Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta peace. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta peace. Mostrar todas las entradas

lunes, 7 de agosto de 2017

They speak to us

   If you stand in the bridge, you wouldn’t be able to see it. You have to walk south, by the great way. It’s a rather short walk. On the left bank, you will see a beautiful meadow plagued with trees that are not tall or especially beautiful. However, if you walk across the meadow, close to a wall that limits the growth of plants, you will see a small hill and three trees on top of it. The one with the straightest trunk, clean leaves, and no roots on sight, is the one I want to tell you about.

 Beneath that tree, a friend of mine was buried a long time ago. He was not especially strong or fit or brave. He was not particularly remarkable in any way. He was just my friend and that is the reason why that tree is so special to me. I’ve been there many times, at night and during the day, a few minutes and also several hours. And every single time I visit that place, I talk to my friend. Sometimes there is nothing to say, other times it’s different. It changes, as life happens to be.

 I like that meadow because the sunset look gorgeous from it, the golden rays from the sun seem to be touching your body in such a magical way. Even when it rains, the green field looks as if it had escaped a book of fantastical stories. It’s the kind of place where, in stories, ladies and lords encounter beautiful white unicorns and heroes lift a sword out of a stone. I wonder if thing like that have actually happened there but maybe it’s best not to know for certain and just imagine.

 It feels good to be there, laying on the grass and just hearing the wind caressing the greenery. Flowers are scarce but when you find one, it is sure to be one of the most beautiful botanical being your eyes have ever seen. So many colors and such beautiful designs. They make you realize how perfect nature is and how intricate life can be in order to create things that have apparently little to no value. That’s how simpleminded and stupid humans are, because we just do not understand.

 I’m not saying I do understand but, when I’m there, I do feel different than usual. Sometimes I feel my muscles are stronger than ever and some other times I feel it is my mind that has grown one full size, in intellectual terms. I have attributed this particular feeling to the fact that my friend is there, beneath the tree or maybe inside of it. I have a special connection with that place, that goes far beyond it’s location or the many ways the sun touches the leaves and the rain flows down the small hills. It’s just something that I will never be able to understand or explain.

 I never go to two of my favorite places at once but I do have another natural space where I like to relax my aching bones. It’s a prairie, many hours away by walking from the meadow. It’s on the outskirts of civilization and maybe that’s the reason why it feels so special. It might also be the fact that many great people died there a long time ago and the place became a graveyard, although not on purpose. There’s not a sign labeling it as such and there are not tombstones to read.

 You feel the presence of thousands of soul when you enter the prairie. That one, different from the meadow, is filled with flowers all over. As trees are scarce, flowers grow on the ground, big as the fists of a mighty warrior. The colors are unimaginable if one has never been there and the sound of many birds creates a wall of sound that no scream or weapon can pierce. It is very beautiful but it can also be a little bit too much, if the person doesn’t know how to handle it.

 I’ve gone there for many years, from a very young age. Family members were buried there for generations and I feel that my body will also lay beneath the many flowers of the prairie. It’s not a nice thought on my head, but it comforts me that, at the very least, my final resting place could be that beautiful place full of all many of the things that people in other places don’t really have anymore. Birds and flowers are considered wild nowadays and people don’t like that too much.

 There are no hills, no real elevations on that never-ending prairie. There’s just a road on one side and a road on the other. The rest is grass and flowers and birds’ songs. Nothing much besides that. I relax on the meadow but not on the prairie. The prairie makes me think too much sometimes, about my own mortality and about the many things I have yet to do in this life. It makes me feels I have little time, which is true, but I suddenly hear the clock ticking and it’s unbearable.

 When I go, I only stay for a couple of hours and then leave without a prayer or a word. I don’t talk to anyone there, even if a good part of my family’s bones has fed the flowers that live there. I don’t feel comfortable or happy there. But I don’t feel sad or persecuted. It’s just a very strange feeling of not being quite there somehow… I don’t understand it and I just go there when I feel I need to pay my respects, which happens when I take the road north in order to get home after several days of hard labor. I go because I have to, in a certain way, not because I want to.

 My final spot is not very far from home. I live in a beautiful mountain, which oversees the most amazing green valley you have ever seen. Only a small amount of farms break a beautiful natural landscape. The sound of the stream is the one that always tells me I’m only a few minutes away from seeing the faces of my family. When I pass the rushing waters, I can almost feel their skin on my hands, their perfume on my noise and their happy laughs on my ears. It really is home.

 When I’m there, I often take my family to the other side of the mountain. It’s a bit colder and rockier than the place we live in but somehow I really like it. It happens to be the border that separates our country, if one can call it that, from the rest of the world. Beyond the rocks, you can only see the tallest and greenest trees in existence. They make a kind of fabric that extends for several kilometers and then some more. Water can be heard but not seen and animals are the only ones populating it.

 There are no roads that cross it. No one really dares to go through the maze that is the forest. Some daring neighbors love to go there in the summer to pick up grapes, the wild kind, that grow on the outskirts. The yare very sweet and have a beautiful purple color and kind smell. However, wolves have been known to attack people that stay there for too long. It is not a place for humans to thrive. But it’s nice to look at all those leaves from above, while having a warm drink.

 I enjoy the view alone or with my family. We spread mother’s ashes there some three years ago and I still remember how the wind carried the dust the deepest parts of the forest. I stayed there, waiting for the cloud that was my mother to fall on top of the trees but the wind kept on carrying it away, farther and farther away from everything that woman had ever known. It made me think about her and about every single person I had ever met that was not in this world anymore.

 Those are my favorite places on this Earth. They are so different the one from the other but they do share the fact that I feel my people on them, I feel their hearts and minds and, certainly, they souls. They guide me still in this wretched world.


 I know I will become one of them someday. It might be today or tomorrow or in several years. But I know it will happen. In a very strange way, it calms me to know that they are going to be there, on the other side. And I will still be able to visit all my favorite spots.

jueves, 18 de agosto de 2016

The monastery

   The poor creature did it al by itself. It had carried the body of a lost hiker after almost dying in an avalanche. The donkey was exhausted and collapsed after crossing the gate of the monastery. Monk Yato was crossing the yard in order to get to the kitchen and was the first one to see the poor animal and the person it had brought to them. By the touch of his fingers, Yato noticed the donkey had died. It was probably due to exhaustion. As far as the man was concerned, Yato and other monks carried him to one of the rooms.

 He was in some kind of coma for almost a week. Every so often, monks would check on him and realize that he was doing great except for the fact that he was fast asleep. But life in the mountains went on, no matter how interesting it was to have someone from the outside so close by. The younger monks were the most curious ones, whereas the older ones hadn’t cared yet and had decided not to visit the tourist at all

During that week, the monks held a small vigil for the soul of the donkey, which they had buried near the main temple of the monastery. They all appreciated a lot what animals could do for humanity and had a tremendous respect for any kind of life that was lost during accidents in the mountains. The men from beyond didn’t seem too convinced by this but the monks believed it with all their hearts.

 One week after, the hiker woke up in the middle of the night. His name was Greg Emerson and he had been climbing almost every single mountain nearby. It was very dangerous as some of the mountains had special regulations but it had been clear he didn’t care about it, at all. When he woke up in the small room they had put him in, he instantly thought he had been captured by some foreign force from beyond the mountain range. He had no idea of monks or their beliefs.

 The halls were being watched and his bedroom’s window overlooked a large chasm with no apparent bottom. The morning after, when one of the monks decided to check on him, Greg committed the mistake of being excessively aggressive. He thought he was too strong, so he released the man in order to stand up and run away. But the monk had not being that injured and jumped at him, tacking Greg to the ground with ease.

 He was locked up in the cell once again and no one came to tell him anything for a whole day. It was very late when he noticed the movement of a light behind his cell’s door and then some steps. He trusted he was going to be released real soon. When the door opened, it was the Grand Monk, a very small mall that seemed to move his legs really fast in order to move at a normal pace.

 When he entered the cell, he told Greg that he knew who he was, his full name, his job in the city and why he had come to the mountains. He even knew that that his reason for wanting to get to know the mountains and nature was false and that’s why he had been confined to that cell until he got better. Now that he was, they had to check if it was in their best interest to release him or if it was better to keep him for a longer time. He complained, saying it wasn’t legal and ethic to retain someone against their will but the Grand Monk clarified he could leave his room but not the monastery.

 The following day, he noticed the Grand Monk’s orders had been honest: no more monks came to check into him and the door of his cell was now wide open. He could walk all around the various levels of the monastery, including the dining room where all of the monks gather at night to have a very sensible and small dinner. Greg missed the real foods from the city, sometimes being hungry for a hotdog and other times for some pasta with meatballs. In the monastery there was only a lame kind of bread with nothing on it and some goat cheese.

 One day, a monk showed him the burying site of the donkey that had brought him to the monastery. Greg remembered that creature and thanked him on his grave for having saved him. As far as he could remember, he had been riding the donkey for a while through the mountains just when they had been caught by one of those awful storms that sometimes happens deep in the mountains. During that awful weather, he had been knocked out and the animal had done everything by itself. 

 Weeks after being “released” from his room, the Grand Monk ordered him to participate in the various activities that the monks did all around the monastery, as he was one more of them for at least a while. So they decided to try him in various areas. The first one was the garden, a small hydroponic plantation overlooking the chasm. He wasn’t very good with plants so he did not do a great job. Besides, his hand were not at all delicate and he was always distracted, looking over at the view or being apparently immersed in his thoughts about how he would return to civilization.

 The next place they tied him on was the goat pen. It was really simple: he only had to fee them twice a day and let the roam around the main yard for a while. The ideal walk for the goats would be to go beyond the gate but they couldn’t let him go with them there so the monk had to tolerate the goats being all over the place now and Greg being useless when feeding them. He only gave food to a couple of them and then he just got distracted when looking at the snowy mountains and imagining what his loved ones were thinking right then.

 His last opportunity was in the kitchen, where a big Monk called Hitso, taught him about how to make the simple bread they ate and how to do some other dished with the vegetables they grew in their small garden.  They didn’t have any modern appliances, only an oven that used wood but there was no wood nearby that they could use. Beside, Hitso explained to Greg that the monks preferred not to eat things that were cooked, instead eating everything raw.

 In the kitchen, Greg really felt he was a little bit happier. Maybe it was the fact that he was serving the monks and that gave him some kind of purpose or it may have been the fact that he had stopped thinking about how to escape and about his loved ones in the city. He just realized that the monastery was his reality at the moment and that it was best to use it in his advantage instead of always being distracted by other things.

 Greg began to enjoy the company of all the monks and even tried to meditate like they did but he wasn’t that calm yet. In his spare time, he would look at the chasm and wonder what marvels laid down there, beyond the light of the sun. Monk Yato explained to him that the monastery had been built right there because their religion believed an ancient evil slept beneath the darkness of the chasm and that it was necessary to have prepared religious people nearby in order to defend the world once whatever lived down there emerged.

 It was a very nice story and, of course, Greg didn’t believe any part of it but he respected the fact that the monks were dedicated to their beliefs. He began thinking that maybe that was something he was lacking. He didn’t believe in anything except fame and fortune and going on to the next thing. Greg was very impatient and had always been like that. He wasn’t the kind of person to wait patiently to see what happened. No, he was the one “creating” his future. Now he was doing the opposite angle.

 Months after arriving in the temple, the Grand Monk called Greg to his room and told him he was ready to go back to the outside world. The young man nodded but then he knelt and asked the old monk to let him stay with them and become a monk like them. He wanted to learn their ways and be calm and a better person.


 But the Grand Monk said that couldn’t be. He had to go back to the outside because he had unresolved business there. Greg had to attend to that and, if he still wanted, he could comeback afterwards and join them. Greg left that same afternoon. He would never come back to the monastery but would always remember what he had learned and try to pass it on.

sábado, 7 de mayo de 2016

Always there

   The two armies had destroyed each other in the field. There were shields and swords and helmets all over the place. The spears had lost all shine and the images on their armors were all tainted in blood or dirt. The ones that were alive from the Barbarian side had been captured. They were dragged like animals to a pen built with the broken spears of the fallen soldiers and there they would wait for some kind of transport to take them away, to being their lives as slaves of the Roman Empire.

 When the soldiers left with their prisoners, the bodies were left to rot on the field. It took several days and the process was somewhat helped by the rain and the occasional wild animals that were still coming out of the forests to attack humans. Desperate for any food, they would eat the corpses, specially the vultures. Months later, the ground only had a bunch of bones there and most people that travelled through the nearby road, never noticed anything particular.

 Many years passed until the Romans stopped travelling through the country. The field was left alone and trees begin to grow, very slowly but steadily. More than a hundred years later, there was a proper forest in that place and many creatures called it home. There were several kinds of creatures, including wolves and boars. They moved around with ease, not minding the few humans that cross the forest, risking their lives in the journey. The ancient Roman road was still being used.

 Then, the numbers of transports passing through the forest begin to grow. Apparently, the economy was beginning to do better and the ports on the south needed to reach the cities in central Europe, to the north. Some merchants carried salt and sugar and exotic good from far away lands. There were no slaves anymore but there were beautiful scents that every creature in the forest was interested in. They had never smelled anything like that before.

 Sometimes, very angry wolves attacked the carts or a hungry bear but that was only at the beginning. After many years, and many fires too, the greatest danger for those merchants were the thieves that hid in the forest. They would live there because in town they had nothing to eat. And then they would wait for a lonely cart full of food and just kill the driver.

 In time, the carts were made more elaborately and the drivers were never alones but with a security composed of one or maybe even two men. Besides, the merchants were not the only ones going through the forest. More and more caravans of just people in carriages penetrated the forest in order to rich the better life of the north. There were rich people and poor people crossing, not one of them caring a bit about the forest.

 One of those men and women caused the biggest fire the forest had seen. As all towns were so far away from the place, the trees burned for many days until rain calmed down the fire. When the inferno was over, half of the forest had completely disappeared. When the users of the road noticed this. They thought they could do better than the fire and decided to chop off all remaining trees in order to use the wood for making many things they needed in the cities.

 The area became a plain again and the road was cleared for the heavy traffic that it was receiving.  Then, for a long while, people stopped travelling. The animals that had left slowly returned, not missing the humans at all. In the nearest town, almost all of the population had died. The ones that hadn’t, burned the bodies and wore strange bird like hats in order to protect themselves from one of the worst pandemics to attack humanity. That’s why, for a long time, the road of the plain was practically not used.

 It would take many years to make the merchants return, to the annoyance of the animals that had seen small bushes and trees grow in the region. The forest wanted to come back but humanity wouldn’t let it. When the carts and carriages returned, they did not removed the new plants but they did reinforce the road by putting down stones on it to make it less slippery when it rained. For the next hundreds of years, the number of transports using the road would only grow.

 Also, the customs of the people that travelled to the road had changed. One day, a beautiful woman travelling in a very elegant carriage, just jumped out of her transport and ran into the highest part of the area. The weather was not good and her brother, younger than her, had some problems following her. She appeared to be an unusually strong woman but, in the top of a hill that dominated the plain, she started crying.

 When her brother approached her, she confessed she did not want to marry the man she had been promised to. She knew her parents had already arrange everything, even paying big sums of money, but she wasn’t into the idea of living with a men she didn’t even know. He had seen her once and she didn’t even remembered her face and now he was going to be her husband. She just didn’t want that.

 Her brother stayed there with her for a while and then convinced her to go back to the carriage. He helped her realized that it was the best thing that could’ve happened to her. She didn’t want to get old and never have been married or having kids. After all, it was what women were all about. She finally conceded and went back to her journey.

 Years later, more soldiers stomped the ground of the plains. They had high black boots and marched in order. It looked so nice, so spectacular, that no one would think twice about the number of people those men had already killed and the numbers they were going to kill. They camped there for one night and all they could talk about was about how great their leader Napoleon was and how Spain needed to fear him more than ever. They all agreed he was going to rule all over the continent and maybe even more.

 The next day, they were gone. The animals ate the food they had left and the plants used the animals and humans droppings to grow a bit more. The following winters, almost all of them, were harsh on the region. Some trees froze and never grew again. The road was covered permanently in snow and the few carriages that passed had to be extremely careful not to flip over to something. Those were very difficult times for everyone. But worse one would come.

 More war and, this time, even more men and chaos. Tanks trampled over the bushes and planes invaded the air with their horrible sound. The town nearby was taken by the Germans and then retaken some days later by Allies who helped push the Germans away from the rest and into their country. It was around that time one a road was built near the stone road. But these new road was made of asphalt and was made for cars.

 At first, there were not many. But as years passed, the number increased exponentially. There were all types of vehicles going up and down the road and also all kinds of people. Some of them were going of vacation and some others were only travelling for work. Some years later, the road was widened to support even more vehicles.

 World War II began and the road itself was bombarded several times when the Germans took the region. Some men and women, very pale and skinny, used the forest to hide. Some of them managed to escape the Germans but others weren’t as fortunate. They were put on cars and driven to the nearest train station and then they would never be seen again.

 Many months later the place was bombarded again, but now by the Allies. In a few days, the whole region was captured and the Germans pulled away from it. From then on, the road grew even more and became the basic link between north and south. The forest also began to grow a lot and soon became protected by the same humans that had destroyed so many times before. The animals now lived in peace and, only now and then, something happened in there but never like in the olden days.


 But who knows what the future holds?

viernes, 22 de abril de 2016

Notice

   I took my shoes off on the wooden walkway, as well as my socks, which I put inside the shoes. I stared at the ocean for a while before I realized I was alone and it was no surprise: a very cold breeze was blowing that day and there was no way someone would choose that time of day to go around and have a stroll by the ocean. Well, except me of course. I stepped on the sand and was surprised to feel it very cold and humid, contrary to all my other experiences at beaches. That sounds odd but the point is I had never been in a “cold beach”.

 I walked slowly towards the ocean. Mid way between the end of the walkway and the water, there was a big rock the appeared to emerge from the deepest parts of the Earth. I left my shoes on it and took a couple of seconds to raise my jeans as high as I could in order not to get them wet. Minutes later, I was in the water, enjoying the wind and the sound of the ocean crashing and forming foam all around me. Somehow, I felt free and better than ever.

 I stopped being alone after a while, when several seagulls landed near the rock and started poking the ground for food. I was surprised to see that one of them was able to pull a crab as big as my fist from the ground and then another one did the same. And then maybe the biggest bird of them all decided that my shoes were food or maybe my socks.

 I saw the bird exploring it all with its beak and I had to run like crazy back to the rock to scare the bird away. I always couldn’t do it because the seagull was not impressed by me running towards it. I had to scream and open my arms, as wings in order for it to release it just couldn’t win. It finally took off and I was able to grab my shoes but, as I pulled out both socks to see it the bird had damaged them, I felt a severe pain.

 Birds are not as stupid as we think. As it happened, there was a small crab inside my shoe. It must have gotten inside of it when I decided to go and soak my feet into the water. It had closed its larger pincer on one of my fingers and I had to shake my hand real hard until it released me. It fell to the ground and I hoped the big seagull would eat it. My finger had a deep cut and that ended my time on the beach.

 With my other hand, I put the socks on my pocket and when I reached the walkway I put on the shoes with no socks on. It wasn’t the best way to go but I just wanted to go back to where I was staying and cure my finger. It wasn’t a long walk, as the small bed & breakfast was on what they called the waterfront, even if the beach could not be seen from the rooms. I felt the blood dripping but didn’t mind at all.

 I asked for my key in the reception and once I had gotten into my room, I checked the front pocket of the bag I had brought and pulled out a Band-Aid. Then, I went out to the bathroom and cleaned my finger under the sink. It hurt but the blood worried me a bit more because it looked darker than usual. I tried to think about what I had eaten recently but couldn’t really remember eating something strange that would cause such a strange reaction.

 When I was finished, I put on the Band-Aid and went back to my room. I decided to stay there for the rest of the day and just be safe away from any crazy injuries. And then I removed my shoes and realized one of my feet hurt. I had a blister on my heel, probably because I had worn my shoes with no socks. My feet were really sensitive so I decided no to touch it too much and just rest my feet, my hands and everything in that room.

 Minutes afterwards, rain started pounding against the window’s glass. I had started reading a book I had brought but I had deceived myself again, because I couldn’t go beyond page five. I just read the same words, again and again, and decided to leave the book and just try to have a nap. After all, there was still light outside. So I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but just couldn’t. My finger felt as if it was pumping an amazing amount of blood and my foot hurt a bit if I moved. I felt so stupid and silly, being there just doing nothing.

 But I knew I wasn’t the kind of person to have adventures every four seconds like other people. I had discovered, through friends, that people normally lied about that so I felt less self-conscious, but I knew that somewhere, some person was actually having a lot of fun and just enjoying life. I was the kind of person that couldn’t walk without getting blisters or attacked by birds. Other people had no idea what that was like.

 It was after thinking all of these things that I felt asleep and did so for about two hours. I had no dreams but rather a really calm sleep. So calm in fact, that I woke up exactly in the same position I had fallen asleep in. That never happened at home anywhere.

 I decided to put some thick socks, the shoes and try to see more of the small town before I had to leave in two days. I had found about it when booking my holidays and decided that, after getting to know a large city, I also wanted to get lost in some small town when I just could feel that I was discovering a brand new world every single day. I had lived that many years ago and just wanted to have that feeling back with me. Besides, I was tired of cities and their people. I needed a change.

 I stepped out of the hotel, having left my key again with the receptionist who would always be on the phone or playing with her cellphone. I didn’t have my cellphone with my, on purpose. The first reason was that it didn’t work on the country and the second reason was that I did not want any distractions from my normal walk. I just wanted to open my eyes and look at people and their normal environment and whatever that part of the world had to offer.

 The town’s main square was located just ten minutes away by walking and I could tell it was a lively day for the town. There were more people that I could have imagined and many nice shops and tents all over were vendors would sell local products, mainly made from oatmeal and wild flowers and lemons. They even sold fish in some of them and the smell made me feel better, even if I didn’t really like fish.

 I went all around the market and then realized that people, some people at least, were looking at me. They seem to point and then hush and then be on their way and that for me was very strange. Back in the city I had visited earlier that week, not one person had ever acknowledged my presence except the ticket vendors in museums and waiters. I even had to yell a lot in a restaurant to get some service. But something was weird in that small town.

 Or maybe, I thought, I was imagining it all. Maybe I just wanted to be seen or something and was putting all of that inside my head and trying for it to be part of the world. So I ignored it all and kept on moving. Sure enough, being almost 8PM, I decided to have something small to eat and some hot beverage with eat in a nice pastry shop with terrace, on the main square. As I sat down, a very nice waiter came and took my order and complimented me on my hair.

 I almost laugh but didn’t because he seemed honest. He came back very fast with a cup of hot tea with sugar and lemon and some complimentary cookies. I also asked for a ham and cheese sandwich and just ate and drink as I saw the people move all around. Again, I felt people looking at me and little kids would wave and make faces to me. And by the end of the evening, I got used to it.


 When I went back to my hotel, I was able to sleep nicely and, after showering with hot water; I decided to make my last day in the village count. I would fish and eat something great, and walk to one of the lavender fields and maybe even get into one of those farm tours and milk a cow or something. I just felt people saw me and I wanted to be a part of anything that happened there. I guess I wanted to thank them, somehow.