Project and Travel Blog
Love, big topic. When I travel, part of my greatest enjoyment is in watching and talking to people. The worlds a fun and exciting place when you speak the language and even more mysterious when you don't. I speak neither French, except menu French, and no Japanese, not even menu. Sometimes, however, we can and do make sense out of foreign speech and understand others on some other deeper plane beyond speech. There are some good things about not understanding the language of those around you, some bad but by no means not all bad. When all around, you are reduced to looks, hand gestures, sounds, drawings on a napkin, all of a sudden the intricacies of another's speech are replaced by your own thoughts, guesses, listening to French or Japanese words that maybe, just maybe sound English. Certainly it is easier in French, a romance language, but no give away. These "familiar" sounding words in French, for instance, have verbally no connection, speech is reduce to an interesting candor where I can and do say anything I wish, nuance or otherwise, in a word blunt and no one understands. But that is not my goal, my goal is to be understood. The sound of another's voice becomes a bird cry, the sound of a groan at night, through the hotel walls. Once in a while an erotic look, no words necessary. It is interesting to note that after a while even without knowing and thinking you understand, you begin in small subtle ways to understand, perhaps like your dog understands.The sound of your voice devoid of the meaning of your words, rising in sound level, the faster clicking of the tongue against the roof of your mouth, your eyes keyed to your soul, all show meaning. All this goes on but I understand nothing you smile I listen, that's it. Someone utters some words and then they blush and I am left to wonder why. Looks are utterances, mute and expressive, a brute forcefulness of abstract sounds and delightful animation.
Love is language, the language of love. Everywhere it is different from my observation. I passed couples in Paris laid out on the spring grass under budding cherry trees, partially protected by jackets or blankets performing acts of love that in some countries would lead to the hangman. People kiss, I mean really kiss, hold, fondle, smile, look deep into each other's eyes with that erotic look, no words necessary, engage in eroticism that is a teaching moment done well. Travel is learning, if you do it right. If you go looking for dark and dower, you will find it, if you go looking for goodness and intelligence, you will find that too. What you seek you will most often find.
In Japan in the little Alpine village of Takayama, somewhat like the north Cascades of my home state, we had the good fortune to find a guide for the day, Hiro by name, who became my Hero,to take us out to to see the village. We learned from him, inadvertently that most everything in Japan has symbolic meaning based on centuries of understanding , much of it about and between the sexes. The great Tori gates are male and female we learned. That one walked beneath them on the sides, as only the Gods or ignorant foreigners walked down the middle. The temple dogs, similar to the Foo Dogs of the Chinese, were saying something, one with its mouth open was saying AH, first letter in the Japanese alphabet, while its counterpart on the other side of of the entry, with mouth closed, was saying URG, like a growl, last letter in the Japanese alphabet.
Hiro, was around 27 years old and had been educated in our state at Eastern Washington college, hence we all felt like family. We were talking back and forth about life and since we were family I was telling him about mine, and he shocked us by telling us that he had never seen his parents hug or kiss in his presence. Had he ever kissed his father, I asked, no and no, hugged I asked, no and no? Unfathomable. He had only shook his father's hand, never hugged either his mother or father. I couldn't believe it I have hugged and kissed both of my parents for ever. When did they come together I wondered as Japan was not underpopulated? When we parted on that final moment which we all must face, he hugged us with warmth and we him, very sweet. He then as a parting comment told us that when he was going to school in the USA that his host family was very loving and close, hence he learned to be close as well. When finally stepping down off of the train, in Takayama, on his return after four years, he, to the immense shock of his parent ran up to them and hugged and kissed them, he said they cried.
"In all things, the principle holds true that decline threatens when further expansion is impossible."
"Kenko". There is no stasis, either one is going forward or backward, especially in love.
imo ga kakine wa
tsubana majiri no
sumire no mi shite."
"The fence round her house,
The woman I loved long ago,
Is ravaged and fallen;
Only violets remain
Mingled with the spring weeds."
" Fujiwara no Kinsada" 1099-1103.