” Where we go, there we are”
At the time of this writing, I am currently parked in the shade, under an old oak tree, away in the grassy knolls surrounding a centuries-old chateau in the heart of the Loire Valley, France. A much romanticized area famous for wine and more castles then a storybook. I’ve been galivanting for weeks through this country, and though my 90 days is far from over, I still fell a strange impetus to keep my bags packed, an extra set of euros on me, and my routes charted.
My last place has come and gone. The guy was a somewhat somber figure. Someone who wanted to be alot of things, but ended up hoisted with life, burdens, and the inauthentic happiness you must manifest when you cater to the public. We certainly had differences, and I feel my sometimes brash persona challenged him in more ways than one. I left his domicile with few regrets, bid farewell to the two dumb dogs, the lazy cat the afternoon respites. Now I find myself where I am of this writing. Typing just to type- as if in anticipation of some sort of great revelation.
It goes without saying, this is certainly a moment in my life. August 20th I left and walked through the airport gates and tears gushing through my sunglasses. In the past 27 days, I feel as though I have lived 50 lives. I’ve experienced passion and romance, creative inertia, self-doubt that left me unable to move, sheer raw panic, the poison of envy and the rapture of personal expansion, and a stillness that would appease a saint. I’ve seen more faces parade past me in this almost month than I have in ages. Yet here I am, right now, looking at a 17th-century chateau. Opulent and pristine. One can only glance at its edifice to imagine the veritable parade of patrician faces that once road horse and carriage up the path here, so as to partake of the country and the bourgeois politics of nobility. Therein lay the paradox. Im not living in there-moreover the Chateau is set so far away that there’s little to do around- so all that is available is something you’re not privy to. I work hard. I scrub pans, plan breakfasts and cater to the comings and goings of the prada laden tour groupies coming to call.
I’m fine with that, but it’s an irony worth realizing, I find.
Down the road is a small, village. I seriously mean small. Its about 2 blocks and a chapel. There are no cafes to escape to during the day, a small semi-abandoned hotel and a ruinous chapel, and this is perfect to stop in and contemplate your place in existence in perfect contemplative silence. This I did yesterday. I hit a perceived wall and felt a sense of powerful isolation. Looking inside, it was quiet, serene and contained the wise miasma of wet stone and a pervasive echo.
It’s striking, what comes to a man in such silence. I realized- these feelings were not at all unlike the feelings the besieged me when I was in my little flat back home. The same cornucopia of emotion. The same strata. The same lows and highs. My mother gave me a saying long ago. Oftentimes, things don’t always stick with me. Personally, I have the attention span of a 5th-grade boy, and its a regular struggle. These words, however, were particularly potent, cadenced and right on the money.
Wherever you go-there you are.
There you have it folks. The mountains of Nepal, the beaches of Hawaii, the gothic fortresses of Britain, the chateaus of the Loire Valley even- yet only partial respite to the clinking clanking cogs of our own unimpeded neuroses. Like a plant, repotted in a nicer valley. Its still the same plant. Perhaps the soils are a bit richer and the valley is a bit older and lusher- but the fact remains.
Okay, please don’t read this as an admission of defeat or disillusionment. On the contrary. Ive learned so much in this time, and there’s still more to go. Its simply an exercise in perspective.
I never told you the reason why I was feeling so low the other day. Well, In this time of voluntary inconsistency, moving about and being buffeted to and fro with so much to learn, new languages, social mores, train routes, bus routes, new places, new maps, new terrains, watch my money, watch my health, be up be aware, be resilient, guard against bad energy-to say the least – if you please-the most pressing feeling was a strong lack of belonging. In the grand scheme of all of this, where am I? I write, but is it good enough? Is it enough? Then, this morning, I looked in front of myself and saw the chateau.. An opulent tower that was constructed well before the French revolution and would make an idyllic setting in the Borgias., Versailles or Reign. Cinderella’s ball could have taken place here. Yet at some point, like with all things, it fell to ruin, went to seed and was left to die.
Yet here I am, looking at it, having found a way to keep on, despite all odds, be built, rebirthed, and enlivened. Now, weddings are held. Children play in front, the world’s friendliest Burmese Mountain dog frolics in the yard, and the stars about shine like crystal. Maybe I am a bit like this chateau. Got a little full of myself, fell off the path, went away, and just need to find me again. Who knows? It seems a bit outrageous I could be living such an existence and have the audacity to feel morose. Just need to find my champion. Rebuild my ruin. Stopping waiting for that savior who will say all the right things and realize he’s right in that gilded mirror.
Granted, you don’t need a Chateau in the Loire Valley to realize this- however- it does make for some great photos.