I wish we didnt have so many screens. Or any screens. I think its making everyone depressed. Or maybe its just me. I want to go back to the forest. To sleep under the pines and feel the wind pass over my face. Now its all walls and ceilings. They are meant to keep us in. To separate civility from chaos. It makes us forget what we are. Be wary of the illusion. The ducks play in the water all day because they can.
I should chill on this wine, I haven’t been drunk since I moved to Utah. It’s new year’s eve and I’m alone just like I was alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I will be alone on my birthday in 22 days. It’s OK. Last year on Christmas I was at a pool party at a hostel in New Zealand and on new year’s eve I was at a friend’s wedding in Australia. Now I’m here. Listening to Childish Gambino’s new album. James Franco is the white Donald Glover don’t you ever forget. He said he just makes everything for everyone. That has stuck with me. I just write shit and see what happens. God damn he is so creative. Best TV show of the year, great music and he’s going to be fucking Lando. No one can just be one thing these days. You have to be a powerful creator. Powerful creators can do anything and everything. It’s something inside your bones that radiates electricity. I remember the last time I felt electricity. I was with the one I pine over and it was years ago. She was right though she saw the future and I have no control.
I am just a breathe.
That’s what yoga has taught me. I am just a breathe. My legs are different lengths and nothing is perfect I have a scar on my back from the same cancer that took the Singer. When I walked into the surgeon’s officer he said, melanoma, that’s what the Singer died of. Did he know that I sing his songs or did he just assume since I have long hair and a beard? Some things just can’t be explained. I just wonder sometimes if this is all a game and things are thrown at me, no they are thrown at everyone but most people don’t listen. They are distracted, busy dealing with what is placed in front of them. I found this notebook full of drawings when I worked at the recycling plant. I don’t understand how people can throw away such meaningful, inspired pieces of art. Some artists just create and create and create and then their final work of art is to throw it all away. But I found it and they have no idea. They don’t know that everything people throw in the recycling bin floats by on a conveyor belt and humans watch it and some let if float by but sometimes these humans feel something. Cardboard, newspaper, plastic bottles, a lawnmower, and then a beautiful work of art. How did that get there? Why did someone throw this away?
The book is full of cathartic sketches. The one I can’t stop thinking about says: “a fox contemplates the skull of his dead mother in his den. he resents death and is trying to justify to himself his existence as a meat eating creature.”
Why am I here? I don’t eat meat anymore but I still consume. I have to consume. I have to bend otherwise I would break. I don’t want any of this. I am surrounded by humans who ignore the truth. They don’t think about what I know. They didn’t sit under the mountains in New Zealand for hours just staring into the eyes of the world. They didn’t grab the calves and throw them into the trailer an hour after they were born. They didn’t hear their mother’s screams. I’m sorry. I’ms ororry. I;msorry. I didn know. I didnlt kmnownijsdfjf HOw can I eve be forgiven for thes etransgressions. This is the way I was raised and no one told me what it was I just consumed. I;m sorry. WE are the same. I would graldy give myself for your life. I am sorry. Esther forgive me. They don;’t know. They don;’t knoe waht I feel inside. They didn’t hitch hike up and down and up and down the south island and they never talked to the people I talked to and they never stood on the street with a backpack and a guitar and they never stuck out their thumb and waited. Just waited. In the rain. I just waited and then a sweet little old lady picked me up and she said she just lieks driving. I love you. I love everyone. I love you all. Hitch hiking gives you so much overwhelming love. SO many strangers that touched me and I know I touched them. Thanky you all. It’s 9:59 it’s almost a new year in Virginia where all of my family lives. Happy new year.
There’s a good chance the world as we know it will end in 2017. I am a journalist how do I inform the public of our wrongs? I can’t. It’s a losing game. The Earth will always win. Let your climate anxiety go the Earth will be fine. Everything will be fine. Animals, humans will die off, never to be seen again. But the past 100 years is a blink of an eye. The Earth is strong. The Earth will prevail. Us? These human bodies that we occupy? ha. hahah. Yoga has begun to teach me. I know nothing, I am nothing. But I am on the right path. Yes, I know that. I am sure of that. It takes years and years and years and life times and life times but eventually a human can come face to face with god. A human can become god with enough patience. It takes time. I am nothing. I am nothing. I am just a breathe. My guru is tough. She pushes me and I don’t even know if she knows. But I know.
My aunt wrote me a Christmas card and said she hopes I find true happiness in 2017. That was the best Christmas present I received. I grew up with a living room full of things on dec. 25. So many things that I didn’t even really want or need. I mean I wanted them at the time. But that was before I was me. I didn’t know we are in a crisis. How can I justify my existence now? I need a new laptop I need new gloves and I need new boots but do I really? The harddrive is dead and it’s not working right now and my fingers and my feet were freezing this morning when I woke up at 5:30 to ride along on a snowmobile with a cross country ski trail groomer and I saw the stars twinkle above and the foot of snow sparkled below and he yelled back at me telling me facts about skiing. The wind was whipping and biting my fingers and legs and all I have is the 30 dollar steel toe boots I bought for working at the recycling plant. But do I NEED anything? Hitch hiking taught me that everything will be OK as long as I’m not going to die. It taught me to wait in the rain because eventually someone would see me and accept the quest that I presented. I am a quest. I didn’t need anything. I gave away the clothes that I spent 100sand100s of dollars on because I was rich with Australian bartending money. I had so much money from Australia and then New Zealand taught me that I don’t need anything. I bought so much shit from Kathmandu and then I gave it all away. I was buying life lessons. If I had never left the cave I would never be sitting here in a Mormon’s living room writing these words on new year’s eve, alone. But that cave was so comfortable. I never knew that an entire world existed outside of that cave. We should have never left that cave.
But it is selfish to stay in the cave. And it is selfish to reproduce in multiples of threee. I want to reproduce too but you guys are clogging up the world with all of your babies. Please, stop. Every organism wants to carry on their genes, but not when we are in a global crisis. And, no, I won’t write run on sentences, thank you very much even if you expect that since I am drinking wine and I have a very low tolerance. I have style, OK? I refuse to be predictable. But maybe you already knew I would do this. WTF.
Wine is a high functioning drink for me. Beer makes me annoying. Liquor makes me blackout and do dumb shit. But wine, wine gives me a clear head. At least I think it does when I drink wine. I wish I had some friends around here. But I chose this fate and I write things in the newspaper everyday and writing about people makes it hard to make friends. I have a coffee date with a 29-year-old single mom next week. Tinder is fucking lame.
OK, you’re losing steam here, buddy. Find where you were. I wasn’t anywhere, man. There is no point to this. You were watching King Ragnar Lothbrok drink wine with King Ecbert and speaking in kings’ riddles and you were drinking wine with them and laughing and jesting and enjoying the company of two old friends and then King Aella killed Ragnar.
God damn I fucking hate how Macs had to make everything different from PCs.
I fall through dimensions and I’m no longer a newspaper reporter and I don’t have to think about what I am covering tomorrow or who I am interviewing.
There is only the fall.
The others are falling too. Into their mats. We fall together in formation.
She walks among us. In her bare feet on the wooden floor.
She helps us fall. I can hear her step behind my head. Her hands press into my shoulders and I fall faster and I smile wider and I breathe deep and my bladder is near my eye.
The only god I worship is my yoga instructor.
In shivasana, I fall.
How can I fall today? How can I fall now?
I come straight from the city council meeting. My fake life is too vivid, too real, too fresh. It still occupies my head. How am I supposed to explain everything? There are experts on everything and I know nothing. All I know how to do is ask questions. There is just too much too much history that I walked in on too much I don’t know and I am supposed to be the gate keeper I have a duty a responsibility. All of my sources are sitting here all the people I quote and someone says my story wasn’t very clear but I did my best I can’t explain everything. Life is complicated.
I’m trying to fall. But I can’t connect. Can someone turn me off and then turn me back on again?
There is too much information to sift through and my head hurts.
My physical body fees rejuvenated. My legs are relaxed my shoulders are down but my head was left behind. Someone grab it for me. Screw it back on.
It’s five AM and it’s dark and cold. I’m sipping burnt instant coffee out of the mug they gave away freshman year and eating porridge with tropical fruit trail mix out of the aluminum bowl I got a thrift store in New Zealand. I’m listening to a story on public radio about refuge children who went missing in Europe.
Please stop telling me how many miles to Des Moines. You just told me ten miles ago and that city means nothing to me. It is just a reminder that I’m still in Trump country and I still have a long, long way to go. It’s too early to be thinking about Des Moines.
An Irish immigration expert is talking about something but all I hear is her accent. She is from Dublin so she doesn’t talk like you. And then she says one word and I start to time travel.
I can imagine you saying that word exactly how the woman on the radio says it.
Maybe it was when we were cooking mushrooms, brown rice and lentils by the river and our family of mischievous ducks wouldn’t stop trying to steal our food.
Or maybe it was when walked through the forest with big bottles of beer and made up stories about the lives of trees and you told me all the things you never told anyone else.
No, it was when the status of our relationship was determined by the texture of peanut butter and the variety of jam in my sandwich.
It’s before dawn and I barely got any sleep and I’m idealizing women from my past again.
Ninety-eight miles to Des Moines and all I can see is corn.
Women from Argentina are not “ladies.” They are strong and beautiful and they tell dirty jokes. I am constantly mesmerized and infatuated by their version of Spanish. It is passionate, flowing, comical and improvisational. They love to laugh and share. English is a buzz kill. Clumsy and awkward. Just look at these words. Gross.
Juan asks Juli if she wants some yerba mate, a popular South American tea.
“Yes. I always want mate,” she says matter-of-factly with a furrowed brow.
“Sean, why are you traveling?” she asks abruptly.
We are sitting on the grass by my van and their tents on a small, tiered campground in Frankton. There is little privacy here. There is nothing to stop anyone from unzipping a tent and stealing passports and other valuables. Large houses flank us on either side and only a small apple tree serves as a barrier to State Route 6. We must look very out of place to the cars driving by on their way to Queenstown. But that’s why I chose to stay here. It’s interesting.
“That’s a big question,” I say.
“No, it’s a long answer,” she says.
I give a convoluted explanation about my Dad kicking me out of the house, my temp job ending, and my girlfriend breaking up with me in the first week of June 2014 and then moving to Australia to live with my best friend in the middle of the desert and then not wanting to go home so I came to New Zealand and then I somehow ended up here.
My journey chose me—I never planned this—but Juli was more deliberate.
“I was spending my day going to work and then at the end of the month I get a paycheck and then I save it. Why?” she asks. “I thought I would come to New Zealand for six months but now I want to travel the world. I don’t care if I don’t have any money.”
A month later I’m standing on the side of road a few kilometers outside of Motueka. I’ll tell you how I got there some other time.
Two tasty-looking Porches with empty passenger seats scream by and I fully extend my arm but they ignore my thumb.
A small blue sedan stops in front of me.
Bronson asks where I’m going. He is wearing a black baseball cap and has a few days of growth on his face.
“Takaka,” I say.
He shoots me a hang loose surfer gesture and says hop in.
Bronson is forty-years-old and has four kids. The oldest is 19 and he is off traveling the world. Bronson looks after his three younger children and works three days a week.
“I work to live,” he says. “I don’t live to work.”
He is heading to Takaka on this beautiful Sunday morning to play in a football match, a sport referred to as soccer where I’m from. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make any sense.
He lived in Portland, Oregon for a couple years and loved it.
I say you hear a lot of bad stuff coming from the U.S., but traveling is all about the people you meet. There are nice people everywhere you go.
The conversation drifts to U.S. politics and of course, Trump. I say there are a lot of Americans out there who are conscious about the world but there are also lots of Americans who rarely leave their home state or hometown. Maybe they are uneducated or live in poverty but they are more likely to support Donald Trump. The system has failed and Trump is bringing out the worst in people.
He asks if I smoke as we pull over. He rolls a cigarette and says you can have a cone if you want. He already had one this morning.
He shows me the “Sneaky Toke” he’s had for years. It’s a self-contained metal tube with one end to light and one end to inhale. It works like a charm and I thank him for brightening my day.
We drive on and talk about some deep shit, most of which I have forgotten.
We crest a hill and a wide valley opens up between green mountains and the coast. There are pine forests and dairy farms with a few houses dotting the landscape. I talk about how there are so many landscapes in New Zealand. Otago is a sub-alpine desert. The Fiordlands, in the southwest corner, reminded me of Jurassic Park.
“Isn’t it just,” he says. “A land lost in time.”
I mention that I’ve spoken to a lot of people about the ecosystems in New Zealand and how introduced humans and animals have changed the country over the past 1,000 years.
New Zealand is known for its clean and green environment, he says, but that’s not the reality. It seems like every Kiwi I’ve talked to would agree. Tourism is New Zealand’s No. 1 export, so the whole “clean and green” thing gets repeated ad nauseam, especially from Australians. But if you get off the tourist track and spend time observing and talking to locals, you realize the entire country has been sold off to the dairy and logging industries to the detriment of the environment. Stay tuned for more on that, my loyal readers.
Bronson talks about how there needs to be a big change in the way we view the world. I feel you, man.
The conversation drifts and I talk about a Bob Marley interview I saw on YouTube. He is asked if he is rich. Marley replies, what do you mean rich? The interviewer says, do you have a lot of possessions and money in the bank? He responds, “My richness is life, forever.”
With one week left in New Zealand and my Australian savings pretty much depleted at this point, that’s how I feel right now. I don’t have a lot of money, but I feel rich.
“Rich with experience,” he says.
We’ve been driving for a while and Bronson starts to worry that he has taken a wrong turn. He doesn’t want to be late for his match.
“Isn’t there only one road?” I say.
“I just thought we should be there by now,” he says. “But yeah, when you said that it reassured me.”
Now we are getting close to Takaka.
“So you’re heading back home in a week,” he says. “What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know, man,” I say.
“I thought the point of traveling was to figure out what you want to do,” he says.
“No, traveling just makes you want to travel more,” I say.