The Art of Drifting
 
eastwind memoirs 13
version 2
 
by Bernie V. Lopez
eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com

http://www.sisterraquel.com/2016/05/the-art-of-drifting

This is the 13th excerpt from the book Wings and Wanderlust. I discovered the art of drifting back in the 70s. I was lucky to escape New York City, a spiritual desert that left me empty. I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime that I called eastwind, hitchhiking 25,000 kilometers for 3 years, drifting through 18 countries in Europe and North Africa.

It was a mind-boggling heart-rending storm-chasing experience that changed me dramatically, every fiber of my soul. It was a violent hurricane and gentle breeze all at once.
 

Drifting is addictive. I have met people who have been on the road for 20 years. I did only 36 months and it was so filling and intense, I needed to stop. For me, drifting was only a ‘pro­cess’, a spiritual phase, a preparation for a vocation or a career, a key to self-discovery. But there were a few rare ‘extremists’, the ‘hard core’, the ‘professional drifters’ who made it a way of life.

The art of drifting and self-discovery is based on things which are many times against everything we learned in school. The Brain Matrix below explains. The right brain is the poet in you. The left brain is the engineer in you.

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Cover of the book Wings and Wanderlust,
with critiques from Ateneo philosophy students.

Order the book – email eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com.
 
when you enter the dark forest
good and bad things lurk
to make and break your soul
take the chance, you will not regret it
darkness and light will encompass you
make the Lord your beacon
gather strength in His grace
and everything will fall into place
 
THE BRAIN MATRIX
 
right brain
left brain
frame
overall
spiritual
imagination
conscience
philosophical
random
role
creativity
intuitive
play piano by ear
compose
pictures, vision, ideas
inspiration
whole
final goal
synthesize
strategy
integrate
discern
fluid
holistic
monolithic
surrealism
abstract
improvised
spontaneous
unpredictable
risk
estimated
qualitative
controller
architect
pianist
poet
no rules
freedom
flesh
detail
spatial
memory
knowledge
technical
sequential
tasks
accuracy
logical
schooled piano
read notes
words, grammar, vocabulary
perspiration
parts
steps
analyze
tactic
break up
compute
rigid
one at a time
granular
realism
concrete
programmed
studied
predictable
assurance
precise
quantitative
accountant
engineer
carpenter
mathematician
rules
discipline
 
the pendulum swung from structured to unstructured
order to chaos, completeness to vacuum
sequential to random, steps to non-steps
programs to non-programs
right brain to left brain
in all the absurdity there was meaning
in all the meaning there was absurdity
 
Every­one has a left and right brain. The art of wings and self-discovery belongs to the right brain. It is therefore important to make the right brain dominate your actions and decisions while on the road. Other­wise, you will not attract magical experiences by chance, you will find yourself more elusive, and you may remain in a whirlpool or vicious circle of caution and disci­pline.
 

But there must be balance, like Yin and Yang, like light and darkness. You cannot survive the whirl­wind if you are totally right-brained. Complete abandon to the whirlwind is not practical. There are limits to ‘un-planning’.

The right brain mysteriously senses danger but when it is there, the left brain must plan a course of action to avoid that danger. Left and right brains complement each other. We know the meaning of dark­ness only because we know the meaning of light and dark­ness is the absence of light. Light and darkness are bound together and is manifested in the lights and shadows on a face. We do not see anything if it is white on white or black on black. We see everything if it is white on black or black on white.

to be idle is not evil
you must be empty so you can be filled
nothingness complements fullness
they are cosmic partners like yin and yang
like light and darkness yielding shadows and figures
 
when no thoughts enter your mind
that is the time you discern your being
you become aware of your fullness
be the undisturbed water in a pool
as smooth as a mirror
that you may see yourself clearly
 
Finally, wings and self-discovery are a form of education beyond one’s wildest dream. I compare it to a doctorate but only much more. A doctorate degree can be an arm chair affair, vicari­ous, book-bound. Its wisdom is theoretical and of the mind. Drifting is sensual. Its wisdom is experiential and of the heart. I can still smell the fried fish in Tetouan, Morocco. I can hear the distant peal of sheep bells in the Portuguese countryside near Fatima. I can still feel the sting of fine grain of Sahara sand on my face.
 

Scattered excerpts

Fellow drifters from Mauritius at Pisa, Italy. Note the author’s eastwind sweater.

 

***************
all is darkness, all is silence
suddenly, a nova blinds the eyes
thunder rapes the ears
all is darkness, all is silence once again
 
My general plan was to head south for winter where it was warmer. I was on a general direction towards southern Spain, that was all. Nothing speci­fic. My right brain was functioning. That was good. But my left brain kept bobbing up. It was a product of my programmer’s time frame, quick, short and with no orienta­tion to linger, overly conscious of efficiency. I was still a green­horn as an adventurer. Order was pullng me down. I needed chaos. As soon as I saw a place, I moved.
 

Drifting does not hurry. It lingers so one can absorb people and places more deeply. Drifting is precisely defying the regularity of nine to five schedule and programmed city life. Tourists who have no time have to hurry and cover a lot of ground in a short time. Time frame is a product of lifestyle. But you can change your time frame by changing your lifestyle.

**********
I was starting to avoid the big cities because they posed more effort to get in, seek complex tourist informa­tion, then get out. It was more complex, more maps and streets to study, more for the left brain. The people in the cities were also more busy and colder. The thing was to simplify. The countryside and villages of Europe were more edible to me. The people were also more warm and had more time to talk. Quiet, no hustle and bustle, the Old World in its rural splen­dour was nice, more for the right brain.
 
**************
From Faro, I headed  for Vila  Franca de Xira  to see  the bulls.  They gave me a good tip. This time, I had to make it on a specific date. It was a time to be prompt. I couldn’t miss it. My left brain took over. I made sure I made it on time even though I was hitch­ing. I arrived at Xira after noon, just in time for the bulls. In the evening, the right brain was in charge. All the houses offered grilled sardinas frescas and agua pe (cheap red wine ) to passers-by.  I was drunk with joy. Alone, I slept in the woods, thanking the Lord for the gift of serendipity.
 

Robert Frost wrote –
the woods are lovely dark and deep
but I have promises to keep
and miles to go before I sleep
 
eastwind writes
the woods are lovely dark and deep
and i have promises to skip
and on the roadside until dawn i sleep
 
****************
The best medicine for loneliness or boredom on the road was the road itself, I was starting to learn. Pain and loneli­ness vanished instantly when the excitement of the road emerged, when I looked towards the horizon. This would happen many times, Madrid, Canary Islands, Zurich. Whenever I felt lonely, I ran away from it by achieving the speed of light. Motion was the best friend of the drifter. That was the advan­tage of wings. You can run anytime and to anywhere. You can run away from pain, at least for now, not forever.
 
****************
I lived in a seashore cave for a month in Lanzarote, Canary Islands. No electricity. I gathered a ton of discarded  candle drips from the garbage, re-melted it in 25 sardine cans. At night, one could see my cave glow from the outside. Every other night, I invited 8 other backpackers living in tents and other caves to my ‘party’. I served gofio, crude hot chocolate. My cave was the biggest and the brightest and the center of the Universe.

*************

hitchhiking requires both left and right brains
left brain for the physical
right brain for the spiritual
miss one and you miss the other
it’s all or nothing
 

**************

By the time I reached Barcelona from Andorra, I was completely trans­formed from my New York self. I was ready for the world, ready for Spain which colonized my country for three hundred years. Now, I was bold and daring. I was begin­ning to realize the importance of not planning and of walking aimlessly as the best form of drift. My nascent right brain was swell­ing and constricting my programmer’s left brain.

*************
Getting lost in crowded cities became a habit… Athens, Rotterdam, Copenhagen. Once you got the hang of it, it was great, a powerful tool to absorb new places and new people. I drifted aimlessly, not knowing where to go but having the gut feel where to go. Discovering new places this way was better than a planned cerebral organized map-based or book-based tour. You have no expectations. You are not looking for a place a book mentions. Your left brain is recedes. Your right brain swells. You are thus surprised at seeing things. Later on, after another six months, I would expand unplanned city travel to unplanned country travel. I would hitch without knowing where to go. The essence of drift is the right brain. And I discovered that – better than discovering magical places is discovering magical people.
 
for the new adventurer danger is its own end
for danger is a deeply moving experience
but danger is a double-edged sword
one blade is the razor’s edge of excitement
the other blade is the razor’s edge of disaster
one has to make a choice
whether to take the tight-rope walk
whether to take the one giant leap
into the abyss leading to nowhere and everywhere
 
**************  
The economics of drifting is your left brain function­ing. No money no honey. It is a good complement to your right brain which takes care of beautiful sunsets, exhilarating roller coaster rides and the magic of the road.
 
***********
20 long years after eastwind, I wrote from sheer memory the book Wings and Wanderlust (The Art of Discovering Your Inner Self). It took me two weeks of frenzied ‘stream of consciousness’ to finish the book, sleeping an average of 2 hours every night. I feared that if I stopped, I would lose momentum. It took me one year to refine and edit it. The book is a mix of adventure anecdotes mixed with philosophical verses.
 

ORDER THE BOOK – email eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com

READ OTHER eastwind MEMOIRS

12 – EASTWIND VERSES
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2015/02/eastwind-verse
11 – HITCHHIKING WITH A GUITAR
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2014/12/hitchhiking
09 – THE COLORFUL FILIPINO SEAMEN Piraeus, Greece
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2014/06/the-colorful-filipino-seamen
08 – FILIPINOS AS GLOBAL MUSICIANS Leidseplein, Amsterdam
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2014/08/filipino-as
07 – A SWEDISH DAMSEL CALLED OLGA Canary Islands, North Africa
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2014/04/eastwind-memoirs-07
06 – THE 25,000-KM 3-YEAR TREK eastwind overview
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/11/eastwind-memoirs-06
05 – JACK DANIELS AND THE CANADIAN BELLES Algarve, Portugal
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-05
04 – THE BEDOUIN GIRL Tetouan, Morocco
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-04
03 – PILGRIMAGE TO FATIMA the 7-day 80-km hike, Portugal
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-03
02 – BRAWL IN A PORTUGUESE BAR Vila Franca de Santo Antonio, Portugal
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-02
01 – TWO FILIPINOS IN ATHENS Greece
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2013/10/eastwind-memoirs-01
 
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5 MEDITATION POSTERS

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amdg