Monday, December 13, 2010

The world is waiting...

I've been trying to schedule my trip, to think seriously about what it will mean to be really pretty much on the road with myself, my camera and my words for ten weeks or so. I realize how complacent I've become, how completely reliant on my puny pleasures and the comforts of modern living. While I yearn for the great outdoors, I secretly shake at the thought of losing my own bed, giving up the luxury, peace and calmness of my own private space, of being thrust out into the dirty, unruly, cacophonic mayhem of the world at large; to be amongst the great heaving masses with their strange smells, their utterly other personal space requirements and their strange customs and quirks. All my secret fears have been raising their increasingly ugly heads and shattering my illusion of myself as a free spirit. Ok, so I have fears. Everyone has fears, right? It doesn't mean I should cancel my trip or shorten it. I shouldn't give into the nasty spurs of dread as they try to imbed themselves in my expanding vision of my life. I read a great quote recently: 

" know there is a better story for your life and to choose something other is like choosing to die."  from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. 

It is like choosing to die, I'm at that point now where if this were a tarot reading skeletal death would be now facing me on his apocalyptic horse or the tower would be crashing down having been rent in half by a bolt from the heavens, as surely my old life must be, I hear it creaking now under the insupportable weight of it's own redundancy. But with this choice of death, along  with the inevitable fear is an inescapable excitement, a definite tingle in regions of myself that haven't tingled in quite a while. What will be? As well as the hideousness that can be lurking there is also the beauty and the wonder, the thrill of the ineffable, the spine-wringing whiff of the new that this breeze from the future wafts in through my open window. I will go.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where will it all end?

After a disastrous week for Ireland with the coming in of the IMF for 'negotiations' (read 'ultimatums') I'm feeling desperate and depressed about the future, as well as slightly guilty about the prospect of abandoning ship, but will not suffer through another '80s in Ireland. The current government plan will really hit the people of this country hard, while the banks and bondholders laugh all the way to the...well, bank. Watched Frontline last night and heard Philippe Legrain talk about other alternatives to this plan, like for instance the government could say we made a horrendous mistake in 2008 when we guaranteed bank debt, making any debt of the banks sovereign debt needing to be paid by the Irish people. They could just say no, we want the bondholders to accept some of the pain, separate out the bank debt from the country's real debt, which actually isn't that bad. He made some mention of another alternative which would be to turn the bonds into shares which would bring in a flood of money, I'm not sure I understand this exactly, so will read his book, Aftershock: Reshaping the World Economy After the Crisis. One thing for certain is the old boy's club politics is not going to work any more, we need new blood. Good to see two new 'parties' being represented on that programme also, one that interests me more is the United Left Alliance, which seems to have some great ideas, basically rip it all down and start again, get women into the Dail, don't pay off the banks, put money now into building jobs & the economy, taxing the wealthy, public ownership of the banks, coming out from under the ‘‘dictatorship of the financial markets’’. It's all shifting around at the moment, turning into a completely new soup...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Her gentle veils of rain

Girl on Luas in Connolly Station, Dublin 2009

The rain in Dublin has always made me yearn for other places. Not to say that this is not a beautiful place, it certainly is, with it's own depth of perfection. But it is also true to say that like Louis MacNeice, she is not my town, 

I was not born or bred
Nor schooled here and she will not
Have me alive or dead
But yet she holds my mind
With her seedy elegance,
With her gentle veils of rain
And all her ghosts that walk
And all that hide behind
Her Georgian facades -
The catcalls and the pain,
The glamour of her squalor,
The bravado of her talk.

Exerpt from Dublin made me by Louis MacNeice (1907-1963)

It started on Halloween

Me and the vampyre, Halloween 2010
I guess I first had the idea around Halloween. I knew I wanted to move back to San Francisco, but I was having trouble defining exactly when that would be. I realised I wanted to go back to this city that had previously been my home from a completely new direction. How many times have I flown east to west from Dublin to the west coast of California in my life? Many times. I knew that this time had to be different, that I wanted to take a different route, a slow meandering route through places I had always wanted to see. So I guess it was when I took that picture of me and the little vampyre, me wearing that venetian mask and she a ruby red wig. It was then I made the decision to go.

Off the path

Road to Lough Dan, Wicklow Mountains, Ireland.

Why such a trip to the east? I guess for a while now I've felt off my path, disoriented, lost. My path used to look so clear, so well defined, like the black path in the infrared photo I took earlier this year which was the path that leads to Lough Dan in the Wicklow mountains. I guess I'm looking to re 'orient' myself, literally, heading for the Orient, where I have never been before, where all the philosophies that have ever made any sense to me originate from, where I can hopefully get back on my path. In the book I'm reading by Jay Griffiths called 'Wild - an elemental journey' she talks about paths through the amazon jungle, and how getting off the path can be literally life threatening. As I read it I took it immediately as a metaphor for my lost orient:

'A path in the forest can seem so visible, so inevitable when you're walking along it, but once you've stepped off it, you know it for what it is: a fragile skein too thin to see unless you're looking right down on it. Once you are off the path, it does not seem inevitable. Rather it seems extraordinarily lucky and briefly precious. On the instant of stepping off the path a curtain of green confusion falls. A bare little patch of earth catches your sight. Is that the path? It goes nowhere. The path may be three feed away but be as invisible as if it were three miles away. What is completely revealed and what is completely hidden are so close, depending on the angles of sight just a few degrees different. (If you do get lost, stop. Mark your position, light a fire if you can. Move in circles around it, trying to find the path).'

I guess that's what this journey will be, moving in circles ever widening trying to find the path...

Start from Dublin

The Quays, Dublin, Ireland.

The old question applies here: where's the best place to start? From where you are. That happens to be Dublin right now. As I'm thinking about this journey the November winds have taken up outside my window, breathing heavily and insinuating into the calm darkness of an early winter afternoon. Insinuating into my mind with all the impending threat of an Irish November wind, a kiss from the god of storms and fury as he waits off the Atlantic coast. If last winter was anything to go by, this one will be devastating and insistent, laying down strands of unease in the fibres of our winter coats. The snow will come and stay. The dampness, the thing I dislike above all others about this climate (second only to the flat grey light of these northern skies) will set into our bones like an epitaph and we will sink into our collective dream of global warming. I will leave when it is at it's height, this winter, will run eastwards from it as if being pursued by some ancient animal from northern myth. Hopefully I will escape it's clutches, stay just ahead of it's leaden breath.

Thinking about a journey...

Angel - Piedmont Graveyard, Oakland, California.
I'm considering going back to live in San Francisco. But, instead of the usual western journey from Dublin to San Francisco over the Atlantic I am considering journeying eastwards via Dublin - Istanbul - Hyderabad - Kathmandu - Bangkok - Angkor Wat (Siem Reap) - Hanoi - Tokyo - Honolulu, HI - San Francisco, CA.