There are many challenges to be faced when travelling. One of my biggest hurdles is feeling comfortable in your skin wherever you are. this is massive for me- and often difficult – especially when I find myself deep in a city environment. I suppose maybe everyone feels like they are in some way “different” from the people around them, but here in Brisbane, 10,000 miles from my peaceful home on a farm and three days of travelling later I find my hippie self feeling sad – hopeless even as I watch the milling of crowds and the focus on buying everything they don’t need. I think about other places, hungry children, no water, war – why ca’t I just enjoy this like everyone else can??
I am in the middle of one of the most wealthy and
cities I the world. Brisbane is a smallish city actually, but everyone here is incredibly well dressed, and carry the “British” politeness that can seem a bit (a bit??) aloof.
john and I go to the local Brisbane City market, where there are fresh fruits and veggies, organic stuff and the most delicious frozen lemonade I have ever had. That was great – no discomfort. After the sweet little market, we find ourselves in a shopping mecca of rare proportions. Air condtioners blast cool air onto the cordoned off open high end retail street to enhance to experience of visiting shoppers. Local folks come out at lunch time and mill about the long road closed off for the exclusive stores – Versace, Rolex, Gucci. Shop windows with beautiful new fashions, flowing and shiny. A massive wall of art looks like an explosion of butterflies, and an old man is playing a tin flute and tapping his foot. Well dressed children walk with their well dressed parents look straight ahead and don’t return my smile. Chinese and Hong Kong clients adorned in snappy asian fashion; a parade of humanity in a sea of commercialism.
Meanwhile, all I can think of while I am walking through this mass of materialism is how ridiculous I feel. Part of me wants to look like those beautifully dressed, shiny haired women, with their perfect shoes, and matching handbags. Yup – part of me really wants to be part of that group that no one looks down on. No one pushes around. The group that has a protective wall of money and a feeling of entitlement around them. I was a full member of that unfortunate club when I was younger – but here I am torn.
My feet are sore, and I reach down to take off my shoes. My messy hair spills into my face, I am swetaing and it all stick to me. I look up – Figuring I must have looked like a Muppet for second. I remember the conversation last week when my daughter remarked to me as I stood in our living room wearing my Nepalese poncho and thong sandals, that my wardrobe looked remarkably like I went shopping with Jesus. Maybe I need an overhaul.
I look down now, here in Brisbane at my Jesus feet, my hippie shirt and I am suddenly thinking about a hair cut, pumps and an A line skirt like “in the old days” when I was working in the “real world” as a sales rep and had “an image to maintain” and there were rules about this kind of stuff. I hate rules.
Suddenly I am full of shit, and nothing I wear, nothing I do to my hair, not even a pair of Luis Vuiton would make this all ok.
I am disgusted. I am sad and i feel hopeless – standing in the of the center of this massive milling well dressed aloof crowd. I take my shoes off. I feel the ground beneath my feet and exhale with great pleasure. Looking around I feel a wash of gratitude at my freedom. Let;s face it – those other people could not take their shoes off. They would not put their feet on the earth to remind themselves that we are all humans travelling a journey together. They would not seek eye contact with me or anyone else – they are too busy thinking about how they can sati=sfy their next desire.They can not- their choices have compromised their freedom to be.
I am grateful for my free feet – my naked feet now burning on the hot perfectly paved nearly golden lined streets of Brisbane. I am grateful for my freedom – for my choices and for my ME-ness.
Maybe I look like I shopped with Jesus. Maybe my clothes isn’t fancy. and Maybe I don’t have a fancy office and a big car. No – the whole PLANET is my office i realize! And my job – is MUSIC. wow – how awesome is that.
My confession to you dear reader is that I like poverty. I like poor places and I like poor people. Why? Because they are easy to understand, relate to – get them and they get me. There is a kindness that exists in poverty that is certainly absent in Gold trimmed cultures. there is a feeling of connection and purpose and commitment to goodness that you will not find on Wall street.
I heard of a place called Bhuto that actually measures the wealth of its nation according to GDH – Gross Domestic Happiness. How awesome.
Today I will be alone in the city, and I will go back to the “golden mecca”, take my shoes off – hell maybe I’ll even play int he fountain.
And Ill stop caring about how I look, and who I am in the world outside my own heart. A
I will make eye contact even if my fellow humans dont want it – and to the best of my ability I WILL LOVE THEM ALL.
Shoe less, messy haired and jesus ponchoed – its just me. That’s it.