"The truth will set you free... But first it will piss you off."
-Joe Klaas, author of "The 12 Steps to Happiness"
We are going to get off the travel path, and get a little real, here...
This post started as a personal letter, then was edited, and now published.
Perhaps many of you will understand, appreciate, or empathize with what follows (both in words and the many thematically-related black-and-white photographs that accompany them).
Perhaps it will just be confusing or agitating, instead. But I write because these impressions felt, in the moment, like a version of truth worth sharing. That is not to say it is the only truth, or even a verifiable part of it. But I Felt it, and now I'm Sharing it.
Part of our Mexican experience involved a seventy year-old man who didn't know me, didn't speak English, and had no specific reason to be generous, but upon meeting me proceeded to drive me around his city buying one of nearly every local snack and dessert....
I ate five taquitos, two donuts, a sweet roll, a ham and cheese sandwich, juice, chocolate milk, three steamed tacos, a sweet tamale, a fried tortilla with sugar drizzle, and pickled veggies all in the space of a two-hour breakfast, at which point he pressured me with cold cereal! I was so terribly full that I didn't eat until the next day...
Another host, a lad of about twenty five, would stand ready at a moment's notice in the event we asked for a nighttime layover (which we did... three different times...) and yet another drove our gringo tushies across the Mexican state of Morelia three times so as to help us see an authentic, countryside Dia de los Muertos.
And thusly our journey also holds, as expected, a lot of ups and downs.
Sometimes I feel awful, miss the US and my family, and the idea of quitting creeps to the surface. This happens when I'm feeling more alone and wasteful than I ever have due to self-centered tendencies.
Sometimes we find parts of the world that are so beautiful it's unreal, like vast landscapes of strange plantations overthrown with furious skies that hark back to vengeful gods and powerful mysticism.
Sometimes I feel frustrated and angry, like when sacrificing a unique and ecologically rich countryside only to fork out funds for plane tickets because everyone is terrified of the insurgents and guerrilla attacks at the border. It's justifiable. I'm not arguing the logic, merely lamenting the loss.
As mentioned, one of the most reliably impactful pieces has indeed been the people, who can singlehandedly destroy or restore one's faith in humanity.
It may not be wholly "evil," but I'm not sure how to healthily manage it. That's something that I'd like to continue with experimenting and learning.
It's a bit frightening, walking this path. Being authentic takes bravery, especially after a life of careful character-crafting that had people believing you're a certain kind of person. Revoking that image, and replacing it with another (especially a far less attractive one) is scary, and often painful.
I expect it's also worth it, but I could be wrong...
Yet that repulsion is only partially in effect, because I still fail to fully disclose ALL of my thoughts and feelings, meaning that others are privy to my ugly disgusts but not my true desires (which, admittedly, may be even more ugly).
It can sometimes feel lazy, and selfish, and even cruel, but I carry on in hopes of learning from experience, rather than mere mental musings. I suppose I may be waiting for my priorities to more organically shift, or an internal realization to pressure me into behavior modification. I fully recognize it's likely a vain pursuit of some quasi-formed, warped wisdom, but that, too, is a discovery that I feel compelled to make through experience and intuition, rather than manufactured supposition, conjecture, and discussion.
I'll admit that I often do find myself wishing that I would just give up, and re-adopt the people-pleasing, approval-starved, happy-go-lucky facade that I had practiced for so long in my past, replacing what now feels like a dangerously partial version of realness for my previously pleasant self.
I'm not sure what to do.... Go against "the real me" and keep pretending, like I did when I was younger? Or to prod deeper into myself and see what I'm "really" like, even if it hurts?
It also feels gratifying, at times, to nurture and condition a discipline that recognizes, discerns, and appreciates the complex, contradictory, and paradox-riddled expanses of human minds, especially within oneself.
Most folks don't wander there, which is fine. While the inconvenience and loneliness that results from it can be unpleasant, I repeat to myself that we all have different components of humanity that form our souls, and none is worth more or less than another.
That disconnect from misunderstanding, too, is often difficult to tolerate. And I feel quite embarrassed saying that.
I don't presume to "call out" courtesy in its entirety. I do not condone cruel words, or deliberately hurtful comments and insensitive proclamations. I don't support the spouting of mal-contextualized facts in place of whole truth.
In review, I'm not even making a stance. I only hope to explore and experience this geographic and introspective journey I have undertaken, to better understand the effects and the character of truth, learn to recognize it and the role it can play in how we see the world and ourselves.
I miss you all greatly. I literally dream about being home, but equally look forward to continuing on. In the meantime, try to make the best of what we have, and appreciate the Now for what it offers us.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
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