I made minestrone for dinner tonight. I grated carrots, chopped garlic and onions, diced zucchini, celery, and beans, and halved cherry tomatoes. I sang along to the iPod set as loudly as I liked… There’s no one on this mountaintop property except me. I have had a lot of time physically by myself over the past 3 months, more than I have ever had in my life. It’s an exciting week if I get off the mountain twice. And I have embraced it with all my might. (I’ve also had days when I’ve fiercely resisted it but, in general, I’ve embraced it.) I have said to people, multiple times, that I feel like something important is consolidating itself in me at the moment… I’m just not 100% sure what it is right now. It feels like the kind of thing that will really make itself known in the next chapter of my life, whatever that looks like.
So I was stirring my minestrone and letting various thoughts flit their way through my head, and I stumbled across this one… ‘I really like people.’ What’s that got to do with minestrone? Well, I was stirring my soup and watching all the different ingredients glide past me in a whirlpool of nutritious, colourful goodness, and I thought to myself ‘That’s what people are like.’ And I’m talking about ‘people’ here, not just ‘friends’. Not every vegetable in that pot is my favourite. I don’t particularly like pumpkin on its own, I wouldn’t regularly hang out with pumpkin, or go to the movies with it, but it makes the soup more nutritious, more well-rounded, more complete. If I took out everything in that soup that isn’t my absolute favourite… Well, I wouldn’t have any soup.
I like the soup of humanity. Even though I have been occasionally prone to flouncing around with my snobby little snot-face on, I actually love people more than I have often let on, or even let myself appreciate. Lots of the time, I’ve preferred to be kind of elitist about it… Lots of people can bear testament to the fact that I have, in the past, lauded my own elitism, claimed it, praised it, and vehemently stood by it. Now, I’m not saying I’m going to make it my new mission to hang out with everyone and be friends with everyone I meet – There’s a huge amount to be said for being incredibly selective about the people you spend the majority of time and energy with… But spending all this time physically alone has heightened my awareness of the plethora of stories that abound, and the fascinating experiences that are intrinsically held in the tenement of another human being… Every human being. Every single, glorious one of you.
A while back, I went into the city after a week or two pretty much alone… And I could barely contain my delight, just be walking along a city street in a lunchtime swell of people! The stories, the characters, the mysteries! My god, they’re EVERYWHERE!! I was temporarily absolved of any of my notions of lack around my own work – Of course people will read my stories, of course there are people out there who are longing to do Writes of Passage! Of course! Of course there is work for me, there are so many people! It’s a statistical impossibility that there aren’t people out there who are longing to connect and share stories with the likes of me. Impossible. I went and had lunch at a Hare Krishna restaurant, and I grinned at the men and women in mainstream corporate attire who filled the restaurant around me. I smiled at their daytime disguises, knowing that beneath their costumes swirled oceans of stories, lifetimes of adventures never before experienced or articulated in exactly that way… Humanity is an Aladdin’s cave of mind-blowing wonder… And we forget that sometimes, I forget that sometimes.
Sitting up here on this mountaintop, now that the sun has gone down, I look out for miles around and I see the gold of thousands of human lives literally twinkling in the distance. From way up here, the spread of humanity speaks of a priceless wonderland of a million glowing stories, not the diabolical plague that news stories seem to speak of. Way up here I have my miracle eyes open and I gather to me my every interaction like a child’s cherished marble collection. I look into the swirling glass, intrigued for hours, mystified as to the formation of that particular marble and its differences from every other.
We, humanity, are beautiful. We are strange and fascinating, glowing and beautiful, individual and yet marvelously connected. Humanity, I like you. I like you a lot. I like being here. I like being part of this. I am so freaking stoked that there are still so many more adventures to come between us.
Maybe this is what this mountaintop sabbatical is about… And more and wider and deeper still.