In the wee hours of this morning it occurs to me that after coming home from being in the Big Sur that what keeps me awake isn’t the jet lag but the sheer sense of wanting to fully grasp what it was in that place that so captured the soul. Henry Miller speaks of finding paradise in his book BIG SUR AND THE ORANGES OF HIERONYMUS BOCH and about how some people find it there while other’s aren’t courageous enough to open themselves to it. I’m paraphrasing of course, but there is something to it. The paradise there may not be for everyone, but finding it and not letting go off it may require a sense of courage because keeping it means letting go off a lot of other things that you may not be ready to part with. Henry Miller doesn’t have much compassion for such people claiming: “The most difficult thing to adjust to, apparently, is peace and contentment.” (6%)
It is maybe a bit of an exaggeration. People find paradise in different things and peace and quiet isn’t for everyone. I know this, but his words still hit me like a sledgehammer to the head, because that place spoke to me in such a manner that I have only experienced something like it once before, and that was traveling Iceland with my father as a fifteen year old. That girl and I still have quite a lot in common it seems. She too had an affection for far away places, hard to reach, slightly hazardous and/or awe-inspiring. Places filled with magical creatures.
The last full day in California I decided to go back for the day to Big Sur. Just to make sure that I hadn’t been dreaming it, I guess. I could have done other things. Looked at Santa Cruz more closely, which I should have done because it seems a lovely city, or take a day trip to a new place I hadn’t seen before, perhaps the mountains – I love mountains. But once the idea hit my head I was unable to let it go and so I drove to the Big Sur with OCEAN by GOLDFRAPP featuring DAVE GAHAN blasting in the stereo all the way there (and back). That song will forever remind me of that trip as I couldn’t seem to let go of it – God knows why, but it seemed to create a feeling, or perhaps it brought forward that feeling, made it clear and untarnished.
Big Sur isn’t the only thing about my trip to California that will leave my heart aching for a long time. The generosity and kindness of people there is one thing. While kindness to strangers may at times be superficial and two faced what I experienced seemed a genuine want to bring happiness to the world, make it slightly better, connect – if only for a second over things that don’t matter all that much.
And sitting in the company of like minded people is something I will always cherish about this trip. Their generosity and kind words were not only uplifting but created a surge of ego, a sense of _I can do this_ which is so welcome and I will forever be thankful to them for making me feel as if I was one of them, this strange, awkward little Icelander.
The last day I woke up not too early, after a sleepless night. Something had been on my mind that kept me awake and I opted for as much sleep as possible knowing that I had a long day ahead of me. When I did wake I quickly packed my things, threw them haphazardly in the bag after an entire trip of meticulously folding and rolling clothes and putting everything in its right place, and I left the place I had been staying, a lovely back-house in a quiet neighbourhood and as I was leaving the black and white cat that always lay sleeping in chair outside my house seemed to anxiously say goodbye to me, almost as if it was pleading for me to stay a little while longer.
I drove off – took CA1 and just drove. Stopped every now and then, knowing very well that no matter how many stops I’d make I’d be way too early at the airport. I took detours, but was still early as I feared. It was also strangely easy to leave the car (Oh how I loved that car) and get to the right terminal. Thankfully the airport had internet so I could chat with a close friend of mine while waiting for the check-in to open.
It was so strangely easy to fly home that I almost feel as if the whole thing, the whole trip even, was just a strange wonderful dream that I now find myself waking up from. We flew over the fires, a reminder that the world is a dangerous place that needs our attention and courage, and instead of entertaining myself I just kept listening to my song over and over again as I did nothing but try to put thoughts to the feelings this trip has created.
No, it is hardly jet lag that keeps me awake, but the souls will to decipher the effects the Californian sun and its many inhabitants has had on me. The souls will to remind me that this was not a dream.
And on that note I will leave you with words from one of the many authors I discovered on this trip: Henry Miller, again from BIG SUR AND THE ORANGES OF HIERONYMUS BOCH: (7%)
“Some will say they do not wish to dream their lives away. As if life itself were not a dream, a very real dream from which there is no awakening! We pass from one state of dream to another: from the dream of sleep to the dream of waking, from the dream of life to the dream of death. Whoever has enjoyed a good dream never complains of having wasted his time. On the contrary, he is delighted to have partaken of a reality which serves to heighten and enhance the reality of everyday.”
May this dream never end.