I Grew Up In Narnia


I cannot believe it’s been one year since I was in Paris.  Actually a couple weeks over a year, but I remember being in Paris last Halloween.  It wasn’t a big deal then to the Parisiens, and it wasn’t a big deal to the Milanesi the year before when I was living in Italy during Halloween.  This is the first year since 2006 that I have been Stateside for this day.

I began to think about that.  I have felt at a loss for not traveling this year at all.  I was all over the globe for two years, and suddenly I’m fastened down here like I had been forced into a marriage and had a 30-year mortgage shoved down my throat.  I have wanted to travel so much, and only since a month ago have I had the excitement to know I’m going to visit Switzerland and Germany soon enough.  As you know since I can’t quit speaking about it.  lol

I know I have been saving, and that is a good reason to still be in NYC, but for those of you who have traveled and loved it, you know the withdrawal feelings.  I’m like an alcoholic with whiskey still coursing through my veins and having no luck in AA.  I can’t quit thinking about it.  All the places I want to visit, experiences I wish to digest, sights to comb through, smells to inhale by the gallon. . . I need to travel, and I’m not sure why I’m addicted.

I caress the frosted window next to me where I sit curled up on a train that glides across a soft snowfall over the Italian countryside.  My eyes drift lazily over powdered fields and white-dusted olive trees.  The rose streaks of a crisp winter sun that warm their ways through the glass and warm my skin.

Cool, cadet blue waters on the coast of Spain lap against the Catalan shores.  The carefree bodies of locals and those on summer pilgrimage sizzle on beds of hot, bronze sand.  Breezes yawn across the shores and rustle to life multicolored umbrellas and expansive beach blankets.  Naked bodies spread out on the secret patch of beach and absorb even more from the sun, private areas relieved of their tan lines.  And salt, the subtle tang of salt lilts through the air and dances the flamenco with the cavorting trumpets and plucky pianos and snappy snares.

Do you hear the soughing of Parisian accordions?  Do you smell the fresh grains of baguette just pulled from a hot oven?  Do you taste the cool, brisk morning as it opens up across your face where you stand atop l’Arc de Triomphe?  Do you taste the city?  Can you see the monumental buildings locked together around a glass pyramid?  Can you see the frame of the main tower where it needles into the graying sky?  Or the domes and spires of a lone church on the hill to the north of the city?

I could unfold scene after image after shot after photo of the places I have been, but I just want to open my brain into a massive space net, the type that captures solar rays, and just capture the world in images, absorb them into my mind.  I want to see the ice mountains and floes of Iceland; the pine wilderness of Alaska and the rivers that roll through fields of waist-high grass; the steep fjords of Norway and the fingers of navy blue water that flow in from the northern seas; the southern ports of Spain where heated winds billow in from the Straits of Gibralter where the Mediterranean Sea kisses the Atlantic Ocean; the capes of South Africa where the curvature of the Earth can be see from a hill.

I read recently C.S. Lewis discuss his idea of what joy is.  Now, Lewis is one of my favorite authors.  I grew up in Narnia.  But I realized I really agree with his definition.  In Surprised by Joy, he said, “The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting.”  I read that then, and I could only agree.  It reminded me of the first time I went to Italy.  That anticipation of going brought so much joy to me.  The weeks leading up to my flight out grew in intensity for me.  I floated on more and more air, walked on clouds, and any other number of euphoric cliches one might care to hurl into this parlance.  As time drew nearer, I began to count in days.  And the joy intensified.  Then it turned into hours as I looked at my luggage.  Finally, the drive to JFK morphed me into a bomb of elation.  But once I landed in Milan, I realized something.

I was there.  I reached the goal.

I still was so happy to be there, but my joy had shifted to just that: happiness.

After that, I realized that I experienced joy in those moments of anticipation, in those moments where my distinction was muddled between having a life in Italy and wanting it.  Does that make sense?  No?  I find it a trick to explain.  It might be best to explain it through the notion that having and wanting something are often confused in our minds.  Sometimes people want something so much, they envision having it before they do.  Sometimes people credit themselves with having something in advance under the near-certain assumption that they will receive it.  Many other “sometimes”‘s occur as well, but for this experience for me, it was the first.  I imagined living in Italy before I got there, and that imagination grew.  My joy intensified due to that.  My distinction was muddled.

I thought about the muddling of distinction more, and I began to wonder if a person can exist in that muddling.  I don’t mean in the sense of lunacy, because the definition he proffered doesn’t hold to lunacy, but we are humans.  We are never satisfied.  That means to me that there is always something we want, and we will always have something.  Something being a noun, and a noun being a person, place, thing, or idea for those of us who recall fourth-grade English class.

So I put forth that if one practices enough, one can live in the muddled distinction as if it were a constant high.  Now that makes me wonder what long-term effects might be: numbness to many other emotions? disconnection from normal social interaction? extreme case of level-headedness due to not coming down from that high of soaring above all problems?

Maybe this is a crazy conversation with myself here.  Maybe this whole idea is only clear in my mind.  Maybe some things I just can’t correctly explain.

Maybe someone will be on the same page.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

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~ by Matt Lawrence on October 30, 2009.

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