Saturday, 21 February 2009

Familiar numbness

The key reason why we come to the Baja in the winter, as for many people, is the combination of exceptional weather and bounteous seaside. Yes, there are other elements of life in Baja, and Todos Santos in particular, that add flavour to the mix, but it is the idyllic climate and location first and foremost. It is what many people describe as “paradise”.

I almost feel traitorous, therefore, when, about this time in the season, I explain to people back in the land of ice and snow that it is all becoming a bit “blah”. Yes, it is sunny – again. And I can wear shorts all day, without fear of losing appendages. And the garden is bursting with a cacophony of colour. And the whales are cruising around near shore and waving their flukes – as usual. Yawn!

Maybe I have the affliction more than most, but repeated exposure to any experience, no matter how wonderful, breeds a blinding familiarity. It is only when it is a jolt from normal life, or afterwards, when it is gone, that perhaps we truly appreciate what we experience. There are flashes or even longer stretches where the numbing veil is lifted, and I see what is before my eyes without a filter. But before long, the familiar images lull me back to sleep. The magical golden elements, in reverse alchemy, become the new leaden norm.

It is not Baja that causes such reactions. Back in Comox, we have a breathtaking and “in your face” view across the full spectrum blue Georgia Straights to the snow-capped green coastal mountains of BC. When we first arrived, we spent hours just sitting in the living room and watching with amazement. We committed to each other that we should never take this view for granted. And yet, just a few months later, we would catch ourselves carrying on our lives and almost forgetting about what was right in front of our eyes.

Is familiarity-bred numbness inevitable and irreversible? Some have suggested to me that it is our predestined fate but, by understanding this and keeping expectations low, life still remains enjoyable. Others would suggest that the blindness can be overcome. One school proposes living in the moment to connect us to what is really happening, and thus strip the familiarity fog from our eyes and other senses. But few (myself included) can do that for more than short periods of time before falling back into “normal” existence. Living a comparative life, an approach taken by some, where one is thankful for what we have because it is so much better than what others appear to endure, seems to me to be an artifice of rationalisation.

For now, I will just be thankful for those brief periods where the magic takes hold, and, however transiently, lets me experience life clearly.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful description of the dilemma that most of us face...the implicit wish and expectation that the 'outside' world should relieve us of the monotony of our inner unfulfilled life.

The outer world is only the backdrop that mirrors the reality we create for ourselves. Reliance on that mirror to fulfil us brings constant disillusionment. I know I have run around the planet chasing the ephemeral mistaking it for the much needed anchor of security.

Your previous piece is a reflection of true beauty painted with exquisite word brushstrokes. In your final paragraph you have the answer
"resonates with the sounds within me;the sounds that you can hear inside if you are quiet and listen very carefully. The sound, perhaps, of life itself, and the energy within and around us"

That quiet moment contains every beautiful inner sunrise and sunset imaginable and the only security I now require. Thank you for describing it so well

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