Current Location: Nha Trang, Vietnam
Current Weather: 87°F (feels like 101°F)
Days Gone: 115
Days Remaining: 101
I am now past the halfway point in this seven month journey. The halfway point, an instant in time like any other. Yet it is a time that begs the past to be weighed against the future, and all the while I sit in the present holding the scales. I’ve seen giant waterfalls and caves and mountains and beaches. I’ve been part of the street-side mayhem in capital cities and I’ve enjoyed the serenity of nowhere. I can flag down a local bus, barter in local currency, and eat elbow to elbow and knee to knee with locals despite having only a smile in common. I can sleep peacefully with a giant spider in the room. I can bathe in the rain. I have excreted sweat in a greater volume in the last hundred days that I have in my entire life. I have suffered swollen feet and bug bites and conjunctivitis. I have eaten a great quantity of bugs. But I have looked into the eyes and minds and hearts of countless individuals, and I have seen truths that press laughter or pain or hope or fear directly into my soul. My five senses have achieved a greater depth and range of perception, or perhaps I have simply given them a world worth perceiving.
This nomadic lifestyle has become my normality. There is a balance that must be maintained. It is true that enough movement, enough change, and enough chaos can unravel a life’s path to the point where it can be sewn anew. And it must be. It is a great opportunity that one’s tattered remains can be stitched and tacked and mended with the new experiences to be stronger than ever before, steadfast and ready to weather the next storm. It is with shuddering steps that we tread into the changing light. But we adapt. We always do. With new smiles and new promises and new hope we can always take that next breath, we can always take that next step.
So, take a moment, and consider your next step. Because we’re all walking somewhere. It’s absolutely respectable if you don’t know where you’re going, but you sure as hell better be moving your feet. Even if you’re just dancing in place, those feet had better be moving.
Now, I could tell you about motorbiking down from the mountains of Sapa and into the humidity once again. I could enlighten you to the scams and touts that work the Bac Ha market. Or I could frighten you with tales of a landslide that backed up two-wheeled traffic on steep, cliff-side road slick with mud. I could write of the colorful discovery of a Flower Hmong village and the tranquility which was found there. I could summarize the journey by train halfway down the country to Hue. Or I could address my brief and perplexing friendship with a Vietnamese Kung Fu family man and our journey to the elephant springs, and further, our consumption of an entire mountain chicken, head included.
But I’m not. Because beyond the brief summary you get by me not telling you, I simply cannot capture the flavor of white rose dumplings in Hoi An; I cannot describe the glow of colored lights on the river, or the fluttering music of a singing blind woman; I cannot give you the rumble of dragging a motorbike to the top of a mountain, overlooking the sea, on a road the width of a sidewalk and cratered with potholes. Because I can’t give you the air to breathe, or the heat, or the people. There is a magic in the details that someday you will have to claim for yourself. I’ve tried before. And next time I write, I will try again. But this time, at this halfway point, I’m still weighing the past against the future. Because sometimes it seems everything worth measuring is defined by its opposite. And how well can a free man write of freedom if it’s all he knows?
Last thing consumed: Grilled Ostrich (among other things)
Thought fragment: I do like storms though…
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