Foreign

pano_20161010_161239The weather has turned. Clouds obscure the mountain peaks, threatening to descend into the river valley below and to blanket the town in dew. Only the half-hearted efforts of the pale sun can keep the chill at bay, though its fire cannot seem to gather enough strength to dispel the clouds that cling to the mountain cliffs. The trees have failed to notice the coming winter, since they have not begun to change their colors just yet. My visit here was short, but good. Guided by my map, I follow an unknown path to the train station.

My previous home is far away now and I wonder if the trees there have already changed their colors. There, my path was well understood. Carved into the stone cliffs of the river gorge, worn smooth by years of foot traffic, it was the same path I walked each day. I spent years collecting knowledge of the rituals of that place, and the role I was to play in them. They were unique and strange in their own ways, yes, but they were known.

Why did I choose to move to this new place, with its foreign paths, its confusing signs, its arcane rituals? I can play no part here, I am a stranger. In my previous home I had a role, I had stability. There were no hardships for me there. That world was crafted perfectly for my comfort, and as tribute, I had only to give myself over to routine.

The train cuts sharply through the landscape, crossing a river so clear and blue, it could have been carved from aquamarine. The tracks are flanked by green pastures, dotted every now and then with white cows or goats. Small towns with tall church steeples lay nestled in valleys amongst the pastures and the trees. I wonder if the people live happily there.

Even in the comfort of routine, life is hard. Repetition is stagnation, boredom and chronic back pain. Contentment is a shallow happiness. Beneath it grow the seeds of doubt or resentment. For some, routine is an easy tribute, because their adventure lies elsewhere. For me this is not so. (We are not all the same.) This new place brings hardships, true, but what are those hardship really? Uncertainty, confusion, foreignness? I would rather pay these tributes, for in return I receive not a life well lived, but an adventure well explored.

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