Monday, September 29, 2008

I found the art of doing (almost) nothing in Chile (Part II)

When I first got to Chile, I was so busy. There were people to party with at the hostal. My new friend Scott wanted to tour around Santiago. I had marketing writing to do.

Imagine my surprise when in the first week at my new house, I was alone…a lot. I attacked my loneliness the go-getter way and signed up for a dance class every night of the week. I promised myself I would go on a road trip every Sunday. I would kick loneliness in the ass!

Then I caught a cold. My roommate Kanke went off to a retreat. My eye got really swollen. And my other roommate left for a weekend getaway. I was sick and sequestered in a house with no TV, no comfy couch, no people and a lot of organic food.

And I was really scared. Scared to be alone. In a foreign country. Scared to not be busy. Scared of what would happen to me.

It was then that I found myself on the computer chatting with my friend Trevor about the fact that, I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, I was actually bored in Chile. I felt like somehow I had failed. I felt like unless I was exploring every second of every day, I was doing myself a disservice, and I would deeply regret my inaction when I returned to America. What surprised me was Trevor’s response to my complaint of boredom. He said he loved what happened when he was bored and was always interested to see what his brain would think up. He made it sound like fun. It was then that I decided I would let myself be bored and hope my brain was smart enough to think of something good.

And it did!

As I write this, I’m imagining some of you thinking, “What’s the big deal? So you’re bored…” I guess the big deal is that I’ve expended a lot of effort in my life to never be bored. I was, for whatever reason, terrified of being bored. And even more frightened to be bored and alone. Add the foreign country element, and I was practically paralyzed.

Aimlessly, I tried chatting more with friends on Facebook. I watched a video. Then I crept onto my blog and tentatively began to write. And it was like opening a long-closed book. The pages were brittle perhaps, the smell was a bit musty, but it was still capable of entertaining for hours. It was a thing alive, and I was a thing alive, finally, fulfilling my heart’s smallest pinecone-wish to write what I wanted—not what someone else needed. To write without obligation.

I have always gravitated towards the introspective magazine articles, pined over the writings of Carrie on Sex and the City, communed with Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love. But I could never reconcile the idea of revealing my thoughts to the world so candidly.

Turns out, it’s not as hard as I thought. Turns out I really, really, really love it.

And I’ve discovered something. It’s in our moments of flux, where nothing is planned and everything is possible, that we can be our most creative selves. Harnessed by nothing but the wind, we are capable of listening to our hearts’ deepest desires and realizing them.

Strangely, my need to “do” and “go” has faded so considerably that I’ve gotten nervous. Shouldn’t I be doing more things? Shouldn’t I see more of Santiago? And each time, I push those obligations aside and think, “When I want to, I’ll go. But for now, this is my Chilean experience. I can’t imagine anything that would make me happier than to sit at this computer and write.”

And I am.

I’ll leave with you very cool designs by shaderlab.


nacho said...

Its very common to all of us that when we travel to a new country, orto a new city, etc, we are always looking about what to do. But, maybe you did that,at the beggining, but now, after a few month here, maybe you found what you were looking whe you live your country, peace.
Maybe im wrong, i dont know, but its an idea, i fully understand you, that had happend to me too, when you are living your country you think about all the things that you are going to do, but, after a while, you find someone, who has no intention no move, to continue walking, who doesnt want to be busy, justa, relax and take a rest. Thats your time, enjoy it, i really want no know you much better than now, well "i have time", but i really think, that you need what i had say before, rest, you won that right.

cuidate mucho!!!

Meg said...

That´s beautiful. Sue and I are right in the middle of flux, no plans and trying to trust that whatever is meant to be will be. And its worked so wonderfully so far on our travels. But its hard to let go huh? And some days you feel like you´re holding on tight to the reins and trying to direct things, which I think makes the path to where you need to be a little longer in the end. So nice to read your words about the special things that open up when you let go. So true! Love Meg xx