Sunset at the edge of the world

(written during my trip in Iran, 25 April – 12 May 2013)

Shiraz-8970Coming back from Shiraz. Watching through the window of the bus as the sun is falling, fading, slowly, behind the mountains. The light filtered through the clouds has a delicate beautiful feeling to it. To the east, the sky is still blue and the white clouds receive faint reflections of red and orange and pink – hints of the revolution happening on the other side of the sky, on the other side of the world.

It seems as if we are moving towards the sun, as if the road is going to disappear into the incandescent light in front of us. I look at the sun through the corridor of the bus. Back here it’s still a normal world, with people chatting, listening to music, with clocks, days, years, distances, buses and meaning. But there, into the light, everything disappears into nothingness. And this light bewilders me, enraptures me with hypnotic power. I cannot turn my eyes away, I cannot run away from the immense force of this incandescent black whole which seems to absorb everything.


And fast, almost without me noticing, the sun fades behind the mountains. The last piece of it disappears behind the horizon, as an eye slowly closing, leaving behind it wonderful warm colors of red, orange and grey. The ground gets dark, fading into the night, but the sky still keeps for some time the memory of the incredible turmoil which just has happened to the west.

I start thinking about my life, about where I am now in my life. Yes, I am really in Iran, I am really on a trip around the world. And in this moment I am alone – it is me, just me. There is nothing and nobody else, all that I can feel now inside of me is all I have; and I will carry it with me around the world. I feel utterly free and utterly alone – in the same time. But I am ok with this feeling of loneliness: I always thought that in the end we are alone, that in this world you can share moments with others, but that ultimately, in our most inner self, in our core hearts, we will be alone.

I thing about my future life, about what it would be. I wouldn’t like this trip that I am taking, now, at 30, to be the highlight of my life. I am thinking why not take another sabbatical year when I am 60? Wouldn’t that be nice? I try to open up my heart and my senses and to probe the future in order to understand how this other one-year trip would be like. How would I be like at 60? How would I taste then a trip around the world?

And I start sensing in my body that part of me that experiences the world and that I feel will remain the same throughout my life. As if I can feel that woman traveling around the world at 60 in the body of the 30 year-old woman who is now coming back from Shiraz and looking at the colors of the sunset. I feel that my most inner self, that part of me that in this moment I start feeling, that I let expand and inhabit me, will not change. It will be the same.

And, instantly, I feel terrified. As if I am on the top of a cliff and I am about to jump into fin air. 60 seems so much closer to death. Another 10 or 20 years. Close to the not-being, to the unknown. I feel the ground disappearing from under my feet. My heart stops beating for a few seconds and I cannot breathe. I feel the death that is in my body.

This is how it should be, I know. Death is inevitably braided in our bodies the day we are born. And it is not that I think that existence stops when the body dies. But I do think that after death there is a different existence, a different way of experiencing life. And the woman I am now, the 60-year-old woman that I feel in my body, they love this life and they love living it, with all its ups and downs, its suffering and joy.

I bring air into my lungs and breathe slowly, with the pain and the memory of death still inside of me. After having occupied my whole being, my whole body, the feeling of all this naturally and gradually disappears.

It has been a long time since I didn’t live such an acute feeling of death. I almost thought that this fear of dying faded away or was replaced with my trust into the existence. How foolish sometimes we are. As every fear or pattern that we have inside of us, it is still there. Maybe it does not have (anymore) the power to dictate your every movement, maybe it is just so dim that you cannot see it in the light of every day life. But in the shivering light of the sunset it can re-appear. It is there, it will always be there. And all I can do is acknowledge it. Let it be and witness it.