Belgrade, Day 16: Out of Body Experience
I legitimately do not have much today worth sharing about Belgrade. Yesterday, a cold front passed through and it has been cooler out (like “pants weather”, not cold-cold) and a tiny bit rainy. Being recklessly wanderlust-y as I am, I woke up yesterday morning with a couple of different ideas. The first being that, given my limited time here, I need to see as much as I can. I started looking at train schedules and began trying to make a decision of somewhere I should go this weekend. My options limited by the amount of time it takes to get there, because I work during the week. So obviously, I’m not going to be taking a train to Zurich or Warsaw from Belgrade. I eventually was down to Istanbul or Athens. Both are rich in culture. But I picked Athens. Not because it was the winner but because I didn’t feel like wasting any more time mulling it over. So I’m going to take the train and visit Athens for the weekend.
The other day, I was talking to my friend Ivor about my travels. He asked me, “What happens when you get exhausted from it?” I thought about that for a split second. And concluded, “I’m already exhausted. I just have to fuel through it.” And that’s what yesterday was for me. Waking up, without any plans for the day, my second thought was, “Time to throw the figurative dart in the map and end up in another adventure.” The dart landed on Zvezdarska Šuma, and yet I never ended up there. As I left the apartment to walk there, even well-rested as I was, the weight of all the world around me fell on me and I started to feel dizzy and light-headed like I was having an out-of-body experience. It felt like my body was remote-control operated and like its internal wiring had gone berserk, magnetically drawn to adventure, or fueled only on adrenaline, sprinting away from my heart, from my core. I felt disconnected from it–and I remembered that stranger who reached out to me before I left.
And I had this sudden urge to lurch forward into my own body, pull the reigns, and say, “Woah there, easy buddy.” I’ve mentioned this letter before. I don’t think the person who wrote it knew what an impact it would make on me. It left me speechless. The past two years of my life have been some of the most rewarding years of my life. “Am I doing the right thing” has never been a question. When I’m old, I’ll think fondly of these days.
Why? Well, let me use an example I’m familiar with. I lift weight. When I lift weights, I tear my muscle fibers, the muscle cells burst. This triggers hyperplasia. Creatine enzyme enters my bloodstream. Not only will the creatine repair the cells that were damaged, but it will go above and beyond and build more cells. It takes a lot of work and a little pain, mends and heals you, and makes you stronger than you were before. Give it your all, take the pain, and you’ll be better than you were before. Hyperplasia applies to any cell structure in your body, though, not just muscle cells.
Any burdens I carry with me in my travels, I like to think that although I am sore and exhausted from them in the moment, that I will mend and heal and become stronger. Seeing so much of the world and being surrounded by some incredibly inspirational people… I know my brain will autonomously go through some figurative hyperplasia itself.
But on the street, not sure what was happening, I wandered inside the Skroz Dobra across the street on Bulevar Despota Stefana, grabbed lunch, and sat down waiting for the dizzy feeling to pass. But it just never quite did, so I went back.
Last night, I was walking to Tempo in the dark. As I did, a car rolled up with a group of Roma people in it. They were offering me a ride. I politely waved no. I then watched as they went up to another person a bit further along and offered them a ride as well. I thought, “Why do people not see things like that?” It sucks that these people are so genuinely nice and polite and yet they can’t catch a break because their reputation will always be tarnished by their ethnicity. A lot of feelings passed through me in that moment but I didn’t have the capacity to process any of it.
Someone I don’t know recorded a video signing in ASL to me yesterday. I don’t know why. They were apologizing to me. But again, I don’t know why. It was weird seeing a stranger sign to me though. I don’t know if they were actually deaf or not, but they signed in smooth gestures, although somewhat deliberated. And as I have previously said in a piece I did on language a couple of months ago, ASL has a very profound and unique way of bringing something out in people that spoken language cannot and so it was a powerful feeling to watch another person signing to me.
But I’m exhausted. Not physically. My body is in excellent shape. I can walk 17 miles and still want to go scale a mountain afterwards. It’s mental. And yet I have no desire to slow down. I want to experience everything. I want to read everything. I want to speak every language. I want to write all the code. I want to meet every person. And yet it’s constant stimulus. If you’ve ever rubbed something against your skin for a long period of time, you know it eventually gets numb. Well the brain works the same way.
It’s a good thing to feel. Because it makes me appreciate all those times I really, really feel things. Lets me know I’m alive. And that I have a heart. But importantly, that I need to take care of it if I have any desire to keep having adventures.