No More Waiting to Die
The Middle of the World
Quito, Ecuador, South America
There was a great vibe to Quito,
a city surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of Andean mountains that sloped
upwards with green patches like a ski resort during summer but with no
chairlifts. The natural plateau so high up in the clouds nurtured a symmetrical
view that pleased the eye and calmed the soul. The environment made him
philosophical about his plight. Noble intuitively understood why the Inca's had
chosen this location as one of the two seats of power and why the Spaniards
used Quito as their base to expand, conquer and create an empire.
in the taxi going to his hostel, his mind was filled with last minute
perspective adjustments, as if usurped by an inner philosopher wielding a
hammer: "Only a total lack of fear will enable you to attain true freedom. To
have the time and financial independence to do what you want still won't give
you that freedom you know exists. To be imprisoned by a job you didn't like but
needed to do to survive was to know what lack of freedom was, so now, free from
the job, take that laissez-faire-I-don't-care attitude to fuel a newfound
freedom. Absorb an I-don't-care-what-others-think heedlessness that celebrates
each day free from routine, punch cards, and normalcy. Judgment has been thrown
out. Inhibition is fear and thus is not allowed! To act fully without
infringements or restrictions is to truly live." He stroked his unshaven chin.
Where had this voice come from?
were his thoughts when Noble stepped out of the taxi to the Swiss-run hostel he
safe and cheap, he was unpacked and curious to explore his new surroundings but
balked. He sat on his bed and listened to the sound of silence, but then the
voice of the philosopher resurfaced: "The quiet calm of listening and observing
lets the genius in, suffuses into the fiber, transplants into the human
organism, now your own, and waiting to be tested. Get fishing; get out there in
the mix because half of life is just showing up. Avoid letting the voices of
doubt inhibit you from taking the first step, from putting you in the mix.
Ironically, to first embark into the mix is the most difficult step to master
your fate, only because it's at this stage that your step is the most
tentative. Your inner house is still hectic! You ought to be gently pushed into
the scrum to begin!" His doppelgänger inside his head was strange but it had a
calming effect on him. It knew what needed to be said for Noble to step away
from the inertia of ignoring life.
right!" he said. "'Ought to be gently pushed,' that's a good one, Reno."
Why not let Reno the philosopher say his piece? If he was Noble's doppelgänger
then it was excellent timing because if he ever needed help to overcome his
shortcomings, now was the time. Called him Reno because he was the only
philosopher he knew, an ex-classmate who studied philosophy at college and grew
his beard and threw himself into it. Just sounded right to call that voice in
his head Reno.
left the hostel and walked through the central park to Mariscal where
the expatriates hung out. Lacking poise and a game plan, Noble walked down the
busy streets heading towards the restaurants and central plaza, when he passed
by a large outdoor market. That was where he met Pedro.
good posture, Pedro from California held court on the corner, groupies hanging
around his knapsack full of stones and bracelets and earrings. There were
hippies lined against the worn brick and stone buildings. He raised his chin
from Ecuador. All sorts of colors." With raised arm he stopped Noble from fully
turning the leave, having no interest in his stones. "Come, I have what you
want. Marijuana?" Pedro stepped closer, confident he had spotted a North
American partier with Noble's stubble and Birkenstock sandals. For a moment
Pedro's eyes pleaded with his.
tired and sore and on his way for a pint, looked at the round face with shaved
head and mini ponytail at the back, surprisingly intrigued with the hip English
speaker. He fought his habit of avoiding engagement with people. And then he
heard the distant voice of Reno, whispering something about saying ‘yes' to
opportunities. People who are dying never procrastinate.
know this town. I take travelers around sometimes. From San Diego but my mother
lives here. Better here." said Pedro, lowering his voice and leaning into him
so others couldn't see. " Why don't we get some cervezas? ‘Been walking
and the body and soul needs to take respite."
spoke a quick burst of Spanish to one of his friends standing on the corner,
scooped up his bag and patted the guy on the shoulder. There was an
understanding. Nods all around. Noble sensed danger but was pushed on by his
down the street Pedro looked closely at him with a curled tongue, letting out
the quietest whistle along the equator. His broken teeth catching the sun,
scars on his face showing empirical data from living life.
go get a cerveza at my cousin's bar," he said. "He has cerveza
there." It was if Noble had been highjacked by a higher power, walking into an
obvious trap. But he was adamant on facing his fears and opening doors.
Besides, he had smoked weed once before but Rex and Darryl certainly had toked
their fair share. He had a solar-plexus pang at the thought of how much he had
missed in life.
walked through the streets of Quito, palm trees and old colonial houses, until
they reached a café. When Pedro went behind the counter into the kitchen Noble
reached into the fridge and removed two beers. His thirst was raging and his
fear was ebbing.
no!" said Pedro. "We can't drink here."
didn't hear man? Last night nineteen people died from drinking a type of strong
homemade tequila, like moonshine. Ninety-percent alcohol. There was something
wrong with the mix. Sometimes the guys who sell it behind the cafes add
something to it so they can sell more. Betcha there are more than nineteen
how does that affect us drinking beer?"
president declared no drinking for three days in mourning."
my luck," replied Noble, shoulders hunched.
hombre! As I said, I can get some stuff if you want. We can take these beers
and go down close to my place where I can pick up if you want. I can get base
or coke or whatever man." The mention of cocaine tweaked something in Noble. It
was the best place in the world for it and it was something he had seen a
thousand times in movies but had never even seen it before.
then he heard that voice again: "Boundaries and the unfounded fences of thought
belittle the power of imagination, and stifle the capacity of what could be
within an individual! New heights and mountains as yet unclimbed are rampant in
the world, plain to see by all but roped off as undoable by the deafening
chorus of nay-sayers that can drown out the voice of talent within you!"
bought some beer and walked with Pedro to pick up some stuff.
It was so
big he didn't know what it was.
was something to it. He knew Pedro wouldn't be so honest and then rip a guy
like him off. Couldn't snort it but it never occurred to him that it was a huge
chunk of crack. Cutting it thin and sprinkled in some joints gave them a good
kick, but it wasn't until he made a makeshift pipe that he harnessed some
shavings and tasted that unique aftertaste. The alpha must learn it all on his
own on the outer lip of the envelope.
who had been so humdrum and sober all his life, saddled with a sad smile and
entrenched with the hollow bass sound of moroseness, found a new vibe in his
exploration of the cocoa leaf. He experienced for the first time a flutter in
his spirit, an elation brought on by a warm wind, comforting and secure, giving
him an expansive outlook on everything before him coupled with a waft of
was not what he had expected.
was it what he had been told by mainstream media.
found no evil in the harvesting of this plant. Nor did he find it harsh or
detrimental or harmful. In fact he toyed with the idea that perhaps it was the
missing piece to his hum of boredom within his mind. It might even be the
impetus to wider thinking and the catalyst to his imagination, like a sparkplug
that had ignited the flammable fumes that had remained stagnant for decades.
Pushed around and fooled he had been by those experts on morality, snowballed
and lied to at the cost of the one thing he could never recover: lost time.
he could not resent them for it was always up to him to question and to explore
and to test the truth of that which was fed to him, whether by authority or by
his parents or friends. It had always been up to him to verify accepted norms.
He was sure these were reasons why he hadn't but he was unable to remember what
irony didn't escape him. What stung was the tragedy of so many missed
opportunities, so much fun and fulfillment untaken and un-experienced for lack
of effort by his own choice. Or rather un-choice. Yet it was a
choice he had made, perhaps flippantly on some Tuesday afternoon that only took
a moment, lightly, easily, assumed to be correct and a "no-brainer," a choice not
to question that which was spoon-fed from all directions, a choice made
blindly, pushed by momentum and conformity that had profound ramifications on
at least I'm here now doing it by my own hand, he thought; at least I'm tasting
the nectar: that other life, richer with qualia and somehow deeper with