glorious’ the weather was.

The personal anecdotes and the professional reports were entirely antipodal. I’m talking off the charts diametrically opposed. They just didn’t match up, not even close.  While individuals living in Vancouver were constantly telling me that the weather had been great, by contrast the weather services were reporting overcast skies and daily rainfall along with unseasonal and significantly low temperatures.

This strange sociological phenomena occurred the entire month that I was away. I had to conclude that either the people I knew were lying or the weather services were in a conspiracy to mess with the heads of the international community and keep people away from Vancouver by colluding to report the opposite of what the citizens were experiencing. I had to ask myself….why? How is that people in Vancouver are so covetous of the good weather elsewhere that they will lie about the conditions where they are?

I wondered “Do they not know that we outsiders have the internet and can easily discern the truth with a keystroke, and yet the lies and denial persist, even when you confront them with the truth?” Vancouverites , as I know well from living here, hate to admit that their city is not perfect, in spite of the many factual indications that it is far from that lofty barrier. But to take it to the extreme to call a grey sky blue because you think someone else is enjoying life more than you are…..that’s just weenie…..and a little creepy.

Vancouver is by design, the most over-hyped city on the planet. I can understand why a region would want to sell itself for reasons of tourism and to keep the citizens from attempting mass suicide after months of weather related depression, but the state of media induced confusion in Vancouver has reached a rare state of mass psychosis unseen anywhere else, people will call the black sky blue because they have been told it is so and desperately want to believe what is obviously untrue. I witnessed this very example today as I drove past a sodden running track and saw a man dressed in horribly unflattering spandex, running with an umbrella,  obviously believing that denial will always trump the truth.

I say that only  because I will  leave this fantastic  sunny place today in a forced  retreat back to the darkness and  rain of Vancouver. I have been following the weather forecast for the wet coast everyday and dreading my return to that place. Yesterday was the hottest day on record here in Dallas Texas, 107 degree’s. It hasn’t been over 105 since 1938 ! In contrast Vancouver is a frigid 57…and raining…brrrrrr  & yuchhh 😦

Traveling away from any dreary spot is enlivening, enlightening and elucidates how really wonderful life can be when you plan your life accordingly. Vancouver is one of those places that people are perpetually planning to escape from, ‘getting away’ is one of the primary topics of conversation. Vancouver is one of the few cities where travel agents can still make a decent living. Although why more people haven’t caught on to the internet booking wave is beyond me.

I  have replenished my Vitamin D supply , no pharmacy fake drugs for me. I’m tanned brown as toast from the generous Texas sunshine. I feel great, the Vancouver gloom is gone, even though I was only there for six weeks I had started to fell the darkness fall over my senses. I shouldn’t have to worry about depression or SAD for a while.

In a moment of clarity I wondered if the Ad Council Of BC has actually planned to induce a fear of the sun among people of Vancouver in order to mollify the sodden population  spending their way out of depression on car leases and mortgage payments to justify staying there….just a thought. I did work in advertising as a younger man and know that it can be a very sleazy business of lies and half truths to manipulate a gullible and dangerously weak minded public. The Vancouver airwaves are constantly stoked with the fear message of skin cancer and melanoma’s…in a place where the sun never shines…seems strange…and thought worthy.

Trisha and I haven’t even returned to Vancouver and we’re already planning our next escape. We have found a new favorite TV show and watch the network HGTV show about relocation to other places around the world. We have pinpointed several locations that still have cheap rents and good overall prices to live. The weather of course is a principal driver in our decision making, sunshine days being the number one factor, money second, access to technology rounding out the top three.

I can confirm that any of the ‘red neck and guns’ stereotypes that have been bandied about by national newscasters such as the CBC in Canada are unequivocally false. The people of Texas are sweet, good hearted and very generous. I can describe the people here as straight forward and easy going, easy to talk to. So, don’t listen to the negative reports by those who may have their own twisted agenda’s to decry everything relating to the USA…..come and see for yourself.

I was expecting those stereotypes to appear, having never been here, but was surprised when nothing of the kind I had been told existed in fact…didn’t. There is a thriving arts scenes here, dance theater, music, free concerts advertised all the time it seems. There are galleries and museums…as opposed to zero in Vancouver I might add, there is even rapid transit, although you may want to rent a car while your here to see everything, the distances are intimidating. You won’t complain about the many year round sports stadiums and decent ticket prices……water parks and family fun amusement parks are a flourishing industry here …. open year round.

We’ve had a great time in Texas……in truth, I’ll miss it.

Trisha and I are a Harlequin set. We match perfectly, in spite of our many obvious differences. I am tall, she is short, she is Asian, I am Caucasoid, she is very smart, me not so much…. we’re both golden blond and that shocks people who first encounter us.  What our hearts hold in common is too numerous to list. Despite our disparities we have managed to stay together for 24 years to accomplish all the things that people are supposed to do until they realize that  most of these things  have essentially been an unnecessary drag.

If I could turn back the clock to pick and choose what I would do over I would start by doing more of the happy things and far fewer of the other instances of nameless drudgery that people do when they think they are  ‘trying to do the right thing’. However, it hasn’t all been for nothing. We managed to retrieve our lives out of the fire-pits of ‘normalcy’ and  create an interesting and fulfilling lifestyle for ourselves and those we love dearly. The learning curve between our practical heaven and the past potentiality for sinking into the earth and sleepwalking until death has been steep.

Before meeting Trisha I had been an unrepentant traveler. I have written in the past that travel had saved my life. In time I had turned my love of travel into a very small business using Adam Smith’s model as expressed in his 1726 book ‘The Wealth of Nations’. I read this work when I was a young boy hiding in the city library  to stay warm during office hours as a respite to my life on the cold streets.I read prodigiously and survived the years that preceded my ability to obtain a passport.

Smith wrote “Take what is abundant and cheap and transport it to where it is considered rare and dear’. I took this sentence to heart and began to import the things I was discovering as I traveled, first to South America and then around the world back to Canada. By the time I met Trisha I was known as a guy who traveled the world full time to supply my boutique customers with exotic merchandise and was in fact a minor local celebrity among those who envied my lifestyle. Don’t forget that these were the days before guide books and backpacker travel hostels, international travel was still considered as ‘out there’.

Mixed race couples at the time were almost unheard of, but we fell hard for each other anyway. What she expected of me at first  I didn’t exactly know. I was wild and free and she was and is incredibly beautiful. We only knew that from the first moment we met that we had been together for thousands of years in previous lives past and worlds apart. We have been inseparable ever since. She had never left the country since her parents had brought her to Canada from Hong Kong as a child and I had a great deep seated fear of ever living on the streets again and couldn’t settle down.

A Hawaiian spirit that I had met as a teenager convinced me to take my bride  to Hawaii and get married on a cliff above the crashing waves on the Maui shore of the Ka’a na pali highland. In a Polynesian ceremony sung above the pounding surf, and with fragrant flowers strung through her hair, Trisha agreed to take another journey with me.

 

 

The muse of the media is powerful, educational, biased, destructive and informative. Every country has it’s message of nationalistic intent, a tribal psychology. Individuals fall prey to false messaging and the words of false prophets when the media is either limited by political voice or the intentional malice of a cabal or leadership clique. Good intentions can be muddied by the avarice of sabotage by those whose self- interests are at risk should the population move away from the status quo.

I hear from a lot of people who have regionally, nationally and geographically developed points of view. This was the way the world used to be, the way the leadership of dictators and the greedy fear might change with the oncoming world of free information over the internet and the medium of mass communication and social media. When I hear people speaking  the diatribe of a a particular leadership of religion or political ideology I know that theirs is a small world where spirit, worship, freedom and knowledge has been tightly regulated. I do not really like speaking to conformists, in this I am fortunate to live as a citizen of a civilization that worships freedom above all other ideologies.

When I travel I meet people of every race, colour and creed…of every ideology and religion. What I found extremely interesting when I first began to travel was how simple aspects of the geography had such an effect on the mindsets, cultures and principles of those people who lived there. A religion, race or creed could change by the simple act of trespassing over a mountain range or crossing a river valley. I was amazed that many of these people would harbor such deep traditional resentments against the people who lived ‘on the other side’.

I have lived for a short time with a tribe of Dyak who would hunt other tribes heads but had never seen a white man before. They knew all the power, witchcraft and evil of the tribe five miles downriver but showed an intense interest in my distant culture. On my first evening in the longhouse, they danced for me and sang their songs, the songs of their history and the forest life. They asked me to show them my dances, of course I had none to offer, they were amazed that white men don’t dance with the spirits.

But this is the modern age, the age of the internet and air travel. The world has gotten smaller. No thanks to guide books and easy credit.  I have been particularily sensitive to the messages bandied about by governments that are designed to separate people, as opposed to bringing us closer together. There are political movements and religious doctrines specifically designed to create hatred and animosity. I abhor nationalism, I have seen the results of fanaticism produced by national leaders.

I have a dear friend who is convinced that America and American’s are evil. I have heard the same stereotyping of races and nationals by people around the world, ‘what nonsense’. In some religions it is mandatory to hate the ‘outsider’, they have names for those who are not of their sect. Two of the world’s largest religions have at the heart of their ideology the specter of an end time where everyone currently living  has to die before any lasting peace can be achieved. I just don’t see how mutual mass destruction can be the solution to anything. A person would have to harbor a deep hatred for life in order to believe that.

Isolation, whether geographic, religious, social, fundamental, cultural, ideological, familial or tribal has bred ignorance and intolerance. In the past these evils were isolated by distance and geography. In the modern era these sects have escaped from their isolation to wreak havoc on the world, but this access cuts both ways. The message of freedoms enjoyed by the outside world will eventually have the effect of enlightening those ignorant and impoverished villagers and tribesmen who have been brainwashed by their tribal elders and religious leaders to think that the outside world is evil and profane . The violence of an ugly leadership and the tyranny of a sick and ignorant ideology has historically never been perpetuated when the isolation is exposed by the modern world. What we in the west think of as sending a ray of sunshine into the dark corners of isolation and ignorance, the religious and social leaders of those same centers of intellectual deprivation view as a rifle shot through the heart of the dominion over the hearts and minds of their populations and as such they fear and fight against any change that would supplant their self centered influence.

I want to think that the advent of tourism has been a positive outcome for the world at large. As we get to know each other personally we realize that people everywhere have similar wants, needs and desires. I am very hopeful for the people of ‘The Islamic Middle East’ as they have incrementally shed decades of spiritual isolation and dictatorship and that those countries open their doors wider to people from other parts of the world so that they may learn that great progress has taken place while they were suffering under the delusions of their leaders. It is my desire that those countries, so oppressed by a variety of dictatorships of the mind , spirit and body, will now develop into places where people no longer have to flee from in order to  live a decent peaceful life.

Someone said to me once, “When you’re as lazy as I am, you have to be very organized”. This came from a man who lived moment to moment, without a thought for tomorrow. In fact, as my life progressed along the same track, I realized that the actions taken to achieve simplicity were in fact quite complicated and multifaceted by nature and circumstance.

I have taken great care and attention in building a  superstructure which stands against the weather without walls so that the storms and tempests of life blow through without leaving behind any permanent damage and myself the  better person for the observation. My colloquial term for what I have done is to call what I have designed as a life plan a ‘fuck you resume’. It is the ability to walk away from any bother no matter what the origin.

This is the way I live. I make  no apologies. ‘Lose a job….no problem…go somewhere nice instead’……’market down……screw it…go somewhere nice until it picks up’……’life getting altogether too boring……take off and get some new perspective’. This is what I call the ‘fuck you resume’…I never let things get me down and always have a plan for the times when ‘shit happens’….it always does…..best deal with it in advance.

I’m reminded of a fellow traveler that I met at a desolate crossroads in high rural Peru , a place called the Alta Plano. I’d got off a ‘chicken bus’ after already having my bones shaken for 22 hours and decided to deplane while I could still walk. The man I met was already there, where he’d come from I had no idea, he was sitting on a crude bench outside the rough stone shack  serving as a way station and bus stop, sitting literally, in the middle of nowhere.

I got off the bus in this no mans land without a second thought because in my own estimation I was ready for anything. In my backpack I carried extra clothing for three climates, waterproof and otherwise, including footwear. I also carried cooking gear and a small gas stove, two sleeping bags, one sub zero rated and another tropical. In those days I never went anywhere without my US Army jungle surplus hammock with double bottom , mosquito netting and fourty feet of extra rope. BTW, it takes 45 minutes to boil water at 13,000 feet.

Leather jackets and boots would mildew at sea level and the arctic sleeping bags and cooking equipment were useless in the city, but I was ready…organized. The fact that I was weighed down by eighty pounds of gear and  a walking nightmare on the urban sidewalks,were not the things I  considered at the time.

So, as I stood there  considering the open landscape and getting my land legs back. I couldn’t help noticing that my fellow traveler was my antipodal opposite. He had on only a light cotton shirt and pants, sandals with socks and a single toothbrush jutting out of his breast pocket. I was impressed, I had planned for months to be where I was, he looked as if he had dropped out of the sky. The air was thin and the vagrant wind blew incessantly.

We spent the coming twilight talking about nothing in particular and sharing cigarettes to stay warm as the night shadows rose around us and the temperature fell like a stone. Inside the stone cottage our Andean hosts had built a central fire and offered a bland potato soup but otherwise left us entirely alone. Thick blankets were laid atop bundles of produce waiting to be be stowed on the next bus to the coast , the warm smoke kept the frost from forming. The several visiting Inca’s broke out a bundle of cocoa leaves and lime paste to share, the act of chewing kept my face from going numb.

My new friend told me that he had shed his possessions and had set out to wander wherever the daylight took him. I respected his philosophy and explained that I was long  lost to the world I had known and was comfortable with the careless path I had lain out for myself. He and I became kindred spirits and spent the night talking about life on the road. I concluded that we had arrived in the same place via different paths, both seeking freedom and simplicity.

In the morning my friend boarded the first bus bound for the lowlands while I waited until afternoon for my ride further into the interior. Later in life I reflected back to that chance meeting and wondered if I could go through my life without any encumbrance or possessions to tie me down or hold me back. I began to emulate that lonely traveler, his one tooth brush and single set of clothes.  I never did get a name or an address nor did I offer my own,  I slowly rid myself my the travelers ‘conveniences’ I had once found so necessary.  I travel today with only a single carry on bag of disposables.

I have begun to wonder if perhaps my friend was a spirit, a brujo of the Alta-Plano who came to meet a kindred wanderer and acolyte of the aimless world. It wouldn’t be the first time I had been visited by one of the other side. My Thai friends have fashioned an amulet for me, blessed by the powerful monk Luang Poh Too At,  to guard against the entrance of spirits into my world, because they say I am like an open door to the next world and that this openness I allow is not entirely safe. I don’t agree. I travel light as I pass through this world,  my spirit weighs nothing, nor does my tooth brush. And now that I think of it, my traveler friend did look a bit like Jesus. I can only wonder.