Sometimes we think about those people we once loved but who are long gone from our lives. I wrote this letter during a Mercury retrograde in the spring or early summer of 2015 when I was staying neat Kasar Devi, India. Perhaps, if I would have had an internet connection where I was staying, I would have sent this letter to it’s inspiration in the spontaneity of the moment, but several days passed before I walked up the mountain and by then I had lost my nerve. I never did find the required nerve, but recently, as I sat in the boat too many miles from shore, my memory once more turned back to those lost loves and this letter I’d written in the spring. Of course, I once more thought to send it, but as I searched for an e-mail address to send it too I came across some fresh wedding pictures and lost my nerve once again. In any case, it’s written with such sincerity and touches on some grand themes that have been guiding my life for so long that I feel it should be shared with whoever feels to read it. I doubt if there is anyone who can guess who I wrote it to (and that’s just as well); it’s really just a letter to my past self.
Dear past self,
Since you still come to my thoughts and dreams (lately) I have to write you a letter regardless of time. I’m not sure when the last time was, certainly I wrote you since I’ve been coming to India. I’ve seen you a couple of times over the years. Once was at Khazana when when I was there with my soon to be wife to show her where I wanted to have the wedding dinner. It wasn’t the time or place to say anything. The other time was last summer (or perhaps the previous one) just after I’d arrived back to Canada. You were leaving the downtown farmers market just as I was arriving. I was was too stunned or too shocked to say anything this time.
It’s likely that I’m writing this because I’ve been too long isolated in the forest. I can see my mind starting to wax nostalgic. But you’ve been coming to me in dreams rather than in reverie. So, considering everything else that is going on in my life, I suppose I have to listen to these dreams and say my hi, hello, how are you?
If you ask me this question: how am I? I don’t really know how to answer. I’m not really sure where I stand these days. All this being away in foreign lands is taking it’s tole. I’ve been traveling continuously for since 2007. I can’t say that I really even wanted to travel all this time, but often felt I had no choice having chosen to be landless and poor rather than continue construction which wasn’t doing me much good anyways. I’m often pushed to move by the seasons: Canada’s cold, India’s heat, the movement of the tourists. I’ve been doing acupuncture, teaching yoga and doing astrology for a few years now. This gets me by, but it certainly doesn’t get me ahead.
For years I didn’t think much about getting ahead, but something happened this year that seems to have lit a fire under my ass. Maybe it’s a progression of the same thought that led me to India: “I’m almost 30,” but now I’m almost 40!
Between traveling and working out of town before that, I don’t have a lot of friends left in Edmonton. This past summer (summer 2015) was the first time I can remember having a fairly idle summer in Edmonton. Other than teaching a morning yoga class and a few astrology charts I had nothing to do all summer in the city. I was staying with a friend downtown spending much of my time in the coffee shops. I’m used to idling away my days this way. Reading, writing, studying and just putting myself in the way so perhaps I can meet someone new or see someone old. It’s been a little like being retired thru my 30’s. In any case, I wasn’t really doing what I hoped to be doing in Canada, which was more acupuncture.
So I came back to India and opened my clinic/studio and continued with my purpose. An Indian clinic/studio needs nothing but my presence to be open. People come to my room or I go to theirs for treatment, and the yoga is on the rooftop overlooking Ganga. It’s easy and effective. In Canada I didn’t even have a room of my own as I was sleeping on my friends living room floor. I gave several treatments here too but Canadians don’t have much appreciation for floors or simplicity.
Anyways, the heat (44 degrees) chased me out of Varanasi about a month ago. Varanasi was the only tourist destination I know in India and it appears I’m not too anxious to discover other ones. I like these peaceful little places without many people or much infrastructure. Where I am now is a one hour walk thru the mountains for food or a two hour walk for a wifi connection. Of course they are in opposite directions.
I’m writing what looks to be a book. I only realized this about a week ago. Wow can this boy write! I don’t suppose you ever get bored and or curious enough to look at my blog. Maybe you don’t even know I have one. It could use an editor, but professionalism isn’t really the goal of the blog; I just want to share my writing, my studies, my thoughts. It’s fairly popular among strangers. Indians seem to love my blog; seeing their country and traditional knowledge thru the eyes of a westerner. They like the idea of some white guy being Baba in Varanasi. I have such devotees online as you cannot imagine; I can’t even imagine! I’m not sure if they are crazy or if I’m crazy, but they keep me busy. I’m even asked to give blessings from time to time. The desperation of people to see hope in me astounds me. But this is what the world has become, there is so little hope left that people will find it anywhere. In any case, these people have kinda convinced me that I am, or can be a beacon of hope in this world, but of course I also have more work to do.
Though I struggle with it, my heart has always been with Canada. As soon as I started learning in India I have wanted to somehow bring my learning back to Canada and Canadians. I have always wanted to be one of those people who make a difference. My problem is that I currently have such a small scope and I’m generally preaching to the converted. My goal of course has always been the poor and downtrodden and those people who cannot afford or have no notion of things like acupuncture and yoga.
In any case, perhaps I’m rambling…. I don’t really know what to say. Really I just want to ask, how are you? What’s new in life?
I’ll be back in Canada soon. I don’t know what soon means: in month maybe. I’m planing to take a big step back into construction and material life to try to make enough money to study more acupuncture this winter. I assume this means I’ll be back in Edmonton or at least Alberta, though I could end up back in Kenora, Ontario, where I last worked. It would nice to see you again and perhaps catch up over a cup of tea or something. Maybe then my heart will not leap up thru my throat when I see you and I’ll be able to at least manage a hi, hello, how are you?
I just took a break and made some tea. It occurred to me why you may have come to my mind just at this point. I met my one foreign neighbour yesterday. She’s a western astrologer from Israel and we somehow got talking about my lack of home and lack of community and of course all of this is related with my fathers death, which I don’t generally associate with our relationship, but I suppose the two endings (at least) are woven together in my life. It was a busy time for me then. I started studying writing and then went all bohemian and lost control of everything before going to work out of town. I’ve never really been back even if I have been there. I’ve called (or denied) Edmonton my home since 1998 and the only connection I really have there is for work. Even the couple friendship I have left are fading though poor Chris knows he is the only person I really have in Edmonton. I met Chris in those old apartments on Jasper ave, but I’m sure you were long gone from my life by then. I’m lucky to have him in my life like a brother.
As I write I feel myself warming up and getting comfortable with your familiarity. I want to ask about your mom and your dad and your sister, a couple of your close friends at the time were nice girls, do you still talk with them? You were doing some leadership coaching or some such thing when we spoke last. I think you were working somewhere near my hearing aid place on 124st. I’ve come to understand how deaf I am without my hearing aids, maybe it’s gotten worse with age, but it must have been tough being with someone so deaf and not even realizing it. Anyways, it’s kind of a blessing for an Indian traveler: I can sleep anywhere and take peace whenever I want.
My memory brings with it a sense of our youth and our fears of facing the future. I can remember having these kinda of conversation where we would say that we don’t want to end up like this or like like. I don’t remember too many details. We were both living drinking culture then and didn’t want to end up like our parents (whose sins seem to have gotten dissolved with experience and the passage of time). In many ways, I’ve never felt as grown up and stable as I did when we were together. Perhaps I’ve been getting this sense again over the past couple of years, but it’s the only time in my life that I feel like I lived the way I think Canadians generally live. I’m talking about average upright Canadians, not the bohemians and artists who are living on the edges of Canadian culture, but those who have done something with their lives. As I write this sentence it occurs to me that I don’t know many of these sorts of people. My brother took this path and stopped talking to me about five years ago; he hasn’t spoken with my mother for longer. A couple of my cousins also seem to be going that direction, though we still talk. In any case, that year I spent with you in that house with the garden and all that was the only glimmer I’ve ever had of such a thing; settled life. I’m often just a curiosity when I’m in houses like that now.
Anyways, even if I haven’t matured in my relationships, at least my healing and my practices are maturing. Experience comes whether you seek it out or not. But I’m getting tired. I just want to go home and stay there and not go anywhere. But I have no home. Construction was a kind of home for me for several years: it took me in and fed me and gave me everything I need when ever I ask for it. It’s been a few years since I’ve gone that path and even then it was a couple of years of only working a few weeks each. I don’t take to well working for others anymore; I’m much better at giving the orders than taking them. Perhaps I’ve become a little prideful in my independence. After all these years I’m still struggling with my relationship with construction. This too began with my fathers death. His death never leaves me when I’m on a construction site. Maybe nothing has really changed.
The marriage ended in Guadalajara, Mexico three weeks after it began. The divorce dragged on for another two years but was relatively painless. She stayed with her parents in Guadalajara, I went to Nicaragua and then found a Turkish girlfriend in Guatemala. I told her I wanted to have a baby, she told me I was a married man. The divorce came thru about the same time I broke up with the girlfriend. Perhaps it would have worked if we would have stayed in Guatemala together. But an India trip together took it’s toll and then visa restrictions finished us (she was trying to come to Canada with Turkish visa while the Canadian Foreign Service was on strike). That was the last time I worked construction with any kind of intent. I ended up quitting after a couple of months to go to Turkey and see that relationship to its conclusion.
I’m a very emotional man, I don’t remember if I was this way then, but I’m very sensitive to the shades of passion within myself, what my acupuncture teacher called sudden hits of heat. When I was a child it came out as a temper, now that I’m a free man I’m free to express what was pent up then. These hits of heat often push me to travel and push my own bounds now. It was a hit of heat that brought me to acupuncture. This spontaneity has opened unimaginable doors for me in this world as well as others. I’m actually a very lucky person. I’ve been mostly happy for most of my life, even in the depression of my drinking days I had this happy-go-luckiness to my life. I suspect I was a happy fellow in our days together, until I fell into chaos at the end. But I think even that period I handled with a certain degree of equanimity.
I still remember your smile; it still makes me smile. I can hear your voice too now that I listen. It’s been a lot of years but your image seems to have stayed in mind. I can’t imagine what it would be to sit with you again.
Anyways, I see I’m coming to the bottom of the third page on word, so I suppose I’ll bring this message to a conclusion. It’s been nice thinking about you for this past hour or two I have taken to write this. I certainly hope your happy and healthy and with reason to be in good spirits and all of that.
I send my love and a hug and great peace,
2 thoughts on “Letter to the Past”
This was actually great inspiration for me to write this same kind of letter… Thank you!
Thnaks for sharing Crystal. I hope that you will share this inspired letter with the rest of us. 🙂