Rio de Janeiro is not the obvious place to ponder questions of self and identity. The city screams, “Get out of your head and dance, man! Or at least play volleyball on the beach and jump in the ocean!” But lifelong habits follow you wherever you go and though today’s ponderings are not heavy-handed, they still tap my shoulder for attention. So I'll spend a few minutes with them here—
at least before I go out to the Samba class tonight.
“A hurry between two meetings” I wrote last Blog to define Self (and wondering ever since if I made that up or stole it) and riding the bus up to Corcovado today, I thought about all the various selves we carry with us and the maddening sense of not knowing which one will wake up today. A few other choice images:
• A worry between two imagined outcomes.
• A spittoon for bitter tobacco chewed far too long.
• A screensaver on someone else’s computer.
• Smoldering coals of desire awaiting a fan.
• A timetabled train on its way to its destination.
• A player in our parent’s (culture’s/ religion’s/ etc.) dream.
• An ongoing argument between “I can” on one shoulder and “I can’t” on the other.
• The hero in one’s unfolding fairy tale.
But my favorite self is the one I wait for each summer or wish for when I travel. I call him Nobody in Particular, an anonymous traveler just passing through and open to all impressions. He started to awaken today ascending Corcovado, gently moving to the side all my ever-accumulating anger and outrage, disappointment and sense of betrayal, sending them to the basement and firmly announcing, “My turn.” And so I stood below Christ the Redeemer with his open arms embracing this most extraordinary city below and simply breathed in the whole scene and felt those troublesome solid selves begin to dissolve in the exhale. Down to the flatlands and the rare treat of riding bikes with my lovely host around the Lagoon, touching back to that little boy I once was, so enamored with World before the crusty selves begin to form. Kids! Don’t be in a hurry to grow up!! Savor your innocence and fluid selves!!!
So that’s all. Just longing for the old codger self to lighten up, cast aside bitterness, remember that playful little boy so blissfully unattached to identity, break free from the prison of self into the full freedom of the world.
And then go dance samba in Rio.