“Spirit is the life that itself strikes into life: through its own torment it increases its own knowledge.” – Zarathustra
When we arrived, the days were long and slow, so much was still unknown. As night and day pass, we think we gain control. Our perspective continues to grow. We easily fall custom to new routine and find new comforts as our bodies grow lean. The land I see no longer feels so foreign. I watch overhead. New questions are posed but slowly we gain control without control. I cannot help but fear the depth will slowly grow shallow.
Knowing that I have another home, seeing it through my memories and dreams, it all distances me from what lies before blind eyes. I am as hard as a stone, I compete with my strength, and critiquing myself is a constant state. I desire to remove the weight, not the strength, and let the current flow, carrying me under, over, and out to sea. Every day I crave to climb mountains seen and forseen, off in the distance, they are waiting for me, but they remain out of reach. Their peaks are high and my legs are too soft. I desire the challenge with the weight of what I dream.
Words will only voice our struggles. Beyond words, there might be something but to speak of what it is, is a struggle. Stillness speaks but only through movement is it heard. Through reading and writing, flashes of wisdom, insight, only do they exist beyond the words. I am honest with myself, letting the peaceful warrior be heard. I read, finding a tone sown to new stirs. Lost in words, I forget, I am starving! Let it be heard!
“Wisdom… she is a woman and never loves anyone but a warrior.” – Zarathustra
The community watches over those who remain within. When the individual falls behind, the community is quick to respond, supporting those in need. But the individual interested in a selfish dream quickly loses respect, and his heart now hidden, goes unseen. The individual rarely, and momentarily, walks ahead. The individual, who strives ahead, is not one who does so alone. Without the support provided, he would have never come to know you cannot move ahead without support from home. The individual longs for companions and the feeling of a whole. Without he will never learn and grow.
We arrived as friends and our bonds have grown. We are individuals who have formed a community, and a community within a community. There are moments of separation but to disconnect and reconnect has only made us stronger. When we suffer together, we see both good and bad. Intentionally and unintentionally, we combine and collide. Our moods tug on both sides. When an individual falls back, we follow, reestablishing the line. We support each other, for our turn will come, when we stand alone and again must learn to see as one.
“Your heart should feel closest to him when you oppose him.” - Zarathustra
Attached to the art of thought, a friend contradicts through love, for without the contradiction we would fail to see what is shared between. Fearing what is said is an opportunity to learn from the unknown. What is said is never permanent; it is there to bring a new, but when conceived as true, I lose something of you, so do I speak now or wait for silence? Which will bring us through? What is here between? A settlement to agree or a battle through the sea?
“The world is deep... Not everything may be spoken in the presence of the day.” - Zarathustra
This fight is not between you and me; it hangs above us. We fail to see and the struggle of every dream. I am unable to show you the silence of the night. Your mouth bursts with random words; I am unable to avoid the sight. I do not want to disturb the other sleepers or wake them with unnecessary waking thoughts. Let them sleep, deep in their peace, waiting for silence. I try to listen, too loud and too soft, and all is lost when morning comes.
“The highest must arise to its height from the deepest” - Zarathustra
I awake in the new day and wander through the community and up the hillside. I pass the early workers who all greet me with a smile. The storm has settled and everyone seems pleased there is no rain. I watch the sun rise, and although the clouds are still overhead, I can make out the bright colors between there gloomy sight. I smile and laugh. The weight they carry makes us stronger. When I return home we are again united and we prepare for the new day with new spirit and hunger.
“Take care not to spit against the wind.” - Zarathustra
“We aeronauts of the spirit! All those brave birds which fly out into the distance, into the farthest distance – it is certain! Somewhere or other they will be unable to go on and will perch down on a mast or a bare cliff-face… But who could venture to infer from them that, that there was not an immense open space before them, that they had flown as far as one could fly! All our great teachers and predecessors have at last come to a stop… Other birds will fly farther! This insight and faith of our vies with them in flying up and away, it rises above our heads and above our impotence into the heights and from there surveys the distance and sees before it the flocks of birds which, far stronger than we, still strive wither we have striven, and where everything is sea, sea, sea!” – Dawn
I am confident that we will come back with a greater knowledge of our research but I feel there is no end to our findings. We are learning something new every day and it inspires me to continue to search and never settle with what I know now, but apply and share what I can, when I can. Every experience and every member, within Peña Blanca alone, has thus far left an impression on me, and I can´t help but imagine the billions of people living diverse lives in similar, or worse, conditions. My curiosity is already asking what solutions and strategies, both formal and informal, others have found when I am only peeling back the initial layer of that which stands before me.
My wandering mind now attracts the unknown, the weight of the world and the cries of those who carry it. Others have taken the initiative. It is important that we make the effort and venture out from the norm to bring back and share the knowledge and experiences available to us, perpetuating the cycle and continuing the search. Every adventure inspires the next, and in the end, I believe that if we find ourselves without the answers we seek, there will be new questions that will drive us deeper into the heart of our endeavors, a new beginning now stirs.
"Perhaps it´s not possible to solve the problem entirely.” – Rigoberta Menchú
No solutions are permanent, but we have been successful in finding those that apply today. We are finding inspiring stories of individual struggle, people who are finding microfinance a reliable instrument for getting back on their feet. Yesterday, Zach and Chris ventured out to Tierra Linda, without the cameras, to select microfinance borrowers willing to answer questions over the course of the next month and a half. Tierra Linda was recently hit with mudslides, and it was inspiring to have made some progress in our research to those who needed the services the most, to hear a bit of their stories, and to begin unpacking the importance of microfinance and its local benefits.
“All good you do must come from your own initiative.” – Popul Vuh
Where am I? Am I not in Guatemala? Have I gone insane? This is a revelation. I am not in a familiar world. I look to my hands and see them as a waving mirage. Am I dreaming? Somehow I find control. Am I in control of my dreams? I awake with shivers down my spine. I had a dream, others walked with empty souls, and I chose to be, control without control. I find myself trying seeking consciousness in dreams but often when awake I have the desire to create through instinct and intuition. I strive for what I cannot have. I chase what is always out of reach. The struggle always seems to worth it in the end but the end is only another beginning.
“Your thoughts are not your experiences; they are an echo and after-effect of your experiences.” – Zarathustra
We are without unnecessary wants and desires and the longer we are without them, the further we separate ourselves from the routine thoughts that give them their power. We begin to see more clearly necessary needs, not getting lost in those thoughts that influence false desires. Slowly we are peeling off layers and finding the deepest of them, one we will never lose, to experience the will of desire.
“In the field I have almost everything still to learn” – Dawn
Sensory details give rise to wisdom as space leads to insight. I am making more and more connections between now and past travel experiences. Not in words but in moments of déjà vu. My mind finds rest. An opportunity to ask questions about the self and the other. What is necessary action? What do we make of it? What we value? What they value? How do we interpret this value? Where has our influence come from? Are we here for ourselves or are we here for them? Intruders or supporters? We act to the best of our abilities. We act on what we know, what we believe, and what we search for.
"Learning is difficult, but you do it and you learn." - Rigoberta Menchú
I am learning with experience and reflection. Learning has been difficult because there is so much more to learn. Between the people and the land, I am finding myself once again, a drift the infinite, steered by a current. I believe the deeper we go, the stronger our roots grow, and the further I stretch myself, the more I overcome the need to rely on the comforts of home. I am finding myself a gaze into the abyss, the limitless and the possible, stumbling upon what is known only through separation from home. The details are beyond reason, known only to my senses. They remind me of myself once before. How will we capture this on film? I am in search of a means to share, a balance between research and motion, awaiting as stirred.
"We have to erase the barriers" - Rigoberta Menchú
The whistling boy, he watches me from the bridge, making calls as I tend to the fire, cooking rice and beans. I stop and stare. He continues his. I go back to work. A moments pass. His call now comes from the top of the path. He sits there starring back in the opening, calling once again. I whistle back. Again, he disappears. Back to work, I now chop some wood. I build the fire, giving it my air. The whistle is back, the boy now standing there, on a ledge behind, crouched in his stare. He speaks to me in Spanish, not his native tongue, but I still don´t understand. I attempt to tell him I am a student, learning, but he only stares. I whistle. He whistles and laughs, we share wind without words. He watches for awhile, as I tend to the fire once more. He whistles one last time. I look up. He is waving. I say 'adios' and he's gone. I open my notebook, his whistle echoing as I stare.
Don Augustine is the father of the family letting us rent a roof on their land. He has many children who, almost every night, have gathered around our home listening and watching four foreigners attempt to cook over an open fire. They have never once had outsiders stay in their village, let alone work in their fields. They are intrigued in our presence as we are in theirs. One of the older sons only speaks Cakchiquel, as Sean and I only speak English. Between us we watch Chris, Zach, and Don Augustine speak Spanish as a medium, crossing barriers, connecting our two cultures through words. I find myself content with laughter and good company, but there remains a growing desire to share words. I am left wondering if they share this desire, and how mediums can change our two worlds.
"You must always know how to give." - Rigoberta Menchú
We are unsure of how to go about accepting gifts, as our research can be easily influenced by the necessities we find ourselves without. We have been very conscious about how we give back, assuring that we are not takers, but givers as well as receivers. This process has only brought us closer. Two days ago we gave one of Don Augustine´s sons a box of crayons from home, as thanks for his assistance in our process of establishment. To see his reaction tugged on all our hearts. Since, we have shared more words, stories, experiences, and labor. Our relationships are only growing.
"He who has no children thinks only of himself" - Rigoberta Menchú
A man from the streets asks the white kids for money. A lonely farmer asks the white kids for free labor. He does his work alone. He has no wife, no children. He has removed himself from the culture, the community, and can receive no loans. Loans are only given to women; women in this culture are more respected and trusted than the men; they decide how the money is spent in the household and what needs to be bought in town, going themselves or instructing others what to buy. Those lonely men who beg run low on strength. They lack the humble spirit found in those who stand on the same soil. They fail to listen to the wisdom of their ancestors. They know only how to take and not to give. We are told these men have little support from others because they are known to spend the little they have on booze and pleasure. They take what they can, what might be free if they beg. What will he learn if we give him what he wants? By not giving, are we giving him more?
"That night he spent howling like a coyote while he slept as a person. To become animal, without ceasing to be a person. Animal and person coexist in them through the will of their progenitors at birth." - Men of Maize
I am falling past, words in red letters, built like statements, rise and pass as I fall further into the abyss, but I cannot read them; they have no meaning, only brief moments of presence, like many of my dreams, exploring the unknown, the sub-conscious, now being presented more frequently with a mind that seeks answers to the questions brought out in the light of day, wishing I could capture them on film, watch my dreams over, but that will only detract from their mysterious value, and I am left wishing I could sense their soft whisper. I know those who appear in my dreams, who I don´t hear or see from where I stand. I feel momentarily connected through an indescribable realm. I can feel the presence of their thoughts and mine, entwined, and tied by strings of the dreams that pass through the mind. In an instant, I feel connected to those I miss and I see those who miss me. The moment passes, and I am alone, for they are not here but there within a memory.
With and without words. I´m finding myself more without. Listening to Chris and Zach communicate is inspiring to learn the language, to cross cultural bounds and to make necessary connections, but how far does this get us? Five of the women in the village we arranged to stay speak Spanish. The others speak their native dialect, one of many of Mayan descent. I feel as though the silent observer and I can´t help but hold a smile. All is somehow new and the same, language both the barrier and the connection. I want to explain myself but my want subsides and for now I can only attempt to listen. I rely on what I see and feel, what appears before and stirs within.
All is well. We are healthy thus far. I think last night was the best and one of the most interesting nights I´ve had all year. It seems the break from routine has opened a hole from which dreams fall through.
At this point in the trip, I am left with only more questions. We are two days in, finishing our arrangements and preperations for the many weeks ahead of us. I am excited to uncover the story as it goes.
I am currently 21 and finishing my first quarter at Western Washington University. I am an undergraduate student studying 'Critical Theory' through English and Philosophy. Prior to enrollment, I studied film production at Northwest Film School and earned an associate's degree at Whatcom Community College with transferred credits from Loyola Marymount University and from Portland State University through Carpe Diem International.
In between Los Angeles and my return to the Northwest, I traveled twice to the South Pacific, once to New Zealand for a month, and then again to Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand for three-months. The first trip, I studied New Zealand film and the history and culture of the Maori people. The second trip, I backpacked with a small group of students working on a variety of community and environmental service projects and we were involved in leadership and outdoor training. I was taught of the native Fijian, Maori, and Aboriginal cultures through first hand experiences, and in some cases, I found myself living among them, working together on community projects and participating in their cultural traditions. More recently I was fortunate enough to continue north and experienced Indonesian culture first hand last winter through my parent's private business that works to support local art from Java, Sumatra, Bali, Sumba, and Timor.
With every experience, I am increasingly inspired by the variety of cultural and historical values encountered. I often find myself in a deep reflection of my own. Every time I return home, I am compelled to find new ways to share such experiences, working towards capturing stories and moments when the opportunities present themselves. In response to such inspirational stirs of thought, I began looking to film and literature to provide a new insight into my greatest desires, to be in a constant state of reevaluating the world and to provide necessary assistance where and when appropriate. Since then, I have been working to make myself available to opportunities such as this.
This project presented itself to me a few months ago. There was no hesitation in my response when I was asked to join. I know both Zach and Sean from high school and I have briefly met Chris. I have not been to South America and I only speak a little Spanish, but I am confident the group's skills and experiences will balance out.
My personal life consists primarily of playing music, making short films, and exploring new mediums of art. I enjoy reading both modern and classical literature, listening to live music, watching movies, and exploring the great northwest.
I am grateful for the support going into this project and I feel very fortunate to be a part.