Sometimes you start something for one reason, usually a simple and benign one, such as jogging to "get in shape," or conversely, lighting that first cigarette in a purely social setting. If you stick with whatever it is you started and as your involvement increases--through the passage of time, level of intensity, or perhaps both--entirely new dimensions you could have never anticipated beforehand reveal themselves to you.
In the case of our jogger, the release of endorphins or "runner's high" can provide untold enhancement to the activity far beyond the original expectation. And our smoker in all likelihood wasn't thinking, "I'm planning to get hopelessly addicted to this known carcinogen" when taking that first puff. In both examples there is extensive knowledge about these subjects that one can research, but that would be akin to reading about Napa Valley instead of actually driving through the countryside and tasting the wine. There is no substitute in many cases for direct experience.
We arrived in Cuenca for simple straightforward reasons (excellent weather, low cost of living------) that I have described in previous entries. Yet after only one month here I'm beginning to get a sense that life is going to be different than I could have ever imagined. Not simply the misadventures of a gringo living in an Hispanic country with different foods, language challenges, and cultural peculiarities--kind of a "Lost in Translation Part II," if you will. Those are coarse, broad brushstroke issues that one would be remiss NOT to anticipate.
No, I'm referring to something more nuanced, more delicate. It would never have occurred to me prior to our arrival, but I'm beginning to get a sense it is possible to fundamentally change the way life itself is experienced. And not just temporarily, as would be the case after the ingestion of mind-altering chemicals.
A fish spends its whole life unaware that there is air just beyond the surface of the water. So too it appears that we humans can become so focused on thrashing about in the swiftly moving current of our daily existence that we forget about the possibility of relaxing and allowing that same current we have been fighting to effortlessly carry us downstream.
Specifically I am developing a entirely new relationship with time. Time is something we take for granted as the so-called 4th dimension, and we assume that it is as rigidly measurable as its height, width, and depth brethren. Yet we've all experienced stifling boredom in which time seems to drag as well as engaging activities when hours have passed in what felt like minutes. So there is an awareness that time is more fluid than it might appear when we're watching seconds tick by on a watch.
In the life we left behind clocks and calendars were the hub of our existence---time to get up---need to leave now to beat that traffic---time for lunch---time to go home--when will dinner be ready---is it time for that TV show to start---time for bed---I never have enough time to get everything done.
Here (and this isn't at all a Cuenca thing, simply the way each day unfolds) life itself is becoming that hub and time is merely one of the spokes, a tool instead of the toolbox. As impossible as I know it seems to weary Western eyes reading this, unless there is an appointment or social engagement it really doesn't matter what time or even what day it is.
I'm learning that when life is just allowed to be, moment by moment, freed from the shackles imposed by schedules and deadlines, it dons a cloak of texture and beauty beyond the confines of language. Each day is so rich, so full of, of-------life.
So, yes, we came for the weather, low cost of living, and probably a desire to have more adventure in our lives. Again, we've only been here a month. The polls have just closed and it's too early to predict the results. But early indications are we've stumbled upon an opportunity to unexpectedly have more life in our lives as well.
And for this we are extremely blessed.