In the bus from Lacatunga to Quilotoa, Ecuador.
I am in a bus to Quilotoa. The bus is leaving in an hour or in half an hour, depending on whom we asked. I am in one of the first seats because it is the only seat without a seat in front of me so it offers me leg space. The bus is slowly filling up. It means that every minute an Ecuadorian grand ma or grand pa with an old and weathered face climbs over my legs. Vendors come in and out with banana chips and chewing gum.
I felt in a hurry this morning and the rush is slowly leaving my body. I am surrendering to the pace of the environment. I wanted to do a lot today, I wanted to quickly take a bus, drop my stuff at some hostel and do a four hour hike around the crater of another volcano before it gets cloudy, go back to the hostel, write a post and leave tomorrow to travel south again.
A part of me is still very western, very Dutch even. I remember from my first week of traveling, when I just arrived in Israel, that I learned that I can’t do as many things in a day as I was used to. I wanted to go to a city in the north of Israel, visit my grand parents grave, visit a couple I had met before and go back to Tel Aviv. The delay of my very first train of that day ruined that plan thoroughly and immediately.
As I am thinking of this I wonder if the reason we, people from western countries and big cities, rush and are always in a hurry is because we can. I can maneuver myself through the traffic of Amsterdam, I can run to catch a train that will leave exactly on time and I will arrive at my destination more or less precisely at the estimated time. But in Cali for example, all the teachers and the kids are half an hour too late in class when it starts raining unexpectedly. It is nobody’s fault really. When nature decides to lash out the city is paralyzed for a while. When it rains, it rains heavily. In The Netherlands we hardly have really extreme weather. On very rare occasions it is so slippery because of snow that life is chaotic for a day or so. In general life is predictable. In the day-to-day reality that I grew up in rushing works. Here it doesn’t.
When we are rushing we are haunted by something. At least, that is how I feel it. In a way I like rushing because it gives me the feeling I am staying ahead if the demon that is chasing me, that I am ‘winning’, given the fact that I still believe I can make it in time. That feeling of being haunted is fear. I fear being too late, I fear disappointing others and I fear missing out on things when I am late. When I look underneath these fears I can see that it is about fear of losing control over my life and the situation.
When we can acknowledge how much the fear of losing control is controlling our life it gets interesting. What are we controlling? What are we trying to keep within certain limits and boundaries? I try to control expectations, self-image, my income, my output, my appearance and much more. I have learned that believing in the idea of control is limiting and letting go of control liberating so I even manage my control mechanisms by practicing non-control daily.
The bus is moving and by now completely filled up. I feel a fear of tying myself in a knot. What if I am unable to clarify the topic that I started to write about an hour ago? Will my world fall apart?
The answer that I am feeling is that it is not about trying to lose all control but about the liberation from fear. When I want to cross a river swimming I can’t go straight across. I have to go diagonally, finding a balance between letting go and putting some effort in. To enter the river I need some trust and confidence and I need to have faith that wherever I will land I will be the right place. Both traveling and meditation makes the mind flexible. You learn to accept what is and surrender to reality as it presents itself, over and over again.
In front of me are 3 Ecuadorian ladies sleeping while sitting upright in a bumby bus. I think they are showing me how we can be completely relaxed with things as they are and still be on our way.
I will put my laptop away and stare out the window for a while.