It was once said that “writing is easy. All you have to do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.” Or something to that effect. I guess then that this is me searching for a vein. Searching for some beauty to pour onto paper. Or anything to express… something. The lack of routine, it pains me to say, is having an effect on my writing. I would write often when at home but now I am so pressed for time that I don’t make time to write. Yet I feel it inside yearning to let out. It is part of the routine that I have cultivated that keeps me on the straight and narrow. Writing, along with meditation, exercise and wellness, are the tools that allow me to travel. These things are my tools. Thankfully they are not location-dependent and I can practice one of, if not all of, them anywhere.
They are the brush that allows me to keep my side of the street clean. A compact, pocket-sized survival guide. Simple yet effective.
I am thankfull I have those tools. Yesterday, I believed that $70 had been stolen out of my rucksack in a hotel. I was annoyed but instead of flying off the handle I just took a moment. I took a moment to process the anger, some of which was aimed at myself for being naïve and leaving money in an insecure location. After a while, the waters inside had calmed and the ripples abated. I wanted to point fingers and fly off the handle but I figured it would do no good. Thankfully, I didn’t because when I checked my other bag it was in there. By the time I checked, I had already concluded that it was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. To find it again was a nice surprise and also a reminder that my emotions are still there. That I will still be tested when I am even having the time of my life. Also, that my emotions can get the better of me and that can ruin my day, week, vacation if I let it.
The things I am doing currently and the places I am visiting is hard to take in. I am seeing places that I only dreamed of. Places like Tikal, Guatemala. It’s almost like a movie set. It is so magical. The wildlife choruses around the site as I walk around, which adds another layer of wonder. The life that the builders of these mystical places had must have been horrific. Lifting and carrying enormous blocks on their backs in hot and humid conditions must have been unbearable. Their hard work isn’t lost on me as I take in the sights with awe. I try to get a feel for the place but the constant chatter of the people around me is a distraction. Can’t people be quiet for a second? Just a second to appreciate the magic that is available to us in that very moment. They stand on a temple in Guatemala yet talk about places far away from here. In the brief interludes of nonsense, silence fills the air. Bringing with it a sense of serenity and peace. Only for it to be lost on the words of someone. It remains me of the chaos that used to batter my mind like a tornado. The manic monkey running rampant, constantly taking me out of the moment and into another world. It doesn’t take much to calm it down but many people find it easier to blame the world than to shoulder the blame. Facing the inner demons is scary but like many things, the fear is just an illusion.
I climb down from the temple in search of a bit of peace. In the hope of feeling what it is to stand in this magical place. I spot a temple that has either collapsed or was unfinished. Nature has taken it over and regained its place. Much of life is the same; we are at war with nature for space. The earth isn’t ours it is just on loan from nature. Many places show that without us nature returns and restores life to areas that we had made lifeless. The ongoing battle reminds me of temptation. The world is constantly serving up offers to appease our hedonistic desires. Alcohol, nicotine, drugs, sex, food, shopping are only a fingertip away for many now. Without control of that manic monkey running wild, I am not in control. I am at the behest of those desires. The desires that dictated my life for so long. I would point the finger and blame life for my problems. I knew deep down that I was the fucking problem but I just didn’t have the courage to look inward. I was a coward. Then one day I decided to try. For that, I am very grateful. I give a lot of thanks to people but often forget to thank myself. This is through the fear of becoming arrogant. I worked hard to shake off the arrogance that filled my life. Back when I thought life owed me favour yet my inner world was one of a coward. I swaggered through life with a false front, a mask, hiding the child inside. I thank myself now for attempting to change, having the tenacity to see it through and to reap the reward. I am content and comfortable in my own skin. For that I am grateful.
I answer the same questions often regarding my past. “Why don’t you drink? Did you used to?” The story I tell is getting shorter. It isn’t my story anymore. It is slipping away. The past is a bolder residing somewhere. It is no longer holding me back. The Mayans carried huge stones on their backs for the entirety of their short lives. Mentally many of us do the same. Shoulder the burden of some previous interaction or experience and allow it to taint the pallette of our future. The thoughts of the experience and the experience are separated. The thoughts can be changed the experience cannot. It can be released. I cannot even begin to explain how I treated myself mentally. The words that I would use to describe myself to myself. I would not tolerate it from another person yet I tolerated it from myself for two decades nearly. It would be easy to sit and moan about how I used to talk to myself internally but why dwell? My life is in front of me now.
I have been blessed with a shit life, so said, Charles Bukowski. I tend to agree. The trails and tribulations. The tests and moments of despair were like a chisel to a block of marble. Each one another part of the complete product. At the time I would bemoan my misfortune and cry foul of life. I would consume more in the belief that it was the key to happiness. The same as banging my head against the wall and expecting it to cure my headache. More and more stuff. More and more displeasure. I didn’t see it at the time but it was a path I had to walk down. I had to try it to realise it wasn’t for me. I knew it deep down but I needed proof. It wasn’t until I proclaimed that enough was enough that contentment became accessible. The illusionary competition that is played out on a daily basis seemed redundant when I realised there is no winner. Ultimately we are here for a finite amount of time. Why spend it in a state of misery if you don’t have to?
When I first stopped drinking I thought I would be free but I realised that debt was keeping me from being free. It was a chain that stopped me being free. An anxiety-inducing one to boot. I would worry about paying my bills. Then I realised that I was a fool. A fool borrowing money to buy shit I didn’t need. Purely because I was too much of a coward to pursue the life I wanted.
Freedom is an interesting concept that has perplexed philosophers and thinkers throughout the ages. Currently, we are free to buy. Where once we were free to build. Freedom maybe existed before the creation of societies. I find the modern lifestyle of consumption detrimental to my human spirit. It is dehumanising. The idea of putting economics in front of human interests has to be dehumanising by its very nature. By design. People consume everything, “How many countries have you been to?” is a question I hear. Why? When did that become a competition as well? Why does no one ask “What have you learned? How has it changed you? Have the experiences you have had ignited your soul? Have they broken down your very being and made you question the very nature of existence?” Or is it just another list? Another thing to say?
All of what I used to think was important is unravelling. Football and politics were things I once held dear. Now I see them as another tactic to separate. Logging into facebook shows this clearly playing out.
Away from all of that, I am left with my core. My ability to connect with other human beings and share moments of great beauty and wonder. I am beginning to understand what it means to be present. In this moment, nearly everything in life is out of my control. All I can do is point myself in the direction I wish to travel and control is my reaction to circumstances that arise along the way. Things are as important as I chose to make them. I am liberated. I am alive. I am maybe the closest I will ever be to being free.