Sonder 1

I keep stumbling on things that take my mind elsewhere, back to a certain someplace out on the playa. To me this describes one of those feelings I experienced but fell utterly short on articulating. The concept itself is poignant, humbling, and thought provoking, so at least I have a name for it now…

sonder noun
The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

I Believe In Paradise

BELIEVE

Found this quote the other day and it totally brought me back to something else I posted recently.

And me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and if you find that moment… it lasts forever…
— Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio) in “The Beach”

I’m still having trouble adjusting after experiencing my moment, and with every photo and retold story I keep going back.

So is your paradise a place or a moment?

The Futility of Writing About the Last Two Weeks 8

Aaaaaand we’re back.

Sunset Over the Playa

It took a few days for the dust to settle (literally) and for me to attempt to coalesce my thoughts into something, anything, that might be cohesive enough to communicate what we’ve been through. I’ve wasted dozens of Post-its writing fragmentary scribbles, spent hours reviewing photos, and more time staring blankly at this post than I care to admit. The only thing that I keep coming back to over and over is how futile this whole exercise is; how extraordinarily pointless it is to even attempt to put anything into words. It was motivational. It was inspirational. It was mind blowing and eye opening. It was also intensely personal, and I don’t feel I would do any bit of justice trying to describe specific experiences. I’ve always been told a picture is worth a thousand words, but what happens when words fail to properly convey a moment frozen in time?

I’ve never felt more miniscule and overwhelmed in my life than that first night under the Man, and the weight of emotion in the Temple was oppressively palpable. The intensity of it all came crashing down on me at once like a tidal wave rolling over a picturesque seaside village. But then something happened from within that maelstrom just as it threatened to engulf me, and I found I had simply opened myself to it all. I let go. I let go of waiting for things to happen, of being jealous of the experiences of others, of missing out on things, and of forcing things to happen. And that’s the beauty of it all! It’s in that moment you discover that this, life, everything, is a Choose Your Own Adventure book filled with limitless possibilities per page. The only thing that matters is that you participate.

How do you explain the unexplainable, those seemingly unconnected but perfect coincidences? You can’t. I’ve never been one for Churchy spiritualism, but I know Einstein once famously said God doesn’t play dice with the world, and I’ve been fascinated with the dualities of chaos and higher power ever since. There were times out on the playa when I found myself trying to fathom if what was happening was simply the sum total of subatomic particle interactions through space and time or the amalgamation of existence directed by an unseen hand. I recognize now I can and will never know the true answer, I can only accept it as absolute synchronicity.

Thinking back to the moment it registered with me that we were actually leaving, the last words of Roy Batty’s monologue in Bladerunner sprang to mind:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe… [laughs] Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears… in rain…

Once I left, there was no longer an opportunity to share, as all of it would be out of context and just not make sense. With it all gone now I realize that the memories I have are not really what’s important, they are merely data sets along for the ride of this humble Homo sapiens. What’s important is how these memories shape my interaction with the world around me. The specifics may be lost when I expire and am forgotten, but what I do with them will live on forever.

So in the end I can only throw up my arms in defeat. The desert was hot, San Francisco is an amazing city I want to live in, my friends are awesome, I love my wife, and the experience as a whole has affected me much more profoundly than I ever thought possible.

I can’t wait to go back…