“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. “
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Often, when we need it most, we stumble upon quotes, pictures or the proverbial message in a bottle.
It’s as if we are blindly sketching a masterpiece and we know it’s perfect but we cant see it… Then all of a sudden it materializes and presents itself, like a banner proclaiming the sincerity of our inner most musings. Confirmation.
“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” – Sir Isaac Newton
Our every thought, word and action has a ripple effect. Like dropping a stone into a pond.
It was a grey day, I felt it. It was me. I packed my bag and set off into it. The heavy, low laying clouds and I warily exchanging glances, me with the request for a dry journey to the bus stop and them replying with gentle but meaningful puffs of wind at my back that suggested this might or might not be possible…
Each step grew firmer and my stride lengthened with purpose as I reached the road side, untouched.
La Chaquena came grinding up soon after and I gratefully mumbled “Hasta Asuncion” to the smiling captain. There is something uniquely soothing about riding the bus. It’s like an old,dependable and slightly eccentric friend you can depend on to get you safely to your destination albeit the journey is slightly bumpy and with many a stop.
I was thus in a bit of a daze due to my eccentric carrier friends slow, rolling nature and so just bused on past my original intended stop as if I wasn’t even aboard! I looked around to see if any of my fellow riders had noticed my error but of course they were paying attention to where they were going and as far as they knew, so was I.
This woke me up. I realized that I did not know how to get to my final destination. And also became aware that I had known this at the back of my mind all along. My solution now was to sit ram-rod straight and search the unfamiliar sights passing by for any kind of recognizable word, sign, object, face, dog or other to assist me in placing my undeniably lost self. You might ask “why did you not get off at the next stop?” Well. Firstly I could barely move in the seat that I was in due to my sprawled out and sleeping seat-mate and secondly I couldn’t even see the exit doors because of the press of Paraguayan humanity currently occupying every orifice the bus contained. Thirdly, and this is the clincher, I had a feeling (small but insistent) that I should ride this out and if I got into a really tough spot I could call Martin,explain my self and organize a collection situation.
So off I went. My feeling becoming slightly justified by a significant emptying of bus space and lo and behold a recognizable landmark went sliding past the window. The golf course. Hooray. I must at this point make an observation. Paraguayan bus drivers are absolute gentlemen and follow a kindly code of road etiquette while on the main stretch outside the city. This changes in the blink of an eye when entering the hustle and bustle of the inner limits. They seem to drive faster and take corners on one set of wheels (yes it’s possible). I won’t forget one of these occasions when we were almost horizontal with the road and a pedestrian and I came face to face for a split second and how nonplussed he was as I went looming by, face pressed against the glass.
OK! Back to my demise. Or rather, things were looking up, I spotted an overhead road sign which informed me I was heading towards the center of the city. Good. I think. At about this time I got a call from Martin inquiring upon my plan and destination…. I said rather more confidently than I felt that my plan was to walk and explore the city streets for a while and then find my way to his house. At this point a familiar road sign came into view and I decided this was my stop. Downtown Asuncion. I knew this because the road was sloping “downhill”. So, I shouldered my backpack and began my street excursion. Trusting my instincts and being very aware of my surroundings.
The architecture is beautiful. Close spaced buildings with old colonial eaves and designs on every second house. There is also a constant lively chatter and camaraderie which gives one a great feel for the ambiance and the flavor of the place. It certainly is a city which reveals its beauty when you take the time to explore.
So between my own divination’s and an assurance from Martin that I’m on the right track, I was now comfortable to walk briskly up Mariscal Lopez Avenue, look for a cafe to cool my heels and grab a well deserved beer. This was the easiest part of my adventure and soon I was sitting happily outside a side street cafe with an ice cold miller and a slice of what I can only say was a pizza wrapped in pastry. Smiling. The kind lady brought me an ashtray, I gave another fellow a light and a yellow butterfly danced its way through my ensuing reverie.
It is good to be comfortable on your own. I love it. Quiet. Makes you more aware of what’s around you as well as whats inside of you. Gotta treasure that space.
I paid, and asked which bus goes to the Municipalidad of Asuncion. The closest known building to Martins house and my sanctuary. As I hit the main road again my good old friend the bus came trundling towards me. I sat down gladly and waited for the building I was destined for. When I got off I walked about three blocks and knowing the house was only another two blocks away felt good. I heard a hooter at my back and upon turning around recognized Martins jeep bearing down and pulling over. Perfect timing is an understatement.
Altogether a successful, interesting and enlightening morning. Yes, that all happened from half past seven to one o clock! Ha ha 🙂 The rest of the afternoon was comprised of having a great catch up chat with the ever excitable and inspiring Senor Burt, some good food and some good old English premier league football all topped off with a Jack Kerouac novel and a late siesta.I give thanks-to the good people in my life,for trusting myself and navigating safely through an unfamiliar city.
Knowing and doing is the intended theme of this post and I wish to clarify that: We know a lot. What is good for us, what we should be doing etc. This means absolutely nothing if we don’t DO it. Thinking about it and knowing it is the “easy” part. The hardest part is to get out of your comfort zone and do it. Whatever it is. Life is so full of challenges and always will be but the more we face them and realize that its all lessons and experiences for our benefit, the less these challenges are going to seem hard and we will instead look forward to their arrival in our reality with eager anticipation at what life, the universe, god and destiny deems is necessary for us to learn, to be prepared for the next step on our monumental and beautiful life journey .
Remember when I started off in the morning and it was a grey day?
The sun was now shining brightly and the skies were cloud free and azure blue.