I miss the language that I could not fully tap into. I hated the limitation bound to my conversations, but as I fill silence now with jokes and fleeting observations, I appreciate the selective necessity of spanish conversations. I could only say what was important at the time, and laughter relied on the willingness of strangers to give me the benefit of the doubt that what I said or heard was funny.
I made that mistake yesterday. The person on the receiving end of "Hola" was a middle-class white man, and was caught off guard by the simple word that had been so normal for me two days prior. I am still adjusting. I didn't realize how easily and thoroughly we can adapt to new environments. The Chucao's song (above) was a daily occurence in the Patagonian region, while new and exciting finds such as this beautiful Flying Deer Beetle were abundant in our new environment for learning. I was taught to remain curious. I had to be curious in a foreign environment. But the act of curiosity seems to often be lost in our daily lives here. Why not walk through the world open to finding hidden treasures in the patterns of clouds, crawling on tree trunks, or in the ways that we walk? I learned to be constantly aware of my environment, and myself in my environment. The focus of the class was on the natural world and I made a point of extending it to the people as well.
But then, there were moments like this. My tired eyes clogged with sleep would roll out of bed, unzip the zipper, and catch the sun creating paintings that would be gone as quickly as they were created never to be seen again. Life seems to be made of moments like these. Beautiful happenings that only occur once in a lifetime. There is an art to letting in and go of these moments gracefully, accepting them as they are, cherishing the sights, smells and sounds, and storing the memories delicately alongside the others in our beings. Many of these spoken of moments play over and over in my mind, triggered by the senses, leaving remnant feelings in my physical body that remind me of where I have been and what I have done. While part of me longs to recreate them, another part smiles knowing they will never be recreated, and that is the magic. Our life is made of moments, and while a camera helps to save them, the memories are always the most potent.
I allowed myself to be absorbed by this environment. I adapted to its natural rhythms, and learned the names of the trees and flowers. Above is the Canelo Tree, or Drimys winterii, with miraculously vibrant green leaves with white undersides. This is the first tree I learned, and I found comfort in knowing why it was there, what it needed, and the services it provided for us. It became a friend, who I was excited to see sometimes short, sometimes tall, always fully present. This intimate relationship is what I love about nature. It is there, always exactly as it is, waiting for us to listen in a new way.
Now, as I wrap up my final post about Chile, I want to thank you for spending time to learn about my experience. Sharing experiences is a way to validate ourselves in this world full of them. I am honored to have met all of the people and places that I did along my journey, and I wish the best for them on the rest of theirs. As for you, please feel free to send me questions or comments or invitations to drink coffee and talk in person. I would love to hear the stories you have to tell, I hope you enjoyed mine.
Con mucho amor,