the farther away from home i travel, the less i understand what that concept means. home to me is more a state of mind than a concept. it is fluid. it changes with the tide.
this weekend i escaped. i had to get away.
i scootered out to the country. down south, through kaohsiung. then east. inland.
foguangshan. the biggest buddhist temple in all of taiwan. a 50m gold buddha. the largest drum & bell on the island. this is the temple the world looks to for examples. i meditated for an hour with monks in the buddhist meditation room. i thought i was alone until i looked up & saw one lone monk hidden in the shadows of the corner. he nodded & smiled. i blushed, ashamed. sometimes i feel so fake in this country. i try to embrace the culture, but i feel so counterfeit.
one floor up, siddhartha/s bones rest. he was incinerated upon his death, or so the story goes. but four of his teeth remained after his flesh was turned to ash. foguangshan guards one of these teeth. i entered, humbled. the room is locked. i met a monk. a woman. no english. but she asked me if i knew buddhism, and showed me how to pray. she unlocked the door & let me in.
i knelt before his remains & prayed. we bowed in turn. she stepped back, aware of the significance of the moment. i couldn/t stop the tears. they seemed so natural. so pure. so real.
when i left, she handed me a book of buddhist prayers. i cried once more. she invited me to stay the night in the temple. it was too much to handle. i thanked her for her hospitality, but was weary of outstaying my welcome. i watched a lightening storm brew behind the golden buddha. watched the energy materialize behind his stony gaze. in awe. unable to speak.
the countryside changed as i headed further inland, towards the mountains. maolin nature preserve. mountains. jungle. rivers. forest of a kind i have never before seen. i spent saturday night in the house of a stranger, on the top of the world. dona. dona, taiwan. a village of perhaps 200. on a mountaintop. near natural hotsprings.
i found a river sunday morning & i played. after a long hike by myself. call it a morning walk. i saw the largest snake i have ever seen. a red-winged hawk. butterflies. more plentiful & beautiful than i have ever seen. after my descent i played in a cool, clear river, and i knew everything would be okay. i stumbled upon a family eating lunch by a waterfall. they beckoned. i came. they fed me. i swam in a crystal clear pond with their son. brightly coloured fish & butterflies surrounding us. i played under a waterfall this weekend. & i knew everything would be okay.
i drove along the river north. past mountains that jut like dinosaurs out of a dusty sea. they say the spirits of turtle gods inhabit these mountains. the japanese dug tunnels through them to help with the transportation of lumber. i blazed through them. conscious of the damp coolness, the drop in temperature so deep within the earth. bats. mud. the smell of earth.
i drove through mooncrater world. the most bizarre natural phenomena i have ever seen. i still can/t really explain or describe it. it was...exactly how it sounds. suddenly and abruptly the landscape changed. from rice patties & tobacco fields to what appeared to be craters on the moon. oddly shaped mountainous structures. hills & valleys. dried up creek beds. little life. lightening.
approaching tainan, the sky opened up. sheets, torrents, rivers of rain fell from the heavens. this happens almost on a daily basis now. we are preparing for a series of typhoons. it is typhoon season, after all.
a typhoon is set to hit the east coast tomorrow. ilan. up north. while ilan is northeast and we are southwest, we still must be weary. taiwan is quite small. we will not escape the repurcussions. typhoons can be dangerous. as of now, the storm that will hit tomorrow is not too huge, but it is growing. there is a second typhoon approaching, as well. approximate arrival time: friday.
and yet i remained unphased. i am aware of the dangers. but taiwan seems home to me now. typhoons are common. blazing sun one second, torrential downpours the next. this is a typical summer day here. i will most likely still teach. life will most likely go on as normal, just with a little more rain & a lot less heat. when it/s put that way, a typhoon seems almost welcome.
i watched a lightening storm on the beach last night. we brought plastic lawn chairs down onto the sand & watched the storm brew far out across the ocean. captivating. the energy was almost too much to take in all at once.
sometimes i feel this life is passing by too quickly. i find myself in places & am almost unsure of how i got there. brief moments of lucidity within a dream. but this is my dream. and i am living it. last night i watched a lightening storm across the pacific. next month perhaps across the atlantic. i am a wanderer. a weary lone traveler. i carry my home with me on my back. but i wouldn/t have it any other way.
a few words about miss chelsea elizabeth...
oregon-born, seattle-raised, bellingham-bred and franco-refined, she had moved back to the states from her affairs across the atlantic & now resides in columbia city with french husband & love of her life rémy. they spend most of their time taming the garden, taking care of their three chickens & two cats, and preparing the urban homestead for a new little chick of their own.
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