Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Amidst the Noise and Haste

I came here to write a blog post about Americans working too much and also do some other work. I won't even diminish the fun irony of that sentence by commenting further on it...unless I just did. I will just go straight into telling you that the Americans Working Too Much will have to wait, because I have just entered a profound and euphoric state and I have to tell someone about it.

San Sebastian has always been my favorite plaza in Cuenca and I can't tell you why. It is at the edge of the historic El Centro, the area responsible for Cuenca's UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. It is bordered by San Sebastian cathedral, the Art Museum housed in an old convent, and some small, unremarkable businesses. Because it is away from the commercial core and any other kind of traffic generator, it is always a very tranquil setting. The fountain is usually not running (as most aren't in Ecuador), but it has been running in five minutes on, five minutes off cycles right now for reasons probably only two guys in Cuenca's public works department probably know. The pauses in the fountain are welcome, though, because opera music is playing from speakers on the light posts at an uncharacteristically modest volume (Ecuadorians love it loud and distorted, typically). It is bordered on two sides with fairly constant traffic, including that of the perpetually smell, noisy town buses, but somehow feels isolated from it. There are birds singing in the trees. And there are eight people I see from where I sit who are also doing nothing but sitting, watching, thinking, so I'm not the only one. Except I'm the only one mucking it up by thinking onto a computer (gah, I'm such a loser!).

I give you the F. Scott Fitzgerald treatment to detail here, not because I'm trying to bring you into my mental euphoria right now (all F. Scott did for me was create a profound sense of boredom that I suppose could be the state that meditators speak of when they lose all care about the world around them); I tell you all this because…well, I guess because I can't figure out why this park does it for me so much. Maybe all that will trigger a memory of someone else who's had this in a particular place and had insight into why that was.

I mean, the easy answer is all the reasons I gave, but I think there are plenty of places like this. Why this place? And—deep breath and hold it; we're about to go deep—I take stock in the phrase we do not see the world as it is; we see the world as we are. Really, all this is just a particular pattern of sensory input to which my brain provides an emotional response: euphoria in this case. So the question is, can I take this with me? Can I imagine, envision, and trick my brain into this place when I am not in it?

That's an important questions now, because we are talking about leaving Cuenca now and making our plans. And I will miss this particular place if I cannot take it with me in my mental carry-on.

I once returned from a long trip to Australia and New Zealand and was driving my truck down busy Colfax Avenue in Denver and had a strange sensation that I was moving through the world much slower than everyone and everything around me. It was a similar feeling of being removed from the world as it is, or of seeing the world as we all believe it to be from the place that it truly is.

I don't know, but a bird just pooped on my screen, and I'm taking that as a sign from God that I may be overthinking it.

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