Dharma Bums, On the Road, and Howl

On this partly cloudy Sunday morning in Brazil, I was able to wake up and read excerpts from three great Beat generation books: Dharma Bums and On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and Howl by Allen Ginsberg. Bringing these books were quite deliberate: they continually emphasize living in the moment. I have tried to continually plan out every second of my time here, yet I started to lose sight about where I was and what I was doing.

I started to let time pass, and not live in every moment. I decided to make some sort of change after picking up on this behavior, and allowed myself to live in the present at every second. I started talking to people who walked by me, attempting to immerse myself in every aspect of Brazilian culture. Whether that be complaining over a poor call at the soccer game, or talking with the waiter at a restaurant, attempting to make small talk, I see the changes I made already making this experience far better than it could have been.

With this new attitude and outlook, Brazil became much more beautiful. At first glance, seeing the older buildings, favelas, and other things we have taken for granted in America, one can think that there is no beauty to a place like this. There is, however, a community and bond between people that I cannot understand, one that is much more beautiful than anything I can say I’ve seen. An example would be just yesterday, as I walked in the elevator with an older woman, she immediately began to talk to me about how the doors are too difficult to lock (this is the only part I was able to catch in the fast Portuguese she was speaking in), and while all I could do was look at her with the most clueless face and give her a quick thumbs up (the most essential gesture one needs when traveling to Brazil), she seemed to be satisfied with our encounter and went along on her merry way.

It is encounters like this that occur everyday for me, and it shows the culture that the Brazilians share with one another. There doesn’t seem to be any secrets here. People are very open with one another, and no one is a stranger within their community. You say good morning to everyone you see, and there are hardly ever exceptions. People you just met suddenly become your best friend, and wish to know everything about you. There is no such thing as “too much information”.

I still have so much to learn about Brazil, yet I see myself being immersed in this culture already. Immersion is something that can come to you, but one must seek it out as well. As long as I live in the moment and seek out this immersion, I believe I can become a member of this very open community.