High Atop CorcovadoThere they are, the spews du jour. Another Gonzo acolyte will plead the fifth. Turd Blossom gouged the taxpayer for political purposes. The Idiot King's 2004 campaign manager expresses a true "well, duh!" moment.
It's Sunday morning and my patience with these crapweasels is short. I must think about something else or I'll go mad. And, the thing I've decided to think about is, "wow, just WOW!" That's Peacechick Mary's comment about Friday's post, Tea and Cookies in Turkey.
Mary's comment took me by surprise.
Cookies is a typical memoir post for me. They allow me to escape the unrelenting vicious political screeds and humdrum boredom of life. I can wander through more pleasant times and vicariously live a little via memories.
The memoirs are the chocolates that wipe the foul taste of a bad meal from my mouth.
Oddly, the exotic times don't seem like WOWs to me. Rather, they're an extension of my present - a quiet and vanilla life filled with everyday pleasures and annoyances. Over the years, I've burnished my memories through constant use. In hindsight, they shine in the sun, lustrous and illuminating.
But, they weren't always like that.
The Everyday Exotic
At the time, they seemed much less romantic and more like everyday experiences - because they were. For a time, my everyday life was filled with hundreds of events like Cookies. Before I turned 30, I'd survived a childhood in daily contact with two schizophrenics, interviewed Daniel Elsberg, and traveled to every US state and Canadian province. I'd visited 25 countries on every continent save Australia and Antarctica - from Yokohama to Tehran, Point Barrow to Punta Arenas. I'd already had a career as a writer and photographer and moved along to aviation - a career that lasted more than another 10 years in various capacities.
Someday, I may tell you about standing atop Corcovado looking at the beauty of nighttime Rio. If I do, I'm sure the breathtaking beauty will come through because that's the way I like to remember it.
But at the time, it was different.
I'd been traveling non-stop for nearly four years. That night came during a 16-day swing through South America. My life was over-full with exotic places and experiences, and quite frankly, I'd begun to take them for granted.
In real life, that night was beautiful, but also telling.
I stood there with a good college friend who lived in Rio. Although she'd seen this view dozens of times, she was captivated. We stood hand-in-hand in the star-filled night with the shining Christ statue at our backs and she said, "Isn't that the most beautiful thing you've ever seen?"
And I replied, "Yeah, it's OK."
It was incredibly beautiful and I saw that, even at the time. But by that night, my eyes had already seen so much I expected excitement as my due. I was jaded. I saw the beauty, but didn't feel it. It's only now, 30 years on, that I have the luxury of distance and the maturity to appreciate the life I led.
The stories I tell really happened. I lived them. The details are all true. My only edits are exorcising the boring parts and presenting the shiny remainders so the stories conform to my idealized memory.
Comments like Mary's are frequent. Some say they envy my life and wish they'd lived even a small portion of it. I'm flattered by those comments, but they make me think about stories like Cookies.
All in a Day's Work
Walking the airplane back up that hot, dusty runway was simply my work. There was always a tomorrow when I could dip my toes into the Black Sea or see a remote place few people ever visit. I surely enjoyed the tea and cookies, but I'd broken bread in many exotic locales and accepted the kindness of people like the Turkish man and his grandson many times before.
It makes me realize that someone else's life always seems more exciting than your own. Their experiences are unique and that makes them fresh and exciting. With the benefit of hindsight, I also realize something else. I've lived my life as you see it. Looking back from afar and savoring it as you sometimes do. I wish I could step back into the past and relive those stories - this time, smarter and wiser - but I can't.
In the end, I only have the stories and they will have to do.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, April 01, 2007