No time to speak the truth fully. No time to have every single conversation. No time to stop all the evils in the world. No time to say goodbye properly.
The reality is, suddenly it’s time to move into a new house. It’s time to say goodbye to my hosts with so much still unsaid and undone. Suddenly four weeks are gone. Four years flash by. And the time to prevent and to mold has slipped away. There is no time to listen to all the music in the world, no time to read all the books, and no time to properly explore every part of the world. The greatest frustration in life is the feeling of finiteness, driven primarily by the limits of time.
Las Vegas is a dreamland in the sense that no clocks and no windows mean I could live for days in the same state, with only physical fatigue and an emptier bank account to indicate the passage of time. So in that limbo the artist can hang, and drift in life, and have time to create beauties like the Tintin comics, until death robs humanity of life and all that’s left is the unfinished manuscript of Tintin and Alph-Art. So many of those incomplete pieces are scattered in the world today. What would the authors say if they were alive? Only they know, and that power is destroyed with them in their death.
There is no time, the deadline is here, for this hurriedly slopped together story.
Suddenly the time for departure arrives. The day comes, the hour hits, and the minute brings me through the door to another world. Today it may be an airplane cabin. Tomorrow it’s another apartment. Another day it’s a different school, a new office, a foreign land.
There’s never enough time to prepare for the change with so much packed into every minute. Suddenly the car arrives and it’s time to leave. Goodbye, and goodbye.
Suddenly the door closes on that apartment forever, and a new view presents itself everyday.
Remembering where I came from helps put the change in context. I came from New York even though I am transferring in Zurich. I came from Long Island even though I have moved from neighborhood to neighborhood.
And where am I going? I’ll arrive there, suddenly.
It was so easy …
One morning I was in the mountains, and the evening, it seemed, I was across the world in a city. Wake up here, then move to sleep somewhere else, and I wake up without knowing where I am.
Conversely, how quickly a place can become where I call home. One year in that apartment, two in that unit, or a week abroad in the same room, and home becomes a shifting anchor from which I organize my life. Of course, the house I grew up in, the place my parents live, remains home in the most literal sense, but once I form my circle of friends and haunts somewhere else, home is really where I choose to be.
That can change quickly. The rapidity of movement both opens up incredible possibilities and ends potentially deeper relationships. Friendships require cultivation, which isn’t as easy when the seeds are constantly uprooted and replanted.
Is it the lure of the grass being greener on the other side that pushes for relocation? Sometimes that can mean jaunts to other countries for weeks, when I decide where I came from is generally better (i.e. more comfortable). But I still remember the pace of life in each of those places: What breakfast is like, what time dinner is eaten, how convenient the mall is, and what people do on weekends. In a dream world I’d pick the elements I like best from each place and create my own utopia.
In reality a place’s charm comes more from the people than the architecture, of the buildings and of life. The more the world develops, the easier it is to find the same food, shops entertainment and fitness centers in every place. What made the experience unique was the habits of the people, better known as culture.
So when I close the door on one apartment, I’m saying goodbye to the guy who borrowed my pot and let his cat into my kitchen. Or at another, children laughing down the hall. The next place has a view, but quiet strangers all around. And a few weeks ago, I faced the Alps and cows every day.
In mountain villages everyone says hello and in Kentucky everyone waves. That casual friendliness to strangers is impossible in New York where hundreds cram the sidewalks. But the energy of human flourishing is a greeting in itself.
Crazy still is the knowledge that across the world in Asia someone is just getting up to buy steamed buns, or that a bed and breakfast owner in Scotland is frying mushrooms and tomatoes. They’re all just an airplane ride away. The limits of time have seemingly shrunk.
It was so easy and surreal to get out to the mountains that I imagine I could get there by opening a magic door somewhere.