by Kevin Carrel Footer
I am trying out a new theory on the streets of Buenos Aires. When walking through the most congested parts of town, where the crowds mill and pamphleteers prosper and hawkers hawk, I just let go. I don’t resist the flow of the crowd nor try to pass the couple that meanders. I walk as if I were alone in the countryside — not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the Great Metropolis. I slowly drift in the direction I want to go, but I don’t allow anything to become an obstacle. Instead of going up against the knot of people that won’t let me pass, I wait until they have drifted apart. I take everything in stride.
It is possible, I believe, to move through the world without opposition, without obstacles, without rancor. It is possible, I think, to take life as it comes, be grateful, then move on. It is possible also to let go of things – even life – when it is time to let go of them and still be whole. It is possible but you must walk a long way before you know it to be so.
On the street, a crowd of boys broke into a fight, all against one. The half-formed men moved like an amoeba down the sidewalk, crashing into walls and street lamps but never separating. I laughed. And then it was all over like a passing summer shower and they were back jostling to get onto a bus together, joking and joshing.
The monsoon came the other night; I have my friend from Bombay as a witness. We alighted just as the first drops fell; by the time we had crossed the street we were already soaked. “This is what the monsoons are like,” my friend said dripping. We waited under an overhang where a man and his son were sorting cardboard. We all looked at each other and then laughed.
In the old restaurant on the corner where we took refuge, they gave us white tablecloths from the kitchen to dry ourselves. The owner, who wore suspenders, offered us fresh shirts, though we preferred our own, wet though they were. The restaurant was broad, low, open and empty, like an old Buenos Aires neighbourhood. The owner enjoyed a leisurely meal with his girlfriend.
While we ate and talked, the monsoon came and went. Through the front door, which was wide open, we watched the heavy water fall and fill the empty spaces of the night. Everyone did. It was something to see; we were all glad to be inside, eating well and under cover.
But there are times when you will get wet.
Lately I have come to believe in life as a sort of floating without resistance. We are all told how we must plan out our lives, but there is nothing so pointless as planning for something as amorphous and amoeba-like as a life. It is far better to throw up my hands and let life have me as it will. It will happen anyway.
The storms come and go. You row passionately to that place where one thinks one’s dreams reside but cannot avoid the currents that sweep you elsewhere. All the while, strange things happen: a monsoon hits Buenos Aires the night I am to catch up with an old friend from Bombay; boy’s fight with the same flitting fury of a summer shower; and I surrender to currents that take me where I am to go without my knowing it.
It is okay.