I consequently wrote from sheer memory the book Wings and Wanderlust (The Art of Discovering Your Inner Self) 20 long years after. I took me two weeks of frenzied ‘stream of consciousness’ to finish the book, sleeping an average of 2 hours every night. I feared that if I stopped, I would lose the momentum. It took me one year to refine and edit it. The book is a mix of anecdotes and verses. This is the 13th excerpt from that book, others memoirs available at eastwind-memoirs-collection. To order the book, email email@example.com.
when you enter the dark forest good and bad things lurk to make and break your soul take the chance, you will not regret it darkness and light will encompass you make the Lord your beacon gather strength in His grace and everything will fall into place
The art of drifting and self-discovery is based on things which are many times against everything we learned in school or in work. Perhaps the best way to explain it is through the so-called ‘brain matrix’ shown below. The right brain is the poet in you. The left brain is the engineer in you. Let us look at the matrix.
The Brain Matrix
|right brain||left brain|
|frame overall spiritual imagination conscience philosophical random role creativity intuitive play piano by ear compose pictures, vision, ideas inspiration whole final goal synthesize strategy integrate discern fluid holistic monolithic surrealism abstract improvised spontaneous unpredictable risk estimated qualitative controller architect pianist poet no rules freedom||flesh detail spatial memory knowledge technical sequential tasks accuracy logical schooled piano read notes words, grammar, vocabulary perspiration parts steps analyze tactic break up compute rigid one at a time granular realism concrete programmed studied predictable assurance precise quantitative accountant engineer carpenter mathematician rules discipline|
But there must be balance. You cannot survive the whirlwind if you are totally right-brained. Complete abandon to the whirlwind is not practical. There are limits to ‘un-planning’. Balance is the key. You have to have caution, measurement of risk, over and above your sixth sense, accounting of prices, of money left. Although the right brain dominates drifting and adventure, there is a time for the left brain to take over, especially in dangerous situations.
The right brain mysteriously senses danger but when it is there, the left brain must plan a course of action to avoid that danger. Left and right brains compliment each other like yin and yang, light and darkness. We know the meaning of darkness only because we know the meaning of light and darkness is the absence of light. Light and darkness are bound together and is manifested in the lights and shadows on a face. We do not see anything if it is white on white or black on black. We see everything if it is white on black or black on white.
Drifting is addictive. I have met people who have been on the road for twenty years. I did only 36 months and it was so filling and intense, I needed to stop. For me, drifting was only a ‘process’, a spiritual phase, a preparation for a vocation or a career or a mission, a key to self-discovery. It was not a way of life like for the few rare people I met on the road. For most drifters I knew, it was a phase in life. But there were a few rare ‘extremists’, the ‘hard core’, the ‘professional drifters’ who made it a way of life. It doesn’t mean they were in paradise all the time. There are always lapses, some wide, some narrow.
There was so much gain in drifting, but I thought that in the long term, drifting would kill my soul. It was enough, 36 magic months. Then, I was ready to go back home, stronger, wiser and so nicely less realistic, more defiant of the frenzied world, more rebellious, more questioning, more irreverent, more poor. It would be easier for you to go through any kind of crisis or pain after drifting. Pressure in work will not be pressure per se if you understand there is more to work.
to be idle is not evil you must be empty so you can be filled nothingness complements fullness they are cosmic partners like yin and yang like light and darkness yielding shadows and figures when no thoughts enter your mind that is the time you discern your being you become aware of your fullness be the undisturbed water in a pool as smooth as a mirror that you may see yourself clearly joy is meaningful after sadness, feast after hunger meditation and prayer, like night into day begins with emptiness and ends with fullness
Finally, wings and self-discovery are a form of education beyond one’s wildest dream. I compare it to a doctorate but only much more. A doctorate degree can be an arm chair affair, vicarious, book-bound. Its wisdom is theoretical and of the mind. Drifting is sensual. Its wisdom is experiential and of the heart. I can still smell the fried fish in Tetouan, Morocco. I can hear the distant peal of sheep bells in the Portuguese countryside near Fatima. I can still feel the sting of fine grain of Sahara sand on my face.
But lessons learned are what I call ‘meta-sensual’. Beyond the sensual is the spiritual. When you feel the warmth of people, the children at the Mondego river in Portugal or the sensuous French Canadian who was running away from life, then there are spiritual lessons learned. I can still feel the faint brush of Maria’s hair on my soul in Las Palmas. I can still feel today the sorrow of seeing people in extreme spiritual pain in spite of their affluence. The wisdom of the mind is nothing. It is the wisdom of the heart which is true wisdom that makes you see yourself in others.
Scattered excerpts Fellow drifters from Mauritius at Pisa, Italy. Note the author’s eastwind sweater. *************** all is darkness, all is silence suddenly, a nova blinds the eyes thunder rapes the ears all is darkness, all is silence once again
My general plan was to head south for winter where it was warmer. I was on a general direction towards southern Spain, that was all. Nothing specific. My right brain was functioning. That was good. But my left brain kept bobbing up. It was a product of my programmer’s time frame, quick, short and with no orientation to linger, overly conscious of efficiency. I was still a greenhorn as an adventurer. Order was pullng me down. I needed chaos. As soon as I saw a place, I moved. Drifting does not hurry. It lingers so one can absorb people and places more deeply. Drifting is precisely defying the regularity of nine to five schedule and programmed city life. Tourists who have no time have to hurry and cover a lot of ground in a short time. Time frame is a product of lifestyle. But you can change your time frame by changing your lifestyle.
********** I was starting to avoid the big cities because they posed more effort to get in, seek complex tourist information, then get out. It was more complex, more maps and streets to study, more for the left brain. The people in the cities were also more busy and colder. The thing was to simplify. The countryside and villages of Europe were more edible to me. The people were also more warm and had more time to talk. Quiet, no hustle and bustle, the Old World in its rural splendour was nice, more for the right brain. Swiss friend. Stein-am-Rhein, Switzerland, near the German border.
**************** The best medicine for loneliness or boredom on the road was the road itself, I was starting to learn. Pain and loneliness vanished instantly when the excitement of the road emerged, when I looked towards the horizon. This would happen many times, Madrid, Canary Islands, Zurich. Whenever I felt lonely, I ran away from it by achieving the speed of light. Motion was the best friend of the drifter. That was the advantage of wings. You can run anytime and to anywhere. You can run away from pain, at least for now, not forever.
My map intrigued me. There was this tiny nation called Andorra in the heart of the Pyrenees between Spain and France. My gut feel, rather, my right brain, said it was a nice mountain place. I had to see it. Passing through Beziers, Narbonne, Perpignan, Prades, I veered east towards the rugged Pyrenees instead of south towards Barcelona. I would not regret my decision. I worked as a construction worker and met the beautiful Catalan labourers who inspired me because, like me, they were the essential rebels who defied rules, the essential drifters who loved recklessness.
************* hitchhiking requires both left and right brains left brain for the physical right brain for the spiritual miss one and you miss the other it’s all or nothing
************** By the time I reached Barcelona from Andorra, I was completely transformed from my New York self. I was ready for the world, ready for Spain which colonized my country for three hundred years. Now, I was bold and daring. I was beginning to realize the importance of not planning and of walking aimlessly as the best form of drift. My nascent right brain was swelling and constricting my programmer’s left brain.
************* Getting lost in crowded cities became a habit… Athens, Rotterdam, Copenhagen. Once you got the hang of it, it was great, a powerful tool to absorb new places and new people. I drifted aimlessly, not knowing where to go but having the gut feel where to go. Discovering new places this way was better than a planned cerebral organized map-based or book-based tour. You have no expectations. You are not looking for a place a book mentions. Your left brain is recedes. Your right brain swells. You are thus surprised at seeing things. Later on, after another six months, I would expand unplanned city travel to unplanned country travel. I would hitch without knowing where to go. The essence of drift is the right brain.
*********** I could hit the Canary Islands through a boat from Playa del Aaiun in the Spanish Sahara. The map said so in crude pencil marks. From there, it would be almost spring and I can head north through Cadiz in Spain up through Portugal back into Switzerland, where I could rest with uncle Robert Lips. That was the general plan. My left brain was taking over.
for the new adventurer danger is its own end for danger is a deeply moving experience but danger is a double-edged sword one blade is the razor’s edge of excitement the other blade is the razor’s edge of disaster one has to make a choice whether to take the tight-rope walk whether to take the one giant leap into the abyss leading to nowhere and everywhere
*** From Faro, I headed for Vila Franca de Xira to see the bulls. They gave me a good tip. This time, I had to make it on a specific date. It was a time to be prompt. I couldn’t miss it. My left brain took over. I made sure I made it on time even though I was hitching. I arrived at Xira after noon, just in time for the bulls. In the evening, the right brain was in charge. All the houses offered grilled sardinas frescas and agua pe (cheap red wine) to passers-by. I was drunk with joy. Alone, I slept in the woods, thanking the Lord for the gift of serendipity.
*** If drifting and self-discovery depends on your right brain most of the time, the one time the left brain plays a crucial role is in economics. You can throw all cares to the wind in terms of time, places to go, and people to see, but not in terms of money. Many amateur drifters have lost the ability to drift by simply ignoring this one important factor.
*** If you are so high and drunk with joy, make sure you have to have the right brain, the instinct, the nose, the sixth sense to sense danger, and the left brain to react quickly.
*** The economics of drifting is your left brain functioning. It is a good complement to your right brain which takes care of beautiful sunsets, exhilarating roller coaster rides and the magic of the road.
*** drifting is not just discovering places it is discovering people people are more exciting than places people are complete universes in themselves they have shooting stars and novas and galaxies and black holes and time tunnels and solar winds inside their souls you can see yourself only in others and in sunsets that pass by momentarily you are a mere reflection of someone you look at if you look at someone with reverence or disdain then you look at yourself you are opaque to yourself the other is totally transparent but only if you discern what you see in others is really yourself if you see beauty or ugliness it is your beauty or your ugliness the more you look inward the more you see a bottomless pit it is only in looking outward that you can see inward if you are able to see the beauty of a single soul in all its stark nakedness you would be struck down in awe and realize your soul is the same
To order the book, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read excerpts from a new book of the author TEN WISDOMS OF THE LORD’S PRAYER http://www.sisterraquel.com/2015/05/collision Book cover, Wings and Wanderlust (click photo to blow-up)