What has the journey taught me?

2000 days of hangover-free, personal growth. Moving from self-loathing and into self-love. 2000 days of learning, reflecting, processing, releasing and understanding. A 2000 day journey from misery to liberation and contentment. The constant barrage of negativity that bombarded my psyche with the ferocity of a howitzer has fallen silent. An amnesty that I thought was impossible. I never thought peace would be possible. I have created a sanctuary of serenity and thanks to the journey of the last 2000 days I have learned to set boundaries. Any drama merchants are ushered away. Chaos is no longer the way I get my kicks. I used to believe that it was required to add meaning to my boring life. I used to believe that to have a steady demeanour was to flat line. Now, drama and chaos are unwelcome to the point of being offensive. I no longer need the distraction from my own mind.

To coincide with this milestone I have ticked off another dream. Another item off the itinerary of things I never thought I would experience for real; the pyramids of Giza. The question I asked myself after this experience was “What am I getting out of this?” I mean it would be easy to fly around the world taking selfies next to objects I had no prior claim to and pass it off as some success…

Look what I didn’t build…

Is that really the achievement? It seems a little empty if that is what I am doing it for. If all I am collecting are photos for the “Gram” to demonstrate my value on a social level or demonstrating to the world how “awesome” my life is, then it seems a little pointless. If those are the reasons then I am back to people-pleasing and I worked so hard to get away from that.

There has to be more to it than that. So what is it?

Firstly, I am just happy not to go to work for six months. The last time I had six months of work I had major depression and couldn’t leave the house. So this is a marked improvement.

Secondly, the journey to get here has been a difficult one for me. Like turning the Titanic it has taken a lot of focus and determination to step out of that life and into this one. So much work has gone into changing my psyche and outlook that I feel like I am closer to the best version of myself. That is all I ever wanted when I vowed to turn it around.

When I was slumped on a bar, slurring about all the wonderful places in the world, I never thought I would make it. It seemed so far away. It still does. The fact that I have walked around these places still takes a little bit of accepting. The emotions I feel when I’m there is the reminder of why I keep going. Whether it’s the childlike joy of seeing the pyramids, the pure intoxicating magic of seeing Macchu Pichu from the sun gate or the moments that remind me how far I’ve come such as when I approached the natural beauty of the Grand Teton mountains. The people I meet and the connections I make along the way, it all combines to make the decision to change my life the right one. The freedom I now have is only possible thanks to sobriety and the work I have put in.

Thirdly, I have come to realise that most people are the same. The majority of people are dictated to by the parameters set within the culture they are born. Many cultures use different techniques to control the people that live within the parameter… or borders. Some use religion, some use advertising but all use fear. Regardless of the culture, the people that live within it are very similar. Many will defend the culture that they live within and profess it to be the “right” way to live. Many are exploitative. Many have problems. Some are twisted and poison. Some are psychotic. Most are caring. And the majority just want to get through life and have a good time, by the standards that they define as having a good time. This isn’t ideological nonsense. It is just an observation. Yes, there are some twisted fuckers in the world but they are not as prevalent as they are made out to be. Now that doesn’t mean I’m going to start dancing through Syria wearing a tutu whilst professing evil to be an illusion. But it does mean that the world isn’t quite as bad as it is made out to be. Maybe if we stopped believing so much of the negativity that is poured out into our lives and spent a bit time getting to know one another instead of living in fear, then the world might not seem such a bad place.

Most of the ancient places I have visited throughout my travels used fear to control the citizens and even though the methods have got more advanced in time, the fact remains that fear is still used today. Fear of not being good enough, fear of starvation, fear of ostracization, fear of failure, fear of damnation, the list is endless but the reasons are the same; production, control and division. In the Mayan cultures, when the farming was done the building started. It is said that the pyramids of Egypt were built by “free” men, not slaves. Keeping people busy stops them from thinking. Thinking people are dangerous people who start to question. A group of thinking people get things changed.

Now we are less busy physically but mentally exhausted with constant stimulation to keep us from reflecting. Whether that’s about the world at large or our own drives. Such as why do we do the things we do? And are we leading our lives the way we would like or are we being lead through life?

Fourthly, I have learned to be grateful. The El Camino taught me to appreciate cold drinking water and having a warm shower. I also learned that I really didn’t need many possessions to be happy. This was further reinforced by visiting countries with a lot of poverty. Even though people are struggling they still seem happy and make the best of a bad situation. It’s always jarring after being in a place like that to come back to London and see the people with $1000 mobile phones and $300 headphones, looking miserable as they scroll through the adverts for the newer versions of the things they just bought. After walking part of the Portuguese Camino from Porto to Santiago I went back to London and I genuinely thought there had been a national tragedy because of the demeanour of the people. I was bouncing with positive energy like a new age tigger after spending 10 days walking through little Portuguese towns and being engaged in the moment. Yet being back in the city was like stumbling from a wedding into the funeral next door. That might be tainted by my view of being in a city though.

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth.

Steve McQueen

We have an abundance of shit in our lives and an abundance of problems. Surely we can see that more stuff isn’t the answer. Maybe more, deeper meaningful connections based on compassion and not fear. Let’s try that. We tried more technology and it only seems to be hastening the problems. Self-entitlement seems to be on the rise and gratitude is on the decline. Maybe practising a little bit of appreciation for the things that we take for granted could change our outlooks for the better. When I worked in a care home with severely disabled children I used to moan about my life all the time. That was until I realised how lucky I was to have my faculties.

The Inca trail made me grateful for my mobility. I felt lucky to have made that journey to Macchu Pichu. It also made me realise that a lot of the things we are taught in school is utter horseshit presented as fact. A large part of our history is unknown and mostly opinion. Such as how Machu Picchu was built. Or the Egyptian pyramids.

Just look at the size of the stones. Vines?

The older I get and the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know.

Finally, I wanted to see if I was capable of being on my own for a long period of time without falling foul of my previous addictions. Basically, I wanted to see if I was no longer the victim of my past. So far so good. I am no longer Charlie the alcoholic. I am just Charlie. A content individual who climbed off a barstool 2000 days ago and said: “I’m tired of this shit.” My sobriety didn’t start quite like that I mean I was smashed to pieces in more ways than one and was on my knees praying to anyone and everyone for assistance. There was no divine intervention but there was plenty of help from wonderful people. I had to push myself to change. I had to be open and honest with them and myself. I had to keep going when I didn’t want to and I had to face some fears. Has it all been worth it?

Well, let’s just say I can’t wait to see what day 2001 brings along.

Thanks for reading & Buen Camino,


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