On The Flip Side

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world”- Schopenhauer

Close one eye.  Take a look around. Now close the other one instead and look around.  Things look slightly different out of each eye, and remarkably different than they do out of two.  Changing our perspective can be that easy.

When I was four years old, I loved blurring the focus of my eyes.  I fancied that it was my special superpower, and I would do it often—sometimes just for fun, and sometimes to distort a reality that I didn’t want to face.

It’s no wonder, then, that ten years later,  I discovered LSD.  I was on my first date, and the boy I was with was a Senior. Very casually he told me that he was going to drop acid, and if I wanted, I could too. I had read Go Ask Alice the summer before, and even though the fictitious diary was intended to warn children against the perils of drug use, it made me want to do them more. Suffice to say, blurring my vision no longer cut it. I was ready for the next step.

But my dose didn’t take effect, at least not while I was on my date.  It wasn’t until I put the key back through my parents’ front door that I started feeling funny. I quickly said goodnight and washed up for bed, stifling the giggles.  I locked myself in my room and spent the rest of the night and early morning alone, tripping balls in stevieland.  Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to fry.  The walls were breathing with a womblike comfort, and everything around me was shimmering, bright, alive and had a story to tell.  Amidst all those synapses firing, I laughed at the magic and absurdity of life whilst pondering the deeper philosophical implications of belly lint.  Nothing was a secret anymore! Nothing was sacred anymore! And yet everything was.  The world stretched out before me in that teenage room and beckoned me forth with the heavenly sound of my own laughter—a pure and effortless response that comes from an acceptance of and a wonder for the way things simply are.  Needless to say, I would never be the same again.

Religion, nationality, wealth, gender, upbringing, meditation, drugs, and location, just to name a few, affect our perspective.  And much of our life experience depends on how we view the world. The etymology of perspective comes from the Latin perspectus, pp. of perspicere, meaning, “inspect, look through.”  Perspective, then, can be thought of as an optic lens, or life’s viewfinder. For this reason, I try not to have a myopic perspective and take great effort to broaden my view.

Recently, Tree and I crossed the equator into the Southern Hemisphere.

The equator is the imaginary line on the Earth’s surface equidistant from the North Pole and South Pole, dividing the Earth into the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.  The latitude of the equator is zero degrees.

What’s different in the Southern Hemisphere?

1)   The seasons are reversed.  When it’s summer up north, it is winter down south. And vice versa.

2)   The night sky.  By the time we get to the midsouthern latitudes, the Big and Little Dippers will disappear while Alpha Centauri, the Southern Cross, and other south circumpolar constellations will become permanent features of the night. Not to mention that now the Sun and Moon cross the sky from right to left instead of left to right.

3)   Most of the world’s land mass is in the north, while most of the world’s water mass is in the south.

4)   The centuries-old view of the South by the North is summed up in this statement by Noam Chomsky:  “The South is assigned a service role: to provide resources, cheap labor, markets, opportunities for investment and, lately, export of pollution. For the past half-century, the US has shouldered the responsibility for protecting the interests of the “satisfied nations” whose power places them “above the rest,” …as Winston Churchill put the matter after World War II.” [Noam Chomsky, Year 501, (South End Press, 1993) Chapter 2]. We, of course, do not hold this view as our own, but it will be interesting to find out what the South’s respective view is of the North. 

5)  The people in the Southern Hemisphere know a lot more about our history, culture, and politics than we do about theirs.

These days I don’t drop acid anymore, but I am still being beckoned forth by the promise of a changed perspective.  Travel is my new drug, the new way I blur my eyes, the new kaleidoscope for concocting intricate philosophies and creating a meaningful life.

By leaving what I know–what is safe and expected–to explore what I don’t know–what is foreign and unpredictable–I become hyper aware of my surroundings, more alert and present in the moment. Some people say that’s my survival instinct kicking in, but I choose to call it my will to be awake. Once again, everything is shimmering, bright, alive and has a story to tell….I listen, and I let ‘otherness’ press upon me, shape me into something ‘other’ too. I let it stretch me across the continents, broadening my perspective to make me a more compassionate, kind, and charitable person—and in doing so, I see everyone around me as more compassionate, kind, and charitable too. –STEVIE

We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are. -Anaïs Nin  

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Comments

  1. Beautiful Stevie. You are such an incredible, amazing, compelling author. I was with you every step of the way.
    Brilliant.
    <3

  2. Autie Debby & Uncle Barry says:

    Stevie, you never cease to amaze me. Beautifully written! I wish travel was a required part of our children’s education, teaching our kids how to really see, feel, experience life, people and cultures from a deeper perspective. Your kids will have the best classroom.

    • Thank you Aunty Debby! And I can’t agree more. Right out of high school, kids should have to spend six months waiting tables to learn how to work hard, be polite under duress, and lose that teenage sense of entitlement, and then they should have to foreign travel for an entire year. We should literally kick them out of the country, drop them all off at the Mexican border if we have to 🙂 This will serve two purposes, 1) it will broaden their perspective and teach them to appreciate what they have so much more, and 2) it will remove part of the teenage population for a solid year. It’s a win-win! xoxo.

  3. Without telling us directly, you’re suggesting that borders can be crossed even without geographical changes. This suggests “Travel Writing of the First Kind.” The relationship among the variables is explicit…..BLAH BLAH BLAH..In other words it’s GREAT writing. You’re doing it kid and even doing it without an editor. I love you and always look forward to your articles.

    • Exactly, I’m saying that borders can be crossed in your mind on drugs! Just kidding. Thank you for the compliment. It means a lot coming from such an avid reader! xoxo.

  4. Timothy Iller says:

    Nothing to say other than, this was an awesome post!

  5. Simply beautiful.

  6. You two are back on the move again – yowzer!
    Last time I went below the equator was in Africa in the 70’s.
    South America should be a real trip from what I have read.
    Perspective is always in the eyes of the person doing the looking – not always a good thing.
    Good post.
    Play nice and travel safely.
    Cheers,
    John D. Wilson

    • Hey John. We are not actually on the road again, yet. We crossed the equator without fanfare when we drove into Quito, but I decided to write about it recently since it’s marks another milestone on our journey. That being said, we will be on the road again in three days. Time to explore Ecuador! We’re heading to Guayaquil, Banos and Cuenca for the next 2-3wks before settling back in for a bit in northern Peru.

  7. Wow.

  8. Fuckin a- good writing. You go girl!
    -Sam
    P.S. I never did such things with Tree- ever;)

  9. oh my sweet friend of same mind and heart….you continue to perfectly distill matters of great magnitude while maintaining humility…your writing is growing in leaps and bounds…it MOVES me, which is what art is meant to do. i know you’re super far away, but every time i read your writing i can feel your fine fingers touching my heart. thank you. so much love.

  10. Hey guys…I just came across this link about how one dose of psilocybin can create a lasting change in personality, making one more ‘open.’ I obviously knew this through personal experience, but it’s interesting to know that it has been clinically proven.

    http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/single_dose_of_hallucinogen_may_create_lasting_personality_change#.To2vCjc9bcE.facebook

  11. Hey Stevie,
    You are AWESOME!! You are such a good writer it warms my soul to feel as if I knew you when, and watched an extrordinary transformation you are richly blessed. I always knew that whatever path you chose your passion for life would be your guide. Anyone who is partly coherent can learn volumes following your actions.
    Can you guys adopt me?

  12. Jim Hemker says:

    Stevie,
    Your friend, and my daughter, Sara sent me an email this morning to share your travels, exploits and your exceptional writing skills. For the last 30 minutes of so, became engrossed in you trips and stories about Easter Islans Papa Nui, Angel Falls, the Bolivian Salt Falts, Pacifico and Machu Picchu. First of all, thank you for sharing your travels, stories and insight with everyone…I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading, not only about the location you were visiting, but how you preceve the people, places and world about you…very entertaining. I was fortunate to live and work in Germany for 18 months (in the Army) and then took a European separation to explore the European continent. I was able to travel to more than 25 countries from Western Euope, England, Ireland, Scandinavia, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and so forth. I also attended 6 weeks summer school in Upsala, Swenden, where I met Sara’s mother Risa. All in all, it was the most rewarding period of my life. I agree with one of your comments that it should be required of all young people to travel abroad, to see the world to learn about and develop an appreciation for the people, their culture the land and so much more. So have you written any travel books? If not why not…you are anature gifted writer!! keep it up…Jim

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