Sunday, July 15, 2007

Different Eyes See Different Things

It's Sunday afternoon and I've been home from Peru for about 4 days now. It's been a week since my second surgery--held in a hotel room at the 3rd Annual Shamanic Conference in Iquitos--and I'm still weak. Not thinking too clearly either, and what I'm thinking about is the big trip I had in June. 22 days in the jungle and the mountains, with lots of traditional medicine, from ayahuasca to San Pedro. The medicine, in fact, was the point of the journey, and I thought my 13 guests knew that.
Somehow, they didn't. At least not all of them. Now that we're all home, several have written the company that secures the guests for me: thus far three have written notes of extreme appreciation: They thought I essentially did magic, putting them in close proximity with wonderful curanderos who were able to affect great changes in their lives in a very short time. They found wonder in bathing in the river, seeing dolphins surface for air, in the night time jungle sky, in wandering in the streets of Lima and chewing coca leaves in Cuzco. They found Ayahuasca and San Pedro to be both agents of enlightenment and fantastic visceral medicines. In shourt, they found the trips well worth while and didn't spend a whole lot of time during or after them thinking about me, the trip leader.
But there were also four letters, one representing a couple, in which I was not just a demon, but someone who endangered them, offended them, and who must be stopped like a virus.
Their complaints run from the quality of the hotels we used to the fact that we had no showers in the Amazon, from my choice of eateries--the best in each city--to my unwillingness to allow them beer while in the jungle.
And those I can live with . They indicate people who simply didn't read the brochure, and three admit they didn't. But then there were also complaints with no foundation in reality: One woman complains of what she claims I was thinking about her--she can read minds and knows what I was saying to mysel, and it wasn't nice. Huh? Another waltzed in on a conversation about the age at which some girls in the jungle have their first babies--often very young--and turned that into a complaint that I was discussing a peurile fantasy. What? One complainant suggests that she was barraged by sexual innuendo... Wishful thinking maybe, but pure projection. These complaints get to me because there is no way to stop them. They are such inventions that I can't get them out of my head.
Two friends of mine who were along on the trip understand my frustration and have told me to just forget it. I suppose I should, but my heart has almost never been heavier from words alone. These people pay an enormous amount of money to come with me out to the jungle and into the Peruvian highlands and and when I fail so utterly with them I feel awful. Can't change things, but I feel awful.
And getting angry at them for their emotional baggage, their refusal to see the magic around them on the trips wouldn't do any good. As far at they're concerned they bought into a bogus trip.
So I'm left with this: That people going on the same ride will wind up seeing it very differently from one another. Some call it magic, some call it wretched. It's no wonder it's so darned difficult to make peace in this world. Different eyes see the same things differently.

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