Sometimes at night I stand at the sliding glass doors of my apartment, more often now called my ‘flat,’ and look out across the South China Sea and watch the ships and the lights and I marvel at how my life is so different from what I thought it would be. And sometimes when I do this I feel so small -just one little person in this vast experience of humanity. Sometimes this is a relief and sometimes this is very sad. Sometimes I wonder how many other people are looking out their windows and wondering how it is that they came to be who they are and where they are and why.
It feels quite literally like floating.
I am here in Hong Kong. And in a rational sense I am quite clear how that happened. And probably why it happened as well. But beyond that, I feel like I am floating. Like how Chance the gardener must have felt when he lef the confines of his garden in the movie, Being There. From person to person and place to place and experience to experience. In the life I have chosen there is very little that is concrete right now – it feels very abstract and fluid. I think that floating is good. And the ability to do it without anxiety even better. But the danger in it is the potential to lose yourself in the atmosphere and forget – really forget – who you are. Sometimes I feel like The Red Balloon, and I wish I was with Pascal because Pascal appreciated and understood the nature of the Red Balloon.
Pascal was a tether of sorts. The perfect kind really, as he didn’t even hold on, but he was a willing co-conspirator for the red balloon. Pascal became the boy with the red balloon. As I get ready to go home and see my family and friends from whom circumstance has kept me away for far too long, I feel incredibly grateful to see myself in their eyes – the good and the bad – because it is ME. And it is a necessary complement to the me that is out here in the vastness of experience. A welcome tether.
A friend from another lifetime just described his recent high school reunion as cognizant dissonance. Yes. I experienced an equally difficult to articulate sensation when I attended mine. All of our shared experiences paled in comparison to our independently lived ones. Trying to even imagine the myriad lives that were on display was not, is not, possible. But that they exist in such amazing variety gives me great comfort.
On these evenings when I look outside and I wonder, “Who?” “Why?” “How?” about my life I think about all the Pascals in my life and the times when I too, am Pascal, or maybe the Little Girl, for all the other balloons floating by. I used to think that this situation, this floating, was a result of an ex-pat life. Now I think it may just be a human condition. Though perhaps it is just me. It is so easy to get so caught up in the comings and goings and doings that we forget about being; and it is nice to look and see Pascal there, alongside me wherever I go… just being there, reminding us that we only float so far. It is nice to know there are people out there who really, really, really know us. Especially when it feels like we have lost sight of ourselves.
I hope tonight there are lots of people standing at their windows and looking up in the sky at all their balloons going by.