Saturday, May 17, 2008


For years I had been near it, but that boundary between us had never been crossed. At the end of the small street where my grandmother lived, from the time when the house itself was built when I was only 4 years old, there had been a small hotel, the "Novo". I came to visit my grandmother many times, week after week, month after month and year after year. Eventually, I lived there for a couple of years. I walked back and forth from the gates to the main street and back, and the sign "Novo" was always on the periphery of my vision without fully catching my attention. I knew there was a hotel there and that small bit of simple information was all that was necessary for me. My reality tunnel was clearly etched in the sidewalk, through my grandmother’s black gate and to her big house at the top of the long cement driveway. And the hotel was very distinctly outside of that tunnel.
A few years ago, when I was back in El Salvador with my companion on the path and the world had taken on a strange dream-like quality that we could both clearly perceive like a translucent liquid all around us, I walked into the hotel. This hidden chamber was very different from the one that I had imagined. First and foremost, it was full of detail where my imagination had been only a faint outline without depth or mood. There were walls of red brick, little lawns in the middle of short pathways, a small swimming pool and a bar next to it with European reporters drinking beer and sharing stories, laughing and arguing late into the night. In their interaction amongst themselves and with the waitresses that brought them their drinks and food, I could sense a history, not only made of individuals but of adventure, connections between worlds and life changing discoveries. Upon experiencing this rush of new information, which removed inside of me many years of false assumptions and simplified imagination, I felt the kernel of a greater truth. Here was this place, complex and open and mysterious and full of color, and it had been sitting next to me for decades, it had existed falsely in my mind as a simulacrum, a mental place holder that separated me from what was Real and right there, only a few steps away.
Today I look around me and I can faintly perceive the many narrow reality tunnels that surround us. Faced with an infinity of choices, our machine has responded with limitation, extreme and uncontrolled. The reality tunnels that surround us, our habitual sequences of motion and attention, our steps that have settled into a steady rhythm and refuse to change, these can seem insurmountable, like giant black walls that prevent our escape. Faced with a city full of wonder, my machine will walk in the same directions, turn on the same streets, look at the same places, point out the same sights, park in the same streets. Faced with a land full of life, my machine will reach for the same fruits, stop at the same places, rest on the same benches, stand underneath the same tree, look at the same two rocks, the same that I saw before, the same that I will see many years from now.
How truly difficult is it to move away from these predetermined steps? Would it take only a momentary decision to allow me to step away from life as I knew it and onto a completely unexplored path? What would be the price? How much will the unknown charge for admission into its dark caverns?
When the machine finds itself awake, momentarily devoid of these habits, it may be unable to decide what to do, it may find itself frozen by the new and vast universe of possibilities that suddenly opens before its eyes. If no new conscious habits have been developed, the machine may then return to the habits it knows well and, in the process, fall into a deep sleep again. Each moment of freedom then becomes a golden opportunity to push a step further into the vast unexplored territory of the infinite Labyrinth.
Even in the midst of deep machine sleep, where there may appear to be no hope of flight and our tenuous attention fades away like a dying ember, may we find a way to strive to step away from the Paths of Death that are made of stone and dust and, through our sincere and persistent efforts, create new paths that flow freely on ever changing waves of Light.

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