The city, which has lots of things in it

by measuringcoastlines
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I’ve been back in Vancouver for one week now. It’s been a strange readjustment. At one level, everything is more or less the way I left it. It was only a month, after all. At another level, everything is reorganized and intense. It’s not like coming “home” and really couldn’t have been; I’m still settling in at Matthew’s but leaving in another week and a bit. Work suddenly got super busy, and I had appointments and errands and wanted to see friends, and that whole sense of time and spaciousness that I had at the Krishnamurti Centre seemed to go right out the window.

It feels unnatural to just pick up and go for a walk here when I’m working on the computer. At the KECC, I stepped outside and I was in trees. Here, I step outside and I’m public. I’m looking at people, they’re looking at me. I feel I’m supposed to have a purpose if I’m walking outside. Go to the corner store or a park or something. It takes a conscious choice to just wander and explore. And it’s more automatic to stay sitting, stay at the computer again.

There’s more… stuff… everywhere. Inside – decorations, storage bins, newspapers, remote controls, bags of things I need to put away, dishes that should be rinsed. Outside – telephone poles, lots of cars, sandwich boards, parking meters, construction equipment, pylons, benches. None of these things are offensive, but there’s just more to take up my visual attention. It adds up in little subtle ways. The brain trying to take everything in; there’s more to take in, and less time to do it.

I’m trying to keep up the somatic work, but it varies wildly from day to day. I find myself going to bed later, so then I don’t have the relaxed hours in the morning for meditation before I have to get into work.

But there’s still some sort of underlying stillness that remains. I’ve had some overwhelming moments come up, but handled them differently than I would have before. I took a walk at night on city streets and did feel some of that sense of space and awe that was available to me at the KECC. It’s not lost, it’s just covered up under a pile of mental laundry.

There’s fewer birds here, and mostly just the usual main city species. But I leapt for joy when I heard a hummingbird song – which I wouldn’t have recognized before my time on the Island – and then thrilled to see one tasting some flowers the next day. And a family of rough-and-tumble raccoons ambled by me in East Van, so okay, at least I’ve seen some wild mammals lately.

And I’m being conscious about appreciating some of the aspects of Western living that I know I’m going to miss for much of my travels. Being able to drink water straight from the tap. Enjoying a shower, any temperature I want it to be, where I don’t have to keep my mouth tightly shut to avoid any water getting in. Lying on a nice carpeted floor. The luxury of a portapotty.

Still no change with the volcano situation on Bali. Apparently the seismic activity hasn’t lessened at all, but other volcanoes in the region have been at the highest alert levels for months or years before the actual eruption happened. “Imminent” in geological terms doesn’t really help us much. My trip cancellation/interruption insurance is pretty much useless until the actual day of the flight, so there’s no getting a refund if you take preventative action in advance. Going to have to decide within two days whether we stay the course, or cough up the change fees and head to Thailand instead….

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