What a confusion within! What ambivalence!
It happens practically every time when I’m about to complete a major stretch of a journey and just about to hit the finish line. Part of me says, “This is a great achievement! Rejoice!” Another part says, “I can’t let this end. There is so much satisfaction in the doing.”
So there I was, moving with some apprehension at completing the last steps in Quebec. Once I did, I could have done more to cover some distance in the next province of Ontario, but “no,” let it be a clean “finish” and when I return here in one month after travelling on a youth bus tour through parts of the U.S. and Canada, I will then begin with a fresh start.
This long distance trekking is a service, an offering to guru and to Krishna. It is nothing mundane. As Daruka and I drove over a 12 hour period for Toronto, over starts and stops to stretch and take time, we met people. Well how can people not react. We have an out-of-province license plate – Manitoba. Once getting out of the car you’ve got this rather tall guy, bespeckled and sandy coloured hair, who holds this beautiful parrot perched on his shoulders. Then out comes this monk in a peach-orange tint. Who wouldn’t react?
In such circumstances there is an opportunity “to serve,” to engage others. Whether it’s the bird, the bird-man, the car or the monk, we get the opportunity to say, “we’re doing this walk to promote higher consciousness.” To a couple of women who couldn’t resist to ask I responded, “We are trying to convey a message that we are spirits, not these bodies…”
At a small town called Carrying Place, a small business man on the side of the road selling non-monk food, advertised themselves as “Orange Monk,” highlighting hamburgers. While driving we had to come to a stop. It struck our curiosity. Customers were there chomping away and upon meeting the proprietor of the roadside shop it became confirmed that the two exclamations after the word “monk” was to read as monkii and painted on the front façade was this happy-go-lucky image of a monkey. In any event, customers appear to be led on to a slight mental image of a renunciate.
In another small city in eastern Ontario, Brockville, a break-stop for us, I took a short stroll in the vibrant 8 block downtown. In the course of that short period a half a dozen people gave either a pranam gesture or a namaste address. It appears some folks are “getting it” with the garb and shaven head. The world is slowly changing, and maybe faster than we think, familiarizing itself with eastern imagery and eastern thought. It’s about time the east and west shared.
There was a time, not so long ago, the French Canada (Quebec) and English Canada (Ontario) did not see eye-to-eye. But a healthy fusion has set while simultaneously a distinction is retained. I think it’s “Tim Horton’s” and hockey that unites. Eventually it could also be “Kirtan for All.” (Kirtan refer to chanting.)