On Becoming Gilligan: Migratory Musings of a Mind

by LJ Frank

“Human beings are like rivers; the water is one and the same in all of them but every river is narrow in some places, flows swifter in others; here it is broad, there still, or clear, or cold, or muddy or warm. It is the same with men. Every man bears within him the germs of every human quality, and now manifests one, now another, and frequently is quite unlike himself, while still remaining the same man.”   ― Resurrection, Leo (Lev Nikolayevich) Tolstoy (1899)

He was a friend who disappeared one day in Indonesia. He once said of his mind that it migrated over the years from seemingly innocent possibilities to the ambiguous and to fantasy. Like me he traveled farther in his mind than the physical miles he voyaged around the globe. I understood. I have been to remote places in East and Central Asia, to the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, United Kingdom, and the Americas. Still, I have traveled farther in my mind.

Once you leave home to distant places, you can never really return to that home, except in your mind.

He and I both loved to venture and discover. My ultimate dream was to have a sailboat anchored several meters from my beach house where I would write and paint, toasting a glass of wine with an enchanting mariposa. I am not cheap, but I am easy. I have my own contemporary atypical version of Gilligan from that old television show (Gilligan’s Island) in the 1960s”. That is, the story and characters are stereotypical and obvious which tends to be comforting. We know what to expect.  Not so of reality.

The last location I heard from my friend was East Java. He vanished after that someplace. Perhaps Tasmania or New Zealand for all I know. He was labeled as an expatriate. So was I. And I find little gratification in labels. Labels are the workings of a mind that doesn’t delve into the psyche, nor the situation or context of culture and experience. To label or categorize someone for one or a few experiences and then extrapolate it to an entire life is misleading.  It’s the workings of an undiscerning mind. The crowd tends to obscure vision. I am drawn to people who are uncertain of the world around them and experiment. Sometimes the exploration is painful but alive, imaginative, sensual, and thought-provoking.

The human mind is profoundly complex. Our experiences, biology, language, culture, and knowledge are among our filters. Those filters can get clogged when filled with disinformation, misinformation, and ignorance. Illiteracy sets in…and to me illiteracy is a form of knowledge suicide. Our actions and beliefs are affected.

Humans are cell based and we are filled with microbes. What is the nature of the cells that effectuate an action? When was the first development of an ethical decision among the nomadic tribes? Does our microbial makeup a factor in our choice, senses, and sensuality?  The evidence?  My body contains uncountable microbes…as is with all humans. Our microbes affect our outlook and attitude and attraction to each other. Do our microbes help determine our will beyond our culture or are they both interrelated?

When I sense that I don’t fit into a place or with a people should I consider the relevancy of the microbes in my body?

All humans are passersby on planet Earth. We are all different at different times in our life…nothing is static. We evolve and change.  Experiencing other people may help to shred labels that follow people around like a tag on a coat. Are you silk, wool, or nylon, and who was your manufacturer?

How much of our internal microbes teach us that adaptation is essential for survival, growth, cooperation, and love? How do our microbes affect our actions in deciding whether to stay or leave? Is there a focal point in the brain filled with microbes that aid in determining the nature of will? Are our actions and words a matter of karma or fate embedded in our biology?

I experiment, explore, and adapt. There are days I feel like an expatriate no matter where I am at. So, I return to the idea of a sailboat and beach house and my non-stereo-typical version of a 21st Century Gilligan.