Dear diary, as some friends of mine would like to jest. And perhaps, it is.
But a long weekend in the capital of one of the statistically supported ‘happiest’ countries of the world, and I have returned not the same as I left. A sign of a trip worth taking. And though there are times when horrors and discomforts may just as powerfully make a ripple, this trip goes well into the positive category. Quite positive. As went the last international leap. And, as I hope goes the next. And after that, as well.
A positivity that invokes introspection. Something I have yet again managed to find the time for.
Grandest thing about westward movement in the twenty first century- it is as though you slow down time. Jumping time zones and evading the rising sun gives a little extra space to ponder upon one’s actions, words, etc, while one might have been in a distant land. Though to be fair, the physical toll of weariness can muddle and exhaust the mind’s words. And I, myself, wasn’t away quite long enough to adjust to the temporary time zone, so my nervous system’s clocks are a bit out of funk. Extra time still seemed to somehow to appear. A phenomenon perhaps undersold regarding wonder.
But in a neat little town they call Copenhagen, an apprentice to life I was bound. And with quite the lovely traveling companion, sporting open eyes, open heart and open mind- the land of the Danes done got explored. And despite the timing of year making it seem a little less bustling than its apex might be like, the city made quite the wonderful impression upon me. Clean. Friendly. Polite. All mixed up with a soothing pace of life.
I could see how a person might enjoy taking up residence in such a land.
Me? Nay. I don’t believe I could.
I love the stink of New Amsterdam and the harsh and bi-polar fury of Eastern North American seasons too much to ever stay too long elsewhere. That is not to say I am closed off. I hope to wander my way to all corners of the globe in this life of mine. I just feel the urge to have it based, and ultimately, wrap up somewhere around these parts. A rocking chair, perhaps. In a late summer afternoon.
I finished a Hemingway book today, so pardon me as I get away from the topic of brutally elegant and symbolically aesthetic demise.
For in my mind is not the thought of endings. Rather, the halls echo with thoughts on life and living. And even with some of my own unfamiliarity with a gusto once so present in my gut, I know that existence is for those existing. And any proper and profound existentialist must wade out in the muck of experience if they might ever have something useful to say.
Yet, to exist and live does not mean running around like a madman or woman. Not exclusively. At times, it is the opposite. A peaceful stillness, or the like. Something I witnessed with a few of the Danish folk.
The older gentleman, slowly eating some bread with cheese. Sunday morning. In the café. Sipping his coffee. Slowly. To make it all stretch long enough to get through the bulk of the newspaper.
Or the two young women, running a restaurant’s afternoon lunch rush without a worry, hiccup or complaint. Serving delicious food with courtesy and compassion, whilst laughing and humming and so on with each other. No fear of ‘looking professional’. As they look professional by enjoying what they do. And sharing what they do with both the dopey grown boy sitting at the counter and family of four alike.
Or the shop in the hippie-town (among many other types of shops) within the town that sells art by a person who lives there in that very metropolis. A singular artist surviving on a lovely shop filled with paintings, and a few postcards to boot. No endorsements, or advertisements or any such craziness.
These folks were great at being just as they were. Not a scheme or agenda beyond the purpose they clearly paint for the world to see. Sure, something easier done in a place of, if not prosperity, at least economic stability. But an appreciation for the finite and seemingly small matters can build a better attempt at the bigger ones.
To an extent.
Because to have the ability to slow down and appreciate the comforts and pleasures of life is far too easy when almost always being granted with the opportunity. Resiliency of spirit is not developed through ease. Rather, it grows when efforts are made in constant to improve, or at least combat the regression of existence.
Something I am reminded of upon returning home. Today, in particular, as I wandered my way through Midtown for the first time on foot in a very long time. In a mild kind of cold for what it had been that was still vastly harsher that what Denmark had going this past weekend.
Reminded, in part, because there is more disparity about. More homeless folks, for one. There are vastly more people in one city than the other, so naturally, you will seem more of each and every sort of person thing. And New York is often and unapologetically aggressive in its proving trials. Not to advocate for the hardship found upon my fellow humans, just an appreciation for what can become of that sentient sapien soul when pressure is applied and pressure is overcome.
But seeing the world, first hand, for all its goodness and tragedy is an integral part of the primary sort of studies on the human experiment. Meaning, what you see shapes you. And seeing and sharing something like that with another soul will shape both of you. And so on, and so on.
A discovery of self through the self, sure. Focused enough. But to gain depth, the self shan’t be the biggest sway around. At least not all the time. Find self in thy surroundings. And thyself in the people we meet and dare say, those we adore. To those disappointed. Those we feel obligated towards. Gazing into the eyes of. Etc.
And this is not a review of the Danish capital, though I do recommend. This is an exploration of random thoughts from one head, spread out now to others.
A train ride north in the cold, snowy haze of my home Gotham might have been the most exquisite resolution to the latest adventure. A place where I have spent many hours, staring out of windows, thinking of all that had been, and might be, and would never come to pass.
I could have called a cab. From the first train. I could have gotten something right from the airport to my home. I’m glad I got a locomotive ticket instead.
Not perfect. Never will be. But little by little, inch by inch, ramble by ramble, I find a deeper sense of person than was before.
There are more thoughts to be had here. Some already so.
And some of those are only for your narrator. And the memory shared by only those who were there with him.