I walked the other day caring with me a question. “Why do you need so much to go back to Asia.”. Why do I feel not from Brazil? I answered thinking about Karmapa and about the Thais I know, the Mekong. And then I walked kms home and I thought more profoundly about it. It was hard to address the roots. And suddenly it became clear I lost my roots. I had to think I am an “inbetweener” or an outsider.
I pondered about what it really meant to be an inbetweener. And like must of us who feel this feeling we seem to lack home. I thought about those who had married to someone of some other country. I thought about the children of parents of different countries and cultures. And though I pondered if it wouldn’t be the same case for couples who had a blatant difference between social classes I realised that once you throw languages into the equation things become way more complex.
If we are to remove language our fundamental humanity is so obvious. It does not really matter where you are, you can exchange the basic principles of life with anyone if you want. However, when you can speak than the reality of philosophy, religion, and culture become the verbalization of difference.
I pondered and realised that many have lived abroad but that is not what makes you an “inbetweener.”. And I do not even attribute value to this group, I simply pondered about it. What makes it exist, how can you define it? Maybe is the amount of time in transition, through many years, and learning languages. Maybe it is the fact that you start to import parts of what you admire of the outside. And of course, you do not become part of it. And even more impressive you start to remove some things that come from where you were born. And of course, you do it without realising it. And then suddenly the solid roots, and nationality that many people carry, we simply don’t. We feel like a human being very similar and different to anyone anywhere.
So, Asia comes to my mind, and there there are many people on an eternal quest for home. And the more we search the less of a place we are from. We are always an outsider and we become pleased by that. And it is in Asia that I met people from the west who were like me…. on the road for too long, and they were searching in between lines the reality of that which seemed daily more impossible to be found. So long that none of us could really fix a solid base anywhere, and maybe we do not even know how to. Maybe we can’t, nor want to. Even more profoundly the deepest connections have happened with people you will not see that often, and probably will never see again. But their presence inside of you never seems to disappear. I know that people who have ground tend to fill it is because it is easier than to not deal with something daily. That could be the case, I do not deny, but what I realise is that for whatever reason there is, we oppose to have a solid ground. And we probably do not even feel that anyone who is not an inbetweener could really grasp it.
I walked and I thought of Maciek who I met in England, who spent time in Asia, and who is from Poland and now feels it is time to move to a new continent, to learn a different language. I think of Andrey who is from Russia and I met in my Phd in London, he also has been to many places and now is doing a PhD in Sweden in a new language. And then I think of Nese who I met in Amsterdam in a class on conflict resolution, we spoke in a mix of French, English and basics of Dutch. I met her in her house in Turkey, and now she is in the UK. Then comes to my mind Chi, who was born in Taiwan and crossed China, europe, Africa, mddle East and the Americas. I met him in the UK, years later he came to Brasil and told me that of all he had seen in more than 3 years on the road he was moved by Iran and Sudan. He was moved by the strength of the people. I think of my dear friend Leila who lived with me in NY and then floated the world between Lebanon, Europe, Africa, US making amazing photos that are now in her institute and Leila Alaoui is in heaven. Like me she liked to hear the tales of others. So many people come to my mind.
Ironically it is way easier for me to in write in English than to do it in Portuguese or French, the languages of my childhood. It will be filled with flaws in any language I shall attempt to write. I have to recognise the path has made me like that. In a world of violence and wars more and more wondereres there will be. There will be more people displaced by choice or lack of it. And we all seem to sick a community to which we belong to.
So, I am in Brasil, this country faces a total absurd of a coup. One that can be justified by the process but not for the reasons. People are divided and filled by hate. Lacking roots I see as an outsider. I see a media that is filled with political interest, a judicial system that has no obligation to report to anyone. It judges as they want. My pain comes for the poor because they will pay for this, like they do anywhere. I do not care regret simply because I protested against it. Like I did in the US. I did not support the bombing of Afghanistan, nor Iraq when I was in NY, I do not support this impeachment. Like I do not believe in pre-emptive attacks, even in my own life I changed doctors because I do not want to throw in my body infiltrations to prevent the possibilities of an attack. Like I was against the war of Gaza I am against what is happening in Brasil. In a sense it makes me even more as an outsider. Like I went alone to every continent I realised I missed Asia because there I stepped next to people like me. None of my friends would ever support a violent police, wars, and would not recognise their privilege to be able to meet the other. My roots are lacking… and I do not miss them. I am part of a group. My group are of people who are in between. We are valuing and working to be in the path of morality, ethics, and compassion. We are working, as we can, for the construction of a better world, we help the person who is next to us in spite of where they come from.