I wrote much of this post on a piece of paper while on a train back from Assisi
“I have spent day 77 in solitude and silence.
It was not difficult to pull off, since much of Assisi was empty on a Wednesday in winter. While this was not originally a plan of mine, it led to a set of wonderful experiences and revelations – a vacation from my vacation so to speak.
Something I have mentioned before keeps reaffirming its truth to me on this trip: the idea that wherever one is, whatever the circumstance, one is exactly where one ‘ought to be’. Please do not confuse this with some sort of ‘best of all possible world’ scenarios which was so lovingly scorned by the renowned Voltaire; I merely mean that every experience allows learning and growth, a sort of refinement… Perhaps continuing in anecdotal form would serve a better explanation.
– the 9k hike from the station to the cave of St Francis was up a mountain and at times in the snow, but the solitude and simplicity of the task caused the time to pass quickly. I turned it into a 2 hour Jappa Walk (David Todd, I hope someday you read that).
– Twice I felt a bit lost, because there were no other people and no signs, only forest. The first time I felt lost, a bar manifested out of nowhere in the middle of the mountain within a minute of my thinking ‘I need help’. I walked in, an simply said ‘San Francesco’, to which the bartender lady and 2 construction workers responded with great enthusiasm. They directed me immediately, and I smiled and continued onward. The second time I felt lost, within a minute I saw a Franciscan monk drive by in a car, and pull into Erme delle Carceri: apparently I had arrived at my destination.
– I mentioned before, I didnt intend for today to be so solitary, but it was probably the best possible way to experience Assisi. I had wonderful meditations inside caves, outside caves, in churches, on fountains, basically everywhere. At one point on the side of the mountain, I received particular reassurance from the Universe that I really didnt need to come to a specific spot to have a good meditation; the whole mountain is an altar, in fact the entire universe itself possesses equal quality. I can have these feelings everywhere, I suppose I never stop enough to appreciate.
As I continue to describe the day, I am increasingly reminded of Lao Tzu’s “those who speak do not know, and those who know do not speak.” I’ve now found that once in the silence I am very reluctant to leave it. So I simply urge the rest of you to try a day of introspection (preferably in solitude) sometime and see what I am failing to properly convey for yourself. I will leave you with the less heavy/dense events of the past hour:
Waiting for my train I realized the only place warm next to the station was a bar, so reluctantly I walked in to keep from shivering. As it turns out Seongnam was playing Inter Milan on the TV, and the room was full of incredibly passionate Italian football fans. What makes this significant to me? The previous day I had expressed to David my disappointment that I would not get to see an Inter game amidst the Italians this trip because they were not playing nearby and even if they were, I couldn’t afford tickets. But now in some strange way, my desire is sort of fulfilled by mere chance. You have my appreciation, Universe…