As we made our way from Ecuador to Argentina by way of the Chilean capital, I thought about the round of experiences awaiting us at the next stop.
Reading Newsweek in a cramped airplane seat, I felt gratitude for the opportunity to travel 5,000 miles from home.
The article that induced this feeling was about the Chinese obsession with the video game “Happy Farmer.” The Chinese apparently love being able to manage a farm with the click of a mouse. (As a child, I played the game, but it was known as “Farmville.”) The obsession has spurred some Chinese to purchase their own small garden plots.
Newsweek quoted one man saying, “It’s a way to experience life.”
“Hmm,” I thought, “Isn’t everything we do or don’t do an experience of life?”
If your thumb is green or if your thumb is mainly used to hit the space bar, they are all moments that add into a sum known as life.
The article made me think of Rita Golden Gelman, the author of “Tales of a Female Nomad.” The 50-something gave up a pampered life, which included attending Hollywood parties, for a life on the road, visiting the Galapagos Islands, Israel, Bali, etc.
Her experiences, I believe, add up to a more enriching life. In the following quote, Golden Gelman is partaking in a ritual in the forests of Borneo.
“All day I’ve been sipping Tuak [a liquor made from palm trees] from a communal cup, sharing saliva and tipsy smiles and moving my body to the beat of the drums. But now, as I take the [human] skull in my two hands, I am shaking. It is as though I am drinking the brains of a human, sipping his spirit, gaining his power. I am nearly in a trance, moving, sipping, feeling my lips on the smooth bone, dipping my tounge into another person’s fluids, absorbing his soul.”
In the end, however, it all depends on where your joy comes from. Joy could come from looking into a microscope or catching a night bus to the Ecuadorian coast. The point is: We need to go our own way.
Golden Gelman was reminded of that principle when she sought spiritual enlightenment from a Bali prince.
“A person will be bewildered if he goes on another’s road,” he said. “Rich or poor, you must seek happiness in your own world. We can all reach for the same happiness, but you must go in your own world, and I must go in mine. That is life. Three times three isn’t always nine. Sometimes it is four.”
[Note: I’m now writing from Argentina, where the laptop battery zapped one of our universal outlet adapters and where there is no Internet connection on our farm. Therefore, future posts might be less frequent.]