A break from the routine after such a long time. Open spaces and mountains busy draping themselves in a cover of green, preparing for the hard white winter to come. We saw solid frost in a town of dust on day one. Life is hard there. There was one shop open, two men huddled by a fire, another washing clothes in ice-cold water. It was many small cups of tea before we were able to feel some warmth.
It looked like a dead town and it felt like one. Apples left unplucked from the season long gone. The odd truck bumped along, raising dust that settled on another layer left behind by another. You may not think it, but it was a town that was quite prosperous. For an outsider, it smelt of decay. The truth was anything but decay. So much so that decay was a choice they could indulge in, should they choose it.
And that’s the crazy nature of truth. It is always right in front of you, should you choose to see it. To ignore it, there are many ways and what is considered normal is one of them. Normal is so subjective that there is really no normal beyond the outside appearance of obvious choices. Choices that are merely the beginning than the outcome. Yet, we judge everyone by that same currency — of normal choices — than its outcome.
For all that has transpired, by choice or from a lack of it, the thing that stands out as the truth for me is to live the life that I feel comfortable living. No matter how wrong this looks, all that matters is that this feels right to me. And, even in the face of how so much of this negates how everything should be, it has never felt so right. Sink or swim, this is the real deal.
A life lived on your own terms has no useful benchmark to compare against, as, living by it, you will fail almost every benchmark, if your terms are not aligned with what is considered normal. That way, mine is a world that has no right or left, no north, south, east or west. Everything exists and it does not; all at the same time. How do you reconcile that with a world that is adamant that is north is north, east is east and right is not what is left?
Much of that sounds like a lie, much like an elegant delusion. A delusion, not unlike travel. A departure from the normal. An escape from the ordinary. Yet, we revisit this delusion, much like any other delusion. We claim temporary spaces as ours and live in them for a few days. We meet people that we grow fond of, and yet, we will almost never meet again. Yet, we travel.
In all this, beauty is not hard to find, should you seek it; so is joy. For, the same frost that covers the dust also provides an invitation to life that we seldom give thought to. Should you be able to smile, not out of mirth or sarcasm, in the midst of absolute starkness, at the fact that much exists and thrives, beyond our own endless fascination with ourselves, it is easy to see how everything can exist and not exist at the same time.
So, we revisit these places time and again. We rue the meanings that we used to earlier find in them that we can’t find anymore. We ignore the fact that in our growth in the interim the earlier meanings have ceased to exist, while new ones have cropped up in their place. Sometimes you take the changes — your own and the place’s — in your stride. Sometimes you don’t.
And that is life.