"For example, the wind has its reasons. We just don't notice as we go about our lives. But then, at some point, we are made to notice. The wind envelops you with a certain purpose in mind, and it rocks you. The wind knows everything that's inside you. And not just the wind. Everything, including a stone. They all know us very well. From top to bottom. It only occurs to us at certain times. And all we can do is go with those things. As we take them in, we survive, we deepen."
- Haruki Murakami, Hear the Wind Song
Regardless of the fact that I have a blog, available 24/7 and on display for almost the entire world to see, I've been rather quiet about who I am, what I want, and where I'm going. Call it a character flaw, or simply the way I learned to deal with my personal life. I've never liked pictures, opting instead to snap the dish in front of me. I was a special kind of "only child" and then later on, with sports teams the silent and composed defensive type, most commonly the one to decline the block party for the stay-at-home-movie, but yet I've always been insanely competitive and wished that the fame I chased after would naturally find me. I originally started this blog as an objective information outlet for Spanish food, drink, chefs and artisans - which there was a large gap in the market minus Ferran Adria - but have found that there actually exists a world out there that wants to know what I'm doing. It's beyond flattering, and frankly may take some time to get used to.
I think this calls for a change in custom, building a new habit, conquering fears, and continuously reaching for my dreams. You see, going to Spain was a dream of mine for many years before I landed officially in November of 2009. That's three years that I've gotten up every morning and questioned (some days more than others) if I made the right decision, all the what ifs of my new life, not if I should have done it, but if what I wanted to come true would in fact become reality. If I was legally able to stay, if I could find work, if I could fall in love, if I would ever understand my new "home" and its people and if things would ever seem permanent. The reality was that those answers didn't matter or didn't need to be clarified because I could sometimes find peace in the moment; go on a 7 kilometer (yikes already thinking in km!) walk just to find the best croquettes in all of Madrid, find the perfect croissant in Barcelona, surrender to an impromptu meal in Santiago, give-in to a cafe con leche, or try for once to read a newspaper article without skipping a word.
However, this world I was trying so hard to forcefully be a part of, apparently isn't my calling at this very moment. Sobremesa In Spain will continue to be Sobremesa In Spain, because - and label it somewhat spiritual if you must - being in Spain signified a leap of faith that I will forever be grateful for, that act of obtaining what you desired. Whether it is fueled by chance, luck, commitment, sacrifice or perseverance, at that moment when you identify with your once reoccurring dream or visualization from an old journal page, that's magic. I cannot avoid the fact that these three years have taught me very much, have left great impressions of a few very close friends, have brought many smiles to my face and resuscitated my heart, while an entire culinary and cultural side of my brain grew to a proportion I wouldn't have deemed possible. I have no doubt that I will be back - I often fantasize about a rural yet connected summer house on top of a hill, just a short bike-ride from the beach (Mediterranean, maybe Atlantic), with baby dairy goats grazing, bells jingling off in the distance, and long outdoor sobremesas with neighbors (expats and Spaniards, young and old), eating from elaborate Moorish ceramic plates, wherein I catch a glimpse of the olive groves and vineyard that is our backyard.
But here is the truth. That life I mentioned above is hopefully in the future. The NOW chapter won't be continuing in Spain. Thankfully there is no job to quit, no things to sell, no expectations to meet, just a passport to carry, a camera and laptop to sling alongside me and a backpack to lug (which has been packed for 6 months anyhow).
Antonio, you know that sweet and handsome guy I've mentioned on here once or twice, he and I are setting off tomorrow for South East Asia. It's currently planned as a three month trip to Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam, but at the same time, nothing will be too planned. I want to live at the speed of a weekend fisherman, not dredging through the bottom of the ocean-floor with intention and obligation to supply the market with fresh fish in the morning by any means necessary. No, this time, I'll go with hopes and dreams and beliefs, but no expectations. If I catch something, great, if I don't then there will always be another time; maybe the weather wasn't right, or the other fisherman had captured the rest.
I could make a bucket list of the things that I hope to see or accomplish while I'm overseas, but that's not my style. There are a lot of things I want to prove to myself, ways to make a difference in this world, my surroundings. But I prefer instead to tell you what I believe in. I want this period of my life to be as much about the elements changing me as me learning from them, through faith, compassion, understanding and carrying an open mind throughout.
Because if you don't start sharing your dreams and beliefs, why should the universe ever grant them to you?
I believe in listening.
I believe in being a respectful traveler.
I believe in volunteering.
I believe if someone offers you a cup of tea in their home, you accept.
I believe that paying to see animals tied to chains for the sole sake of a picture souvenir is wrong on so many levels (travel tips from Right Tourism).
I believe in leaving a place cleaner than when I entered it.
I believe in seeking out information if I don't understand.
I believe there is so much more to eat than pad thai and chicken satay.
I believe in staying up past your bedtime, or waking up while it's still dark to see nature in action.
I believe in learning at least 'hello' and 'thank you' in the language of every country I visit.
I believe that once and a while you must cry after yoga sessions.
I believe in storytelling.
I believe that coconut juice is a perfect substitute for water.
I believe that more powerful means than money can save and need to save this world.
I believe in dreaming.
If you've made it this far, a hearty congratulations goes out to you. May you be blessed as I have, and follow your dreams. If you'd like to stick around and see where this new adventure takes me (us), please do.
"Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it"
- Ferris Bueller