Part 2, continued from reflecting on my time at La Terra Agriturismo, in Maggio 2021
Click here to start with Part 1 – Travel: When It’s About the Inner Journey
Now I sit here in Maggio 2022, from within a version of Stockholm that I don’t yet know – one that is blossoming exuberantly into a life of vivid greens, punctuated by drops of white and purple. As if a painter has flung his brush across the wind, scattering pinpoints of color across the landscape. Only the drops of color are not paint, but the drooping stars of flowers with names I know not, eagerly opening their faces to follow the sun.
It’s from within this transition of the seasons, la primavera, which I seem to always miss in the whirl of transitions between continents – that I’m seeing that, yet again, another year has passed. Surrounded by stacks of notebooks, I take myself on tour after tour, through photos that have gathered dust within my hard drives. I’m chasing words from the past. Like a balloon floating away on the wind, my fingers reach from an outstretched arm, desperate to snatch hold before they depart from the elusive unreliability of mere memory.
My focus these last weeks has been on walking down memory lane, looking at journals and photos from a year ago, spent in Firenze and at an agriturismo balanced on the edge of Umbria and Toscana – an attempt to take myself back in time to write all of the stories that were at the center of the intention behind my travels in the first place. Stories written in real time, which always seem to be hijacked by the delusional belief that if I sink fully into the presence of this moment, right here & right now, in unfamiliar territories, I can absorb so much more.
Logic tells me that the more I absorb without the distraction of real-time documentation, the more easy it will be to write stories of depth from the comforts & familiarity of “home.” Memory, surely, will suffice.
Besides – logic tells me – I can write from anywhere in the world. Why take myself out of presence so rich, to sit with a machine, when I could be spending time with people filled with lively exuberance?
And yet, in over a decade of telling myself this, & almost two decades as an international traveler, not once has this worked.
Part of saturating yourself in the depth of every story is a requisite to infuse the written narrative with feelings & observations that you can only capture within that moment.
Logic, as per usual, is superseded by a deeper truth that defies it.
As I attempt to turn back the clock, I’ve become acutely aware of an uncomfortable truth.
Somewhere along the journey, my love of storytelling transitioned from actual, real-life experiences boasting dynamic characters & rich dialogue, to the never-ending unfolding of the inner journey.
“Wherever you go, there you are.” Damn those cliché sayings for holding so much hard truth!
The uncomfortable truth being that though time has passed, I’ve remained caught in the same net of endless questioning around life & my place in the world.
When I peel back the layers to get to the core of my identity, I fail to find answers that reflect so many years of questioning, and instead find a pulsating question mark.
“Let curiosity be the compass that guides you,” but perhaps, I should add a disclaimer to be wary of letting it drag you into an abyss if you lose grip on the tangible reality.
As scenery has changed from mountains to beaches to rolling hills to forests, and the language has shifted between my native tongue, a North Germanic language that I have truthfully never cared to learn, and a Romance language that has forever enchanted me – I have carried the constant questions of my mind with me. A weight that, over time, has become heavier than my physical baggage, and louder than the foreign conversations I have always found joy in eavesdropping upon.
(With my most recent visit to the US, being surrounded by English speakers, I realized how much of a simple pleasure I feel in being surrounded by conversations I can’t understand – what a pleasure for the ears to be liberated of picking up on annoying gossip).
I look through my journals from 365 days and 2397,6 km away,
and see that I have almost zero writings anchored in real-time: events that actually occurred, interactions with people, or conversations that unfolded. In their place, instead I stare at transcripts of endless question marks revolving around life and my place in the world.
In creating an empty blank slate that is now my life after erasing most things from it (with 41 days of self-prescribed human isolation time – written story soon to come), I’ve peeled back layer after layer after layer, to find a giant question mark spinning at the center of my existence.
I’ve looked a my life to ask myself what is at the core of it, when all external things, people and places are erased.
Life requires a healthy amount of questioning and introspection, it is true. One of the landmarks of my Ethos, after all, is to let curiosity be the compass that guides you. But, there is a healthy amount of questioning, and there is an abyss that will consume you into nothingness if you lose grip on your place in reality.
Now as I look over writings spanning over years, I see the same questions. The same uncertainties. The same feeling that I’ve always been searching for something outside of myself.
Which leads me and reminds me of another reflection from a year ago: that walking through my life with a feeling of uncertainty at the core is not enriching my life in any way.
This search, this giant question mark – I can see that it’s holding me back more than it’s moving me forward. I’m not finding answers, but instead it’s hijacked all of my attention so that I’ve missed out on pieces of life staring me directly in the face.
The connection of an eye gaze, an invitation.
I talk about intimacy, but when it presents itself, I flee into the safety of my imagination. Intimacy is safer when it’s experienced between you and your Self.
I thought the questioning was taking me so many layers deeper, but now I see that it reflects the lyric, “did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?” How many people and experiences have I missed in this endless search focused inward?
In the end, the endless questions feel like the constant over-explanation of oneself. In the sense that both serve as a subconscious apology for existing in the unique way that you do.
Instead of asking and searching, why don’t I instead choose to accept myself and sink deeper? To choose to fully step into myself – truly unapologetically – and stop asking why why why why.
“Because it’s right.” Period.
It is right. It is the path. Your journey. It is because it is. It is the way – your way.
Isn’t that enough?