“I was a free man in Paris, I felt unfetterred and alive, no one calling me up for favors, and no one’s future to decide.”
–Joni Mitchell, “Free Man in Paris”
Buenos Aires, December 3
Today is my fiftieth birthday. It is a good feeling to be here and a very good time to look back at what I have accomplished during the past four months.
I have broken my writer’s block. I have become the main character in my own non-fiction novel. Some of the posts have written themselves. Living in the moment, each day becomes a new short story or a new piece of ironic humor.
As an outsider who couldn’t communicate verbally, I have found a whole new connection with the visual aspects of life and this has changed my writing and photography. (I believe for the better.)
I have developed a new respect for the value of taking risks. Not only was this project conceived quickly, it is set in a place I’ve never been, where I know no one, and I don’t speak the language. In some ways I am disappointed that I couldn’t learn to speak better and that I didn’t make more local friends during this trip. However, it took bold action to sweep away the heavy blocks that have kept me from my authentic self. I conceived and worked out the logistics for this entire project in about a month. I had no idea whether I would be able to do it or be able to write about it. With the severe downturn in the economy, I didn’t know if I should move forward at all.
Seeing the project through on this first leg has been the greatest lesson. I have been tangled up more times that I can count and I have just just tangoed on. Despite overwhelming doubts, occasional loneliness, almost daily confusion, frustrations, and mistakes, I continue to look forward. I haven’t had the encouragement or the will to do enough of this in my life, and I am happy that I have been able to break not only my writer’s block, but also my hesitancy about taking risks and trying new things.
I have also found through interaction with my readers and lots of thinking about identity, that I am living a number of interconnected lives:
1.) The life of my imagination.
2.) The life people imagine I have.
3.) The life I actually lead.
4.) The life I would like to lead.
5.) The life I report.
I celebrated my birthday by giving myself two-months of self-improvement, self-confidence, self-reliance and self-knowledge. I have been very gratified that I have had smart and perceptive readers who understand what I am doing and who have enjoyed the ride so far.
From 5,000 miles away, the struggles that seemed to dominate my life at home now have their proper place. I have been out of the country for Halloween, Election Day, Thanksgiving and my birthday. One friend wrote that “I’ve noticed a shift in the way you view the world. It seems much bigger and brighter with less cause for negativity.”
I will return to Buenos Aires early next year and I will continue my study of Tango and Spanish. I hope to use some of the lessons I’ve learned to make my next journey better.
I am taking a pause from blogging. I hope to spend a bit more time looking around Buenos Aires, and then I will go home where friends and family await. When I get home, I will determine what my next step will be. I have a couple of other creative projects I am going to work on and I will begin to plan my next journey back to Buenos Aires. In January, I will redesign this web page and redirect it to its own “justtangoon.com” address.
Chapter Two will begin soon, both for the second half of my life as well as the second part of this story.
What a privilege it has been to take the events of the day, fold in a couple of jokes, mix well and create a soufflé that sometimes does not fall flat.
To Buenos Aires, I say CHAU and GRACIAS.
To you, I say TANGO ON and THANKS.
Oh, and I wish myself a Happy Birthday.