What We Need To Find16 May 2004, Posted by Writings in
When I finished my Masters degree in philosophy, I decided to fulfill another great dream of mine: Traveling throughout Europe, without a plan or a tour package. I traveled for almost four months straight, alone. From the bustling cafés in Saint-Germain; the astonishing Sagrada Familia in Barcelona; the arabesque Alhambra castle in Granada; the scenic coast of southern France; the imposing castle of Salzburg; the spectacular carnival in Venice; to the towering yet elegant David of Michelangelo in Florence, I did not take a single photograph. For once in my life I decided that being a traveler, instead of tourist, is to live your journeys inside the frame, not behind it.
In my closet on the top shelf I have a small bag of items. A cd from a cellist who haunted the Gothic quarter of Barcelona with his music and a card from the restaurant where a young Picasso drew the menus; an envelope from Cavendish’s old residence in Cannes (turned into a hotel); a card with the details of a new friend from Jerez de la Frontera; a dreamshare that consists of a unique alloy called Aenors created by a Dutch artist, Albertus Van Wyk, I met in a train to Italy; a map of Florence and other paraphernalia. If someone else finds the bag, he might guess someone has been traveling; likes a particular cellist; has been to Els Quatre Gats in Barcelona; met someone in Jerez; stayed in Cannes; is into original artistic stock exchange schemes and so on. But he won’t be able to reconstruct the inter-twinning stories behind them let alone the emotions, experiences and realizations that went with them. Take the items out of the bag. Disperse them into the wind. Now these things might as well belong to different persons living different, separate lives.
When I started ruminating on the idea of writing a book, I thought that perhaps constructing a reading list might be better, since after much reading of my own I thought that at least when it comes to perennial philosophical issues of interest to anyone with a pulse, or for those trying to get one, the most interesting things have already been said if not explicitly then implicitly, in more than one way, in a number of languages, from various times and places, by people young and old of both genders. What I didn’t immediately realize, is that these vast number of ideas and written experiences which I thought were enough to, if not completely solve, then at least give you the necessary education to deal successfully with life’s problems and its mysteries, were like those items in the bag on the top shelf in my closet. Without their intimate interconnections with the human beings that embody them, they were as disconnected from each other as those items dispersed in the wind. They did make sense, but all the inter-twinning stories that were inextricably linked with the emotions, experiences and realizations that give us a clearer vision of the truth and made us better persons were all lost between the lines.
Without the living, breathing, feeling, remembering, promising, touching, kissing, and last but certainly not least, loving human beings, the connections that give meaning to isolated things would be lost…and that is too much to lose and what we need to find.