06/25 Northern Europe

25 Jun 1985, Posted by Scott An Chora in Travelogue, No Comments.

06/25 Northern Europe


At first light, Jim took advantage of getting up first and had wandered off to the water closet to do his business.  In his absence, our late night compartment addition opened up mood tapes, the kind of stuff like mountain brooks and ocean waves.  When Jim returned and opened up the compartment door, he first thought he was in the wrong place but his expression of doubt left once he noticed me sitting over in the corner.  The mood tapes were nice, I could live with them.  But they were only a prelude.  Eventually our American friend began trying to lead a conversation and it was obvious by the way he danced between political and religion subjects that he had an agenda.  Whenever lulls appeared in the conversation, he’d ask the questions and then answer them.  It was like he was talking to himself.  While I enjoy talking on these types of subjects, anything leading to a debate or argument needs to be staged later in the day to get me involved.  But we were a captive audience.  The idea of interjecting something ran across my head.  I naturally take the opposite perspective to survey the landscape in an attempt to discover if an individual is just repeating an idea out of context or if they have a formulated an opinion of their own.  Then he began explaining why he decided to become a vegetarian.  He stated that anybody who wasn’t a vegetarian was unhealthy.  Okay I’m in.  I stated I was meatatarian and disagreed with his theory.  I questioned if he thought that God had made mistakes in natures design.  “No”, he replied, “God’s design is perfect.  It is man and his desires that are imperfect”.  “So do you think eating meat is a desire”? I asked.  “Yes, an impure desire” he responded.  “Is it true that the design of man is that of a predator: our teeth, digestive system, even the position of our eyes are those of a predator? This would lead one to believe that God’s intention was for us to be carnivores, having nothing to do with desire.  Maybe your reference to this impure desire in man is questioning God.” When I paused, Solsberg laughed uncontrollably.  She gave the impression that something might have loosened.

When we rolled into Copenhagen, our American addition suggested that if we wanted to take a shower, he had a friend with a flat just around the corner from the station and was sure he wouldn’t mine.  Jim took advantage first, while Solsberg and I went into the city in search for an exchange and a cup of coffee.  When we arrived at the flat’s door two large African men in native ceremonial dress greeted us.  “Me know travel, you eat, you eat” Dada number one said while Dada number two observed us.  We both ate a little just to get these two off our backs.  There were weird vibes hovering in the air.  I made jokes to Solsberg that they probably had cameras in the showers.  Out of kindness we agreed to return later in the day for a free yoga lesson, whatever.  The three of us wandered across town searching for an available hostel’ leaving our bags locked up in a train station locker.  Once we found ourselves a room we headed back to fetch our bags and drop in for our so called yoga lesson.  Individual yoga lessons behind closed doors had all the earmarking of strange, so everything I looked at was under a different light.  Jim and I waited patiently on the couch in the adjacent room.  Once Solsberg emerged, it was my turn.

Our American addition, now Yoga master instructed me to sit across from him duplicating a sukhasana position and began reciting some nonsense in a language I could not identify.  He then asked me to place my hand alongside a pentacle he had placed on the floor between us and asked me to repeat some words that I did not recognize.  My refusal and chuckles upset him.  “Is it a puppet’s dream to be human?” I whispered to myself while I stood up and let the blood run back into my legs.  He seemed quite angry at my refusal to participate and our little secession ended abruptly.  He led me back to the couch where Jim was fidgeting.  I gave Jim a look and watched him vanish behind the same closed door.  I expected Jim to also hit the turnstile after a few minutes.  He was in there for quite some time and I began assuming he had passed his indoctrination, maybe got a tattoo or something.  I got bored waiting and began doodling on a napkin and left those thoughts behind for a future inspection.

The wind blows where it will, you hear the sound of it but you do not know where it comes from, or where it’s going. If one blind man leads another, don’t they both fall into the ditch?”

I felt as if I was like the wind.  Not knowing from where I have come or where I am to go.  So in this curiosity I enjoy discussing life, gasping at reasons, studying rituals and love hearing the perceptive of others on this same journey.  But this experience was insulting.  I felt dirty, defiled, or that I had contracted some type of virus.  I know that’s a bad way to look at these situations and perhaps there was more to learn there through contrast and through agreement but I couldn’t help the way I felt.  I suppose I could have honestly applied the same view to the rituals engrained in my youth.  These ideas lingered in my mind and while I waited for Jim I began sketching notes.

I once donated time on a suicide hotline back when I was in High School.  One the other end of the phone I heard a cry of desperation.  I interjected an image of a candle flickering from the middle of the room and asked my desperate friend to imagine standing at its edge with his back turned to the flame.  I had him focus his attention not on the candle but the shadows that were cast – large fearful shadows.  I tried to get him to visualize that where he was standing in real life in relationship to his real fears was not much different that in this fictional room.  My goal was to get him to turn around and face the candle and to realize that the shadows he saw did not represent the actual size of the objects he feared, thus putting his issues in a better perspective to be dealt with.

When we were leaving our host had given the others his personal address and a phone number, where he could be reached and ignored me completely.  I was curious to the path the others had taken but saw no value in knowing and therefore never discussed it.  I don’t claim to know very much and sometimes can hardly tell the difference between good and evil, right and left.  But I do believe that in order to truly believe in anything, one needs to start by questioning.  I think we are neglecting God’s intentions if we just accept without knowing the justification of why we choose.  I believe my spirit and my flesh are at war for my appetite and this is the way it is intended to be.

In the beginning, there was the light, all bright, until we turned away to see, until we came to be, one with the shadow
We came to see the show, to see what we could find and watched the shadows dance, on the walls inside our mind.
Captivated by its rhythm, I followed like a child, chasing each and every shadow, with passion almost wild.
We danced around the fire, in celebration of the moment, as the darkness gathered round us, I was alone
Loud unnerving noises, downcast unsmiling faces, like dreams I long destroyed, yet, still remember these places
For I have been exposed and have been put to shame, for reluctance, proves a cowardly thin.
I could not confront the light, could do nothing but decline, these dark corners offered me no refuge,
from the sounds inside my mind
Standing alone on the edge, the ledge of the abyss, an uninstructed soul astray, I prayed, cowardice
Like an unexpected breeze, a whisper, how everything was going to be alright,
like a hand upon my shoulder, like a loving embrace,
turning me to see the light and there, in the middle of the space,
stood only a small candle burning bright.
All these insignificant things that I have judged,
that had passed between, casted shadows much larger,
but now I’ve seen

They were only shadows, only fears,
but now I see as children see.
through acceptance, through embrace,
I found that place, where I am free,

I am not alone

We spent the rest of that day alongside a beautiful lake, gazing up through the trees, watching the cotton clouds float leisurely by and following their reflections in the water.  Occasionally a white swan would swim up to us seeking food.  As the sun began to go down, we wandered back towards the hostel.  It would be an early night.  We were all very tired.  Jim and I took advantage of an available Ping-Pong table adjacent to the lobby.  Solsberg sat alongside watching us play for about thirty minutes until one of her bands broke.  She started laughing uncontrollably again and it was evident she needed sleep, really needed sleep.  Based on what we managed to talk out of her, plus the last couple of days in her company, I would say she hadn’t slept a wink in quite some time.

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    Usually behind a cup of coffee waiting for the world around me to wake up I entered today’s thoughts about yesterday’s activities into my travel journal. I’m not a writer, so I’ll apologize in advance if I jump around or seem confused. These are just the thoughts of a young man who left his possessions behind and who believes that getting lost is how one finds oneself.

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