The Spain Diary, 11-12

randall11. The Train Station.

Bells, smoke, fresh squeezed orange juice, men in suits, sirens, more bells, bustling espresso machines heating and steaming, silverware on glass, bags rolling, men and women hustling and a few smiles staring while bodies sniff through the train station. I sit here in my corner watching people chasing Euros like a man viewing some kind of business or commerce circus. All around me people on the go go go and men in suits smoke cigarettes, laughing loud (which exposes their inner pain) and drinking beer while I sip fresh squeezed orange juice- waiting for Jen to buy her tampons and for the train to depart.

I am impressed by how different I am from all these souls that surround me but how similar we all really are. We are all the same- in that we are all run by our fears, same in that we all have a difficult time just sitting still like a Taoist master (instead we are always on the go, why?), same in that we all want, we all desire and we all have unfulfilled dreams. What makes us different from one another may be the language that we speak, the beliefs we claim to own or the paths that we choose to take in order to achieve that one common human goal- happiness; but these differences are simply illusions. Illusions created by our various forms of social conditioning that we are all a product of- in one form or another.

Whether I am in Spain or San Francisco people seem to think that happiness is found outside the self. The great myth of our time is that happiness is materialistic, something that we can buy and own. How often have we bought that beautiful rug that fills our heart with joy for about a week, until we start to desire a newer rug? Maybe it is because of our social conditioning that we fail to stop the madness and take pro-active steps (such as introspection, meditation, mindfulness) towards achieving authentic happiness that lasts. Instead, we buy into this misguided notion of happiness that has made human beings into profit makers and over workers- all desiring the dream of fame and fortune. Specialists in things that are irrelevant to the souls desire for freedom and happiness. Instead we are confused by the messages that we are given and this confusion (because at an instinctual level we know that we are going against our soul’s desire) is a bacterial breeding ground for ulcerated emotions like anger, fear, frustration, hostility, arrogance and depression. These have all become the symptoms of a disease that I believe is destroying this beautiful world.

The inherent irony in our modern time is that technology makes life better, easier- more organized. However, I am afraid that the reality is the opposite of this packaged marketing scheme. Technology has manifested out from a disease and has made human beings more isolated from one another, less imaginative and less powerful. Technology enslaves, engulfs, weakens and takes away what is beautiful in life or nature. It cuts down the self reliant trees of the mind and replaces them with computer chips of conformity and dependence. Technology is the opposite of freedom. Technology is an illusive freedom that an individual believes that they have- but it is not really there. What they believe to be their freedom is really only an institution. This institution promotes ideas of autonomy and personal freedom but this is the inherent irony of technology (ever try to fix your own computer of cell phone?)- these ideas are false beliefs.

I have traveled half way across the world but I am astounded by the fact that here people look the same as they do in California, dress the same, have the same laptops, business suits, yellow anti-cancer bracelets, haircuts and cars. I suppose this is a rather ambiguous display of globalization- and I am not so sure that I am terribly comfortable with it. Standing in a Starbucks Café in Madrid that looks just like the Starbucks in Oakland, California is not my idea of personal freedom or imagination. It hybridizes the human mind to think just like everyone else and it evaporates autonomy and imagination. Zap!! Just like that.

My solution is one that reeks of new age simpatico. It is a philosophy built upon the edifice of self reliance, love and authentic freedom. What this solution looks like at a practical level- I am still uncertain, because I myself am enslaved by the current logic. I buy, spend and work- all to have things which I hope will bring me happiness. I have been branded a consumer as well- sitting here with my laptop on a cafeteria table top. I am equally dependent. This is the brilliance of the current technocracy- it makes hypocrites of us all!!!

I have written long enough about this. I am rambling, I know- but these are the thoughts that fill my head this afternoon. I am in Spain and should not be so heavy but I am constantly reminded that:

Humankind has lost its way.
Humankind has gone astray.
Humankind has forgotten what it means to play.
Because Humankind has fallen into a debt,
So deep, that Humankind has lost its ability to weep.
So we buy.

Here comes Jen with a shopping bag filled with things that she bought in the store. We needed new toothbrushes, deodorant and a few other articles of good hygiene. I am writing and watching her move towards me through the sea of hustle and bustle. I hope she is not run over bye a suitcase because she is the most beautiful thing in this place.

12. Seville, Spain.

We have made it to Seville. Quite a long train ride. Half the time it was foggy and I could not see out the window. We are staying in a very bizarre hostel with blue and yellow tiles all over the walls and dead bugs on the tiled floor. There are wooden shutters on the wall that do not open onto a window- but rather a white spackled wall. I assume we could not afford the room with windows. The room had such a morbid smell that I had to go out and buy scented candles. DO NOT COME TO SEVILLE. I wanted to leave the moment I arrived. It is a loud, overcrowded and dirty city that is not only unfriendly- but mad. The city has an inferno quality to it (not unlike Madrid) and I am told that out of this pathos came the art form known as Flamenco. It is 7:30 p.m and Jen and I are going to leave our sordid cell and go out in search of food, wine and Flamenco.

(shrunken dogs barking in narrow streets as the sun falls down.)


  1. Couldn’t argue with any of that, Randall. Similarity is deeper than difference in humans and the world we have made for ourselves is fundamentally unfulfilling. What shall we do?

  2. Thanks Paul. What is to be done? My first inclination is to say- throw out the television and stop going to big budget movies. I have done this and it helps- but I still feel like an island in a singular consumeristic sea of homogenized minds. I think Lenin asked the same question- “what is to be done?” I am afraid my only real answer is to live as authentically as we can- even if it means freezing our buts off!

  3. Humankind has you and your words and that makes it better right there.

    I came here, just before I run out to the hospital, and thought I was going to here a funny story. Instead I heard a story that made me think (you would love my husband).

    You already know what I think about your writing no matter the text of the story. Wonderful.

    Proof that there is another ‘individual’ in the world not suffering from the Joneses.

    Love Renee

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