It’s been two weeks since we came back from a year of nomadic adventures on the roads of Latin America and returned to a sedentary life in San Francisco. Wherever we go, whomever we talk to, one question seems to be on everyone’s lips: “How does it feel to be back?”
My honest answer is that I’m thrilled. I love San Francisco with its steep streets and crooked homes, its lively, gentle and colorful people, its secret parks and its mysterious weather. Within days of landing I was at the dojo, giving a big heartfelt hug to my karate Master and resuming martial arts training. There is no other place in the world I would rather call home than San Francisco.
Yet something does not feel right.
Stillness is gone. The mind has taken over. I live in a world of task lists. Finding a place to live, moving in, buying furniture, finding a car, and most of all: making money. Think, worry, seek, plan, do – and start again.
When we travelled through epic mountains in the Andes or endless plains in Patagonia my world was crisp, full of sunshine and vibrant colors. Now it is covered in a thick blanket of fog, like San Francisco in the morning on a summer day. Looking through the windows of our cottage perched on a hill, I know there are houses, streets, and even an Ocean nearby but all my eyes can see is a white blur.
This fog is the voice in my head that constantly talks about the past and the future, the ceaseless flow of thoughts that fills time and space until the present no longer exists.
It’s a trick of the mind, an optical illusion.
Slowly silhouettes appear, first ghostlike shadows then shapes, crisper and crisper. As the wind blows the fog rolls away like a giant piece of cotton candy stretched too thin until it unravels. Soon a piece of blue sky appears, followed by houses, streets, hills, trees and even the blue-green waters of San Francisco bay.
I take a deep breath in and enjoy the air entering my lungs, filling each cell of my body with energy, invigorating my soul. Thoughts shrink and vanish inside my head as I leave the past and the future to focus on what is happening this instant. No problems, no worries, no stress, only consciousness.
The mind-induced fog is gone. Stillness takes its place. Once again the world is bright and colorful.