Sunday, May 04, 2008
Take Poland, for example. I know nothing of Poland. A few Polack jokes, a little bit involving World War II, but other than that, zip. How can this be? How can an entire country exist as an empty space between my ears? Same goes for Latvia. Can't tell you squat. This scares me. There are entire countries, millions of people, that remain mere letters on a page in my consciousness. Black ink on white. Blips on a computer screen. I have no connection to them; they have no link to me. Their roads are untouched by my dirty boots. But I was raised in Canada, and I've lived in Japan, Cambodia and the Philippines, and sometimes I think about the rooms that I've lived in. Literally, the rooms. The beds I've slept in. The stairs I've climbed up, then down, then up again. When I think of those places, I think of those rooms. It puts things in context. I can think: I've been there. I've touched that earth. It's abstract no longer. I can localize these places within myself. And sometimes I wish that I could walk the entire globe, every country, every city, every town, every village, every valley, every street. Is that possible? I know the world is vast and a journey such as this would take a lifetime, yes, but there are worse ways to spend a life, I think. At least then I would be able to look at a globe, or stare at a map, and think that there's nothing on this planet that is foreign to me. I can think: I have been down every path, at least once. My boots have dirtied every road there ever is. I've slept in each place. I've showered under every waterfall. I've breathed the same air in multiple points of contact. Every news story would affect me in a personal way, because I'd been there, and done that. Nothing would be foreign. Then I could finally rest my weary legs content with the knowledge that I have been everywhere there is to be. Alien no longer, the world would be. I could step out my front door and know that if I turned either left or right, someplace familiar would be out there, almost waiting for me, wondering where I'd been, and what took me so long to come back.