Saturday, August 4, 2012


The day was going from one largest "of" to the next... one of the longest lava tubes, the longest? stone maze, the oldest tree on jeju, the biggest nutmeg tree in the world etc... the lava tube- was made yes, by lava cutting through the earth- discovered in 1947 by a school teacher collecting plants. It's massive and vast- and so very evocative. The whole day- evocative of mystery, of discovery, of wandering, of exploration and beauty. The caves a constant cold temperature, with intermittent drips falling from the ceiling at times you feel swallowed up, part of a government conspiracy, an apocalyptic society of survivors, of a dry and vast river with human fish cutting past you in the current. You ache as you hit the end and see the tunnel alluringly keeps going on though the walkway does  not. You have to watch your steps back over the uneven surface now that you are chilled you glance up frequently but can no longer stop and continue to gaze at each breathtaking surreal step of something that hardly seems real. Down to the dark volcanic rock looking like wet clay or the earthy colored and iron rusted top crust of the ceiling looking fragile and hollowed, to the grooves cut and left by intense repeditive movement. You emerge and hit the wave of humidity and heat rising against you with force. There is an audible murmur of surprise but you continue to climb up up up and out. There is something left with you like wanting to stay down there forever but understanding the inhospitable and impractical nature of living down in the dark at such a depth. You can't linger. But you want to come back.

The next place, mazeland- is made of three elements that jeju is most plentiful in- women, wind and stone. This is where i found out the one girl didn't like mazes and seemed alienated from the experience. She didn't tell me, until we were in the first- thinking that it was absurd to be lost in a place like a game and to try to find your way out. As if there should be some point or how it might  be different if there was some object or team... When people are like this in an activity or something you really enjoy you become how shall i put it.. resentful? as they become increasingly less helpful, more disconnected... to me i find mazes a fascinating enterprise in group dynamics. How impatient, leaderless, upset, competitive... i found Meg to be encouraging though wry and Dandelion to be like an altered personality so much that i rambled on about battlestar galatica and that scene where that one guy finds out the girl he loves is like an evil clone of someone who is someone who is someone. Why did you come!? Why didn't you say, hey not into it. But anyway we didnt have the strength to complete the 3rd as they both were underhydrated and weren't using their umbrellas to shield themselves as i constantly was- having learned my lesson from nearly dying the day before-- so we never completed the wilds of the women's maze. And the wind one, was peaceful and calming and circle shaped in a traditional cretian? form- where the stone one, the element i most related to had me thinking of david bowie and small talking worms and seemed more magical, less ethereal. The girl in me was positively thrilled and thought that her fun had been dangerously close to being spoiled. She thinks to herself- i'll come back without them. Another day and wander and imagine without them... she emerges from the place feeling satisfied but also like so little of the place was explored.

The third place was the nutmeg forest.  Where each of us had our own test of will and of spiritual something or other. The other two both seemed to think the buses had stopped running and that they weren't sure how we'd get home but they both kept walking. I didn't try to say they were wrong- i just thought oh... so? what should we do. But we kept walking. On down the road and into the forest. No one mentioned the sun setting or the prudency of entering the forest near to closing time. (apparently already after closing? according to the website). But that's thing. It was like it was meant entirely for us. The ticket lady took our money and let us wander off. Anyway at the entrance into the heart of the wander- We saw a woman washing her feet and it seemed something to be done. This walking barefoot across the beneficial red volcanic rock. So we did. It made the journey slow but we constantly glanced with wonder at the dappled sunlight cutting through the trees and the slight breeze. The sounds and the quiet. The intimacy of the road as the last of the people trailed out as we pressed deeper in. It was serene. None of us seemed to be saying we should turn back. So on the last portion when the stones became really big we still went on, in pain personally- but like something i had been mentally preparing myself for since I got here and decided to start stone walking (as they're in all the parks and resting places as a meditation and as a healing aid). Megs at one point said as she blithely numb to the pain due to high tolerance? or deadened nerves that I could just put my shoes back on. I took that as a challenge and only as we were 1/2 way in glanced at the time and how the sun had set and that we were losing light fast... but none of us put our shoes on. We all kept walking. I decided as i had some choice words to say at some sharper points that hit my feet that instead of just expressing this pain, as in life, i should give it to God and talk to Him about it. And that as we traverse as we traversed the cave- It was impossible not to keep your feet and eyes on the road bcs of the uneven surfaces. It made it impossible to consume the space unless you stopped. You couldn't just stroll through- it became a testament to a life lived not consuming idlly but purposefully pursuing something in the midst of both pain and pleasure. Glancing up and stopping because i needed relief and the trees some 100's of years old standing there fixed and timeless or a testament to life, and then glancing back down and trying to pick the smoothest path possible but still feeling every thing under your feet and enduring. So that by the time we reached the 800 year old tree. The oldest one on the island it was shrouded in dark, and seemed for such a time to be lost and searching and wondering- perfect to not be able to see it all- in its starkness- and because our journey wasn't over we could hardly stop to relish in it or contemplate it. This is where we finally put our shoes back on. I never moved so fast. I bolted past the two others. I felt light and free and unencumbered. And there was such a peace and sense of knowing and being as we finally arrived to an abandoned parking lot in the now dead of night.

Still- how to get home. The other two i dont know- what they wanted- it got weird. Whatever was in the forest seemed over or separate from the reality they experienced there where as i saw it as a continuation- that is the critical thing- the peace, the message, translated over to me- but for them reality came crashing- they had places to be, things to do, and i only saw a few options- sleeping in the forest, getting a taxi or getting rescued... and they felt suddenly burdensome, and stupid foreignerish, and foolish and irresponsible and while i felt- vaguely like i shouldve known better - i didn't. That this happens to us whereever we are in the world trying something new and risking... And found it impossible for me to feel at all bad for where we were since i felt with assurity that we would be able to get ourselves out. I wasn't phased.

But as you know when ones panic rises and the other calm meets it there is a clash... as I resented D for being remote in the maze or how as we walked out the heat was thick and shocking to the icy cold and quiet... we stood at polar opposites and i tried to reconcile the gap perhaps foolishly to get them to speak the same language i was experiencing but it wasn't translating. I came off careless and glib and unfeeling. This is where after all the mazes we wandered through, it finally broke us- the test- i came out carrying what i'd learned? maybe arrogant to state but we can't blog forever- maybe if i wrote it out more-- but they ate it and compartmentalized it. This wasn't a maze. This was life. This wasn't spiritual this was practical. It was serious. It could've been avoided. Shame on you. Shame on me. Shame on us.

I suppose if this were an imaginary story this is where i dissolve into the forest to go live and they cease to see the forest? It is as J said, very prince caspian... she related it to a story she is living but i see the parallel. Some people don't see the way out. They don't see Aslan. They wander lost and frustated and try to do life perfectly. They think it's them who is working out and solving everything... and so failure hits them more deeply and pride comes up. They don't see it though- so anyway, we were at a community center, there were lights and helpful young adults who were like WTF foreigners!?. A girl said a taxi wouldn't come. I didn't believe her.  If there is money i said to the very anxious M and to the grim D, they will come. A bit later a boy called and said a taxi would come... We were rescued some 30minutes later. It only cost us 5won each. (under $5) I said, God showed me how safe i was today. D laughed. Unkindly. As if i was mocking or ambivilant to the peril... but We caught the last bus into town ($1). And we got back to "reality" at 10pm after having some dessert at the beach convinience store and then found the lighthouse restaurant oddly closed. I went to bed hungry and D and i got into a fight which she didn't think was a fight and didn't really think she was mad that we might as well have been experiencing two seperate realities which we're still experiencing. It's my fault for emailing her back and cutting when i shouldve just capitulated... and then Megs brought me food. And i skyped and chatted and processed about the alienating differences and the aura of some spiritual transaction occuring. Of course we all want to go back there- or at least D does and I do. But I dont know if i would do it differently. She would- different people, better planned, on her terms. And now thinks she wants nothing to do with me. But either way it won't be the same. I still think... hmm, something happened out there. I wonder exactly what it was. But something broke btw friends. Something was mended. Other things fortified. A mixed bag but i suppose for my soul- transcendent.

(from the nutmeg forest)
(ok really i'm going to go get conveyor belt sushi)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the adventure.

.... somebody's mom