“The only journey is the one within” Rainer Maria Rilke
You can’t escape from meeting people while being on the road. Surely, you may try to avoid any contact with them, but isn’t it one of the most important reasons for which we leave our home anyway? If it hadn’t been for all those encounters with seemingly unknown people (who sometimes are more close to you than your real relatives) what would all those journeys have meant? How many times can you write the same words? How many times can you go back to visit the same places? And why? Just for sheer pleasure? For the sake of experiencing the same things more consciously? To find something which was overlooked, with the hope that not everything went away, and that this time you will be able to focus your attention better, just to see something in its real form?
Sometimes it seems to me that I can’t live in the present and I still have to return somewhere, to elbow my way – not figuratively, but literally, physically. That, in fact, I still live in the past, and all my attention is focused on what had already happened. That I make up and tell the alternative stories which sometimes appear to be more real than those experienced and once told.
Robert Piłat, a Polish professor, elaborating on the subject of people’s cognitive abilities refers to Bergson and tells about instantaneous experiences of meaning – experiences that are either mystical or aesthetic, which allow us “register” reality better. And by asking a rhetorical question where that reality could be found, he refers to Zofia Król, a Polish writer, and quotes a fragment of her book “Powrót do świata”: “There is magic that allows us to reach that reality.”
I wanted to visit the Colombian cats I had sheltered two years earlier in the village called Zarzal, but they somehow disappeared. There was not even one. They hid themselves in the bushes. It is said that one of them became a mother. So be it. A few little creatures run around the house, and run away at the sight of man. Maybe it was their mother who advised them not to come along. Escape from any human attempts to stroke them, or even touch them. Well, maybe the mother was right. Why should they get used to the men? Why should they get used to me? At the end, as always, only sadness would be left. Surely, I could not take any of those feline creatures with me. And yet, supposedly “we always remain in the eyes of Cats.”
I saw three of them. I approached closer, but in an instant they just fled to the garden. The leaves of the trees swirled. I stood and waited. The cats did not come back. A white-black spot moved in the greenish landscape. I did not need any magic to know that it was her. The cat was watching me from the dense, bushy shrubs. I knew that she would not come out, and that the green curtain would not open that time. Neither would the meeting end with even one, the gentlest touch. And that in fact, that meeting did not start at all – although despite of that or maybe thanks to that it will last forever.
And Colombia? Yes, it has started. It has started with lots of meetings and probably it will end with plenty of meetings, too. We go along, being blessed and favoured, invited for conversations, even invited to stay for a couple of days, as it was in the case of Mario and Maricel, whose generosity and great hospitality I was able to experience once again. We were able to take a rest in exceptionally comfortable conditions, which we appreciated very much so, after a very strenuous ten-days section of Quito-Cali. We spent five unforgettable days and, as a farewell, we got a beautiful stovetop espresso maker to stop using socks for brewing exceptionally aromatic, Colombian coffee.
Let’s only hope, I won’t lose that watchfulness. Because we perceive the world in its real form thanks to our attention and concentration, thanks to the proper direction of the mind. In the aforementioned radio programme professor Piłat says that if we experience a moment too intensely, then “we seem to be losing ourselves, as if we melted in that experience. It happens so not because the time passes, but because we leave in that moment the best side of ourselves.” It sounds gloomy, that is true, but even if professor is right – so be it. After all, would it be anything more beautiful than to be able to burn at the end with the bright flame? To burn with the flame after which only pure, white dust would remain? “There must be a meaning in any burning, otherwise the burning ash means nothing.”