A Peruvian sky painted with strokes of magic only a thunderstorm can create plays out in front of me. My exhaustion complete, I sink deeper into the grass and dirt and drift away from life, away from the world, away from reality.
Silence envelops the valley around me and the storm’s energy is waking my soul. I stare into the eyes of the Year of the Tiger, is it time to surrender or attack?
A broken spirit is the debt to be paid for a year well-lived. The reward? To stand at the precipice of a new year and do it all over again.
Life is brilliant in this way.
Reflecting on the turmoil of the past year, my exhale is more than a sigh. Battle scars feel fresh as yesterday and make this annual walk across the razor’s edge, the balance between decadence and restoration, even more difficult.
Respect the responsibility of the past year and accept the penance of another expedition. Ignore the aches and move on.
Around me are whispers, words I do not understand. The beauty around me invites me to stay, but I’m unable to grasp a hold of this place – unable to settle down. The simple wish for solace does not reconcile with my actions… so I continue to leave unfinished business behind.
Blurred faces in the crowd, their crisp eyes speak freely. Lives I wish to experience, minds bearing the weight of the world. Things unsaid pushing us forward.
Finish it. Take the beating. Absorb the blows and with greater devotion continue the pursuit. Is there a better feeling than to shake off the pain and find the strength to stand again?
To be unafraid. The heart of youth backed by a soul of aged wisdom. I can barely remember such a time.
The brashness, insolence of an unharnessed spirit, one found in the true men and women of history: a blend of courage and kindness. I wonder, is one much different than the other?
Naked in the shadows I sit in defiance on the brink of the new year. The morning leaves me empty. I’m not looking to change the world, but to just get by. A cup of coffee. Eight hours of drudgery. A cold beer, a queen of the night, and decompression in front of a television. And it goes on, ad nauseam.
Is this not finding solace within the chaos of life?
The spell of a sunrise over an enchanted land has me lost, a fleeting sense of wonderment of where it’ll take me before it is broken by the comfort of my barstool ~ a place to sit uninterrupted and rail against life iniquities secretly wishing for something, anything, to fall into my lap. Chasing dreams is too exhausting. So I wait.
Waiting… the ode of a has-been.
When the next great thing fails to appear I’ll lower expectations. Another beer, perhaps? Another smoke, why not? A handout, a little hard stuff to make life a bit easier to deal with? Yes, yes, and yes. Eventually, the wait for the end will arrive.
Ah, my laughter feels good, the remnants of a defiant mind.
A glance at the scene outside, it’s all unfamiliar. The refusal to be swallowed up by the mindless cycle of blandness by veering into the unknown is my escape pod. A chance to bend the rules again and my schism is complete ~ off my barstool ready to push the envelope once again.
This rollercoaster of competing desires: the life of a has-been versus the life of a pioneer…
Follow the rules to enjoy the privilege of living in an orderly world, and bend the rules to stretch the spirit and evolve. There are no absolutes, there are no easy answers.
I spin off in another direction, leaving my cold coffee behind along with my feeling of hesitation… did chasing false hope allow the spirit of the pioneer to drift away?
The twinge of electricity says ‘nah.’ Behind the façade of the loafer is an eagerness to learn, it’s the spice of recklessness ~ the unfinished business we all share. Action is inevitable.
Words of the stoic philosopher Seneca reverberate throughout the valley of the Andes: you want to live, not just exist. Resist the squandering of life and instead earn it.
Everything of value should be earned. Effort and devotion is how one earns value. Earns respect. Earns trust. Earns the right to dream with the valuable lesson that what one works for should never be frittered away.
Break from expectations, bend a rule or two, attack the Year of the Tiger and roll with the punches as they come.
The unanticipated. The unexpected.
It causes the heart to beat a bit quicker, hair to stand on end, and eyes to focus upon an upcoming epiphany.
We are creatures of habit. Of the many things we do, we do because it’s a foregone conclusion. Within us, however, is a surprise. An innate and beautiful desire to pick a moment where we do the one thing no one expected at all.
Unfinished business. Finish it.
A life of the expected, rich in comfort easily hides its restrictive chains. Conversely, a micro-second of the unexpected, rich in wisdom flaunts the desire of freedom.
Two sides of the same coin. Struggle is necessary for comfort to exist, without strength we’d never know weakness, and without the blandness of life an unexpected shift could not move the soul.
And with this thought, the has-been in me smiles, pops open a beer and pays a compliment to the pioneer.
I move across the abyss into a new realm ~ the words of St. Vincent leading the way, “Living in fear in the Year of the Tiger” 🎶
Your photos are sweeping, wonderfully dramatic and it was interesting to read your thoughts in this year of the Tiger about whether to spend the days enjoyably purring, or to hunt for new experiences! I feel more like a has-been these days but I hope the year will bring a bit more energy and movement 🙂
Thank you, Andrea. Yes, there is always this push-pull when thinking how to enjoy a day ~ to relish the calm moments, especially with a nice cup of morning coffee and then figure out what new adventure lies ahead 🙂 It does seem both the past couple years and a more unsettled world we live in this year but agree with your hope that this year brings a bit more energy and movement. Wish you a wonderful spring ahead. Take care ~
We lived right next door to Peru in Bolivia, SA for seven years. Love it, beautiful country as I am sure Peru is. Lovely culture also.
Bolivia was this little dream I had on this trip to visit for a few days – but did not get the opportunity. The next trip I plan to Peru will to spend some time at Lake Titicaca and from there venture into Bolivia and then explore this country as well. A friend of mine took this route about a decade ago and could not stop talking about the beauty of the land and people. How fortunate you were to be able to spend seven years there – thank you very much for the inspiration 🙂 Wish you a great spring time ahead (or I guess down in SA it would be autumn :-)). Cheers ~
I have never been to South America, so enjoyed the photos.
Many thanks for following my blog, which is appreciated.
Best wishes, Pete.
Thank you very much, Pete. Coming from the western part of the USA, I had figured that there would be many opportunities to travel to South America and surprised it took me so long. It was one of those experiences that I’ll always treasure and be able to reflect upon. Cheers to a magnificent spring and opportunities ahead. Take care ~
Wow…thanks for this ride. It’s nice to know that someone else not only feels the way I do…but can articulate it in ways that touch the soul! Beauty…all of it, Randall. The words which meander touching upon truths that must be as old as time…the photos, as always, poignant with feeling.
Sending warm thoughts and wishes that you will, indeed, live this life! ❤
How great to read this comment today, Lorrie 🙂 It is always nice when stumbling my inner thoughts, and as you say, truths that have such a scope of accuracies since the philosophers so long ago, and rings a bell with another in today’s world. Reflecting on the photos and times in Peru felt good and even with some bumps already happening in ’22, there is such great hope this will be a wonderful year. Wishing you well as you pursue what you desire. Cheers ~
We are navigating strange times and even as I feel that I have come so far, there are still times of uncertainty and I’m not sure that I have the answers I need. Then I connect with someone like you, Randall, and everything feels like it is exactly what it is supposed to be…and I am grateful! Sending back wishes of the same to you!😊🙏
Stunning! The words, the photos….everything! 🙂
Ciao, buona domenica
Thank you very much, wish you a great day.
Compelling work, Randall! I featured this post on my blog today.
Wonderful, Mitch, thank you very much and I enjoyed very much the comments of your followers. Wishing you the absolute best for you and your family 🙂
Great writing to my untamed mind. This is in part why I do a wilderness expedition here and there
Thank you very much Gary for this wonderful comment ~ there is something special about an untamed mind, a constant searching and seeking wisdom and experience. It makes more a more interesting life, and I like to think a life in tune to a more natural state where brushing off a little dirty we can find goodness just about anywhere. Cheers to a great summer and great exploring of what is out there.