"You must create the right kind of dream, the sober, adult kind of magic. Illusion born of disillusion." S.Plath
I think by now, we can all agree that lying on internet is a part of our new normal. Hopefully the Generation Z will go through life with some sort of a social media awareness and breathe more easily than us, millennials, who are still trapped in comparing ourselves to what we see online, and embellishing ourselves online in a bid to match what we see. Well, fiction is relatively easy. In America, you pay for a course that gives you an exact formula for a successful fiction bestseller. A hero's journey. Exposition, action on the page 20, complication, climax on the page 142, fall, catastrophy. As anything in life vs how USA tries to sell you life - the first will always challenge the latter. You'll sell books with this arc. But unlocking the mystery of life is not just a '$1200 online drama writing certificate' away.
It seems to me that in life, we follow cycles of when we crave stability and comfort, and when we detonate it. Perhaps this spiralic dance is the only way to ensure our continuous evolution. Heck, not even those stupid fucking cats would drink from stagnant water sources in nature. Water bodies with little to no movement are soon riddled with bacteria & algae; lack of movement literally equals disease & death. And aren't we humans like 70% of water?
In the autumn of 2019, me & my partner lost our minds & left our perfectly safe & sane life & careers in England for the perfectly unsafe & insane life on the road. I resent the ‘work hard/play hard’ social media narratives, they’re damaging, dangerous & above all - untrue. When we embarked on this against-the-odds journey to discover the world and ourselves, I - your regular vintage-filter loving millennial - made a promise to deliver the unembellished truth of it all - via my social media and my blog.
We sailed around the world for the price of 12hrs shifts onboard the famous ocean liner Queen Mary 2, dreaming up of saving some money to continue our journey east, perhpas India?
This, of course, lasted only until the tinniest microscopic virus brought the mighty humanity to their knees in the first weeks of 2020. Four months into our journey of a lifetime, with our contracts terminated early, our seafaring entry point into the world & our only home at that time, spat us out back on the UK soil. A country, that in the meantime ceased to be a part of European Union, unrecognizable & devoid of all the things we knew & loved, with our friends locked inside their homes; self-isolating with the rest of the world.
With everything slowing down to a halt, it took us over a month to be able to drag our confused and exhausted selves a few inches to the east on this big playing board - seeking some solace with David's family in France. Traveling in between countries, for a couple that's not legaly recognized as such, in the midst of a covid panic, is a (horror)story in its own right.
David is turning 30 in a few days and his hometown of Poitiers is the last place on earth he'd choose to be at (heck, we had big plans for his 30th birthday, but then the Universe took all of the humanity's plans for 2020 and dumped a pile of poo on top of them). Still, we felt so relieved when we arrived at his parents...I mean, at some point, it seemed really unclear whether we'd ever be able to rejoin our families abroad at all!
It sadly lasted only 30mins. We took a shower and been called to dinner straight away, during which David's parents tore him a second, third, fourth and fifth asshole. The whole 'what did you expect' he knew so well from five years ago, when he announced his moving to London. Think back to Ingmar Bergman's movies. Or Dogma 95 movement. Visceral, raw, unedited scenes that are hard to watch and always last longer than you'd wish for. Imagine a standing, shouting French argument: mum, dad and David, with no subtitles and Kuba from Rajec, Czech Republic sitting there looking into his empty plate (so hungry!) for 50 minutes. Happy 30 birthday, David.
But alas, this is a somewhat universal self-torture preset, not at all unique to those of us who decide to do their hero's journey later in life.
I cannot help but wonder if perhaps our need for our parents validation and the subsequent realization that we can't possibly live authentically and fit into our parents expectations at the same time, but continue to live anyway, is a sine qua non of our soul's growth?
Like a heartbreak. Something you wish no one had to go through, but something you know is a mandatory part of the curriculum of having a human experience on this planet. Something that sucks balls, but elevates you going forward. The necessary contraction before the big exhale in your expansion. I'm sure there's a tarot card for that.
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” K. Vonnegut
Almost two months later, things seem to be settling down a bit. At least on the surface. We understood that the lynching is just a way how parents of their generation display care, worry & support. We understood that 'showing your parents you can and will do your life differently' only works as long as you can afford to turn down their support, and only as long as you don't crave their validation. Which you do. All the fucking time.
We're starting to understand that we've got some serious work to do here.
For David, coming back to this place; family dynamic, systems & structures and people he left behind - and facing all of his old demons, is a sort of a spiritual homework . It seems like a big cosmic deja vu, but remember - no man can enter the same river twice - because it's not the same river, and you're not the same man. There's a big opportunity here to heal some wounds that needed tending...a big clearing, so that he can travel more freely, with a lightness in his step, when we finally embark on our journey again.
Finding English speaking jobs in a small city in France, is a mission impossible. I cannot contribute, I cannot take care of myself, let alone start any sort of savings for when we're ready to leave here and travel again. Surrounded by people, who are not on the same journey, who perhaps never thought of living 'on the road', who try really hard to convince you that being pinned to a particular place and a particular Monday to Friday full time job, is the only way to move through life, it chips away from my confidence a bit every day. Add to it the fact I've lost the number one thing I define myself by - my ability to show myself and witness the world through communication, through language - I'm starting to witness myself slouching more, speaking less, making less eye contact and - of course - recognizing myself less.
I'm starting to understand that I'll always need to hold a spiky duality inside of myself. Can you detest the tyranny of capitalism and still sometimes crave a bathtub session with an expensive skincare ritual? ..bathtub that is yours - because you pay the rent - because that's how you decide to spend the money your Monday to Friday job generates?
Perhaps the freedom of 'anything is possible' also produces an existential paralysis some days, which makes you feel like nothing is possible.
Can you be on the road, free of the shackles, that pin you to a specific place and a specific way of life, and still sometimes feel utterly shit?
Yes, you can.
But you also can hold both truths inside. Which I think is my homework at this stage of the hero's journey.
Instead of looking outside the window at the panorama of Poitiers & feeling like facing an unpenetrable fortress, I think: how lucky this particular stretch of land to bare witness to our journey, our fears, our doubts and our little victories.
On the first night we arrived here, after the severe family argument, depleted, doubtful & just profoundly hopeless, we'd hit the bed in an empty room in his parents cellar. A dusty old, French print of Jack Kerouakc's 'On the Road' left forgotten by someone on the bedside table. A few days later, on David's 30th birthday, we asked the Universe to give us a sign, any sign for fucksake, to see if this was a right path for us. And we took a walk. And we run into this abandoned wagon.
Life has a way of taking care of you, no matter how dark it can sometimes feel.