Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Into Ukraine

(Better late than never)

In this beard, I'll use my Facebook update format to talk about a variety of topics that are basically unrelated to each other. readygo

I. I spent nearly three weeks in Kaunas, Lithuania. That was longer than I intended, and indeed, a little too long. (Getting sick didn't help.) Because I sat around for a little too long, I started to get mopey and dissatisfied.  Luckily, the cure for that situation is simple: get on the bike and ride.

II. A couple days on a bike -- hell, even one day -- is enough to completely reset my clock. Which is kind of funny to say, since twice since leaving Kaunas, I have crossed time zones without realizing it. But what I meant by that phrase is that when riding, I get back to the present, and past worries kind of fade, and the future becomes a thing of unknowable possibilities that don't seem particularly threatening.  It's an amazing way to feel.

I get back on the internet after a few days of that, and I see that people have tagged  me in photos from less than a week ago, and I think, "Damn, I was there?  That only just happened? People still care?" The things I did seem so far away and unimportant. Which is not to say that they were unimportant. They just don't matter anymore, now, presently, here-and-now, etc. etc.

III. God damn it is radical to be in Ukraine. This is the furthest I have been from home, culturally. It's still European, definitely, but something about it feels different. It could just be my prejudices. At any rate, it does feels different, and the thing about coming to a place that feels so different is that it just makes me want to keep going. How else will things change?  What other ways will I be exposed to my own prejudices, my own ingrained mores, and my own internalized beliefs?

IV. The rest of this draft went off on a ridiculous tangent concerning tents and blizzards and bugs. I'm not gonna say it was not worth reading, but I will say it doesn't belong in this particular beard.

Which, incidentally, has now been stewing for two whole months! Time to publish, baby!

V. One last thing. It did, indeed, feel pretty radical to enter Ukraine. Now I'm a little burnt out. I just spent ten minutes trying to describe my impressions, but failed. The fact is that I'm more prone to emotion than to logic, and anything I would say would be easily refutable.

Well, I can say this: I think the language barrier is making life pretty tough. I just don't even try to interact with people. If I had time to get more Russian proficiency, my attitude might change a lot! For now, though, I've just buried my nose in my programming projects and started counting down the days till I hit the road again.

It will be interesting to get some perspective.