A Sheltering Sky

“Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really…How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems so limitless.”

-Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

Though the idea of stepping onto a plane in Newark, and stepping off of it in Mumbai is still an abstract and somewhat illusory concept to me, I can’t help but think of this quote from The Sheltering Sky. A post colonial story about an American couple abroad in Africa, I think it is a must read for anyone traveling to an unfamiliar place. Some may find this quote to be a little cynical, possibly pessimistic, and I wouldn’t completely disagree with you. Yet the realist in me recognizes and resonates with the idea that everything has a limit and therefore an end. Our trip is ten days long, an insignificant amount of time in the grand scheme of things, a story we tell our kids about,”that one time when I was in India….” I don’t mean to take away from the thrill of travel. As this is my first time out of the country I can’t quite formulate the anticipation I feel into a coherent sentence, yet I find myself more focused on the presentness of everything. My last week at home with my family until the summer, my last night with friends who are very rarely all in the same state and/or country at one time, my last night binge watching a Netflix show in my bed that I’ve had since fifth grade. And soon, my last night in Mumbai, my last day taking in the wonder that is Elephanta, my last night in India. I’ve become very aware of how my time is spent and I hope it follows me to India, forcing me to take in everything as if it is my last time there, because it very well might be. And ultimately I share the same feelings as everyone else, pure and unfiltered excitement at the thought experiencing something new.

 

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