What Can I Say?

Of this I am absolutely sure: Do not reach the era of child-rearing and real jobs with a guitar case full of crushing regret for all the things you wished you’d done in your youth. I know too many people who didn’t do those things. They all end up mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions of the people they intended to be. – Cheryl Strayed

I didn’t want to get married and have children. I didn’t want to be a wife or a mother. Or anything domesticated. I want to be Sinbad, Scully, Stephen King, Steve McQueen, Eric The Phantom and Indiana Jones or anything in between as long as it doesn’t spell boring. I want to be John Snow, Spirit of the Cimmaron Lara Croft and Aragorn. I want to be a gypsy child in the midst of Bohemianism.

To take the world as one finds it, the bad with the good, making the best of the present moment—to laugh at Fortune alike whether she be generous or unkind—to spend freely when one has money, and to hope gaily when one has none—to fleet the time carelessly, living for love and art— for in Bohemia one may find almost every sin save that of Hypocrisy. [source: Wikipedia]

What, then, is it that makes this mystical empire of Bohemia unique, and what is the charm of its mental fairyland? It is this: there are no roads in all Bohemia! One must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life. — Ayloh, 1902

Look where I am now!

But then again, I have lived a thousand lives others can’t even imagine in their wildest dreams. I’ve’ walked to hell and back, visited heaven and been everywhere in between. People often say I’ve been there done that when what they really meant is they know how it feels to stand at the edge of a crater but they never really experience how it is to descend to the bottom. I can honestly say I did. Countless times.

In my dying bed, I will not lie there and regret everything I should have done but never dare or tried because I know for a fact that compared to most, I have lived a colorful life, even though none of those are the ones I truly wanted.

Being Nomadic

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

― Christopher McCandless

Who Says That Only Trolls Live Under A Bridge?

We did for a while when I was a kid. Sort of a halfway house when my father was between jobs. It wasn’t that bad really. I didn’t dislike it. Only when the naughty kids in the neighborhood dropped logs from the top of the bridge during high tide and our little place and meager belongings became wet that I sometimes wish we were somewhere else. For the rest, I never recall feeling ashamed of our situation. Maybe because I wasn’t aware that time yet how important social status is and how much it affects how others see and treat you. Wealth, in this society, means respect. In my experience, people treat you better when you are rich. But when I was growing up I didn’t feel I was different than the rest. I did quite enjoyed it actually. Especially the freedom that comes with being dirt poor. More adventures to experience, more spaces to explore, less rules to abide. What could be better than that?

We left the sanctuary of the bridge after one night while my mother was peeing in the corner of our one-room abode, a large hairy hand suddenly burst through the weaved coconut fronds wall and tried to choke her. She was screaming her heart out and we just stood there doing nothing. How stupid is that? The incident caught us by surprise I guess. I don’t know. We were just kids and probably scared shitless. Help was called shortly afterwards. They chased and looked for the owner of the mystery hairy hand but without success. There were extraordinarily large footprints but no evidence who might have caused them. We moved to a barrack inside the fishpond the same night, and that was the start of another adventure. But that is for another blog post.

Soon.

Till next time.

An Open Letter To Those Who Have No Ambition, No Goals, And No Dreams

I get it. I get the feelings of emptiness, the feeling of pointlessness, even the hell of having given it your all and failed.

I get the unhappiness, the self-recrimination, the fear, the frustration, the confusion, and the sick irony that you know you would be amazing if the world made even just a little sense.

Because it’s not that you don’t have ambitions, goals, and dreams; those dreams just haven’t fit into the slots and boxes of old systems and preconceived notions.

You don’t even consider yourself a maverick in any kind of way. What kind of narcissistic fool actively thinks of themselves as a maverick? But, well, the world attaches a lot of silly stuff to ambitions, goals, and dreams.

You’re supposed to be type-A go-getter material! On the job, on the climb, networking, branching and leaning in and synergizing and earning plaudits before eventually winding up on the lecture circuit telling others in your field how they, too, can follow your path.

You’re supposed to reach for the moon, grab it, sell condos on it, then off to Venus for the next round of real estate.

But what if your ambition is simply to live? And by live, I mean experience each moment by being inside each moment, not with an eye for future benefits.

My guess is you’ve heard a variation of the “If he’d only apply himself, he could be a star” speech of concern from family and friends, which assumes that money and stature are your goals.

And because you’re not seeking those out, you’re circling the slow drain of impending failure, yes?

Listen to me now and hear me later: if you’re able to live without being a financial or emotional burden on others, you’re already doing something right. Hell, that counts as a huge win in a world which seems intent on grinding 99% of us into usable dust.

On the outside, it might look like you’ve given up, but on the inside, there’s a full-on war. Your mental forces would put Legolas at the battle of Helms Deep to shame.

And don’t act like you haven’t seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Samwise’s speech to the battered and exhausted Frodo has kept you going many a night:

It’s like in the great stories of Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why.

But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.

What looks like no ambition, goals, or dreams to the outside world is a battle to assert and hold on to your place in it.

So don’t give up.

Please don’t give up.

Ambition. Ambition has to come from inside you. It’s not poured into you, it’s not taught by a wise elder. It’s the answer to the question: What are you doing with life itself today?

Only Y-O-U make the effort to bridge the answer to that question outward. If you’ve momentarily forgotten that effort, let me ask this: What do you enjoy? Not just what do you enjoy doing, what do you enjoy, period?

Because whatever that is, it means you want to see more of that in the world. You want people to enjoy it just as much as you.

Somehow, what is inside you has to connect with that increase to make it out into the world.

The cliché is “sharing is caring,” but you do, you freaking care. You want to give people the moon, not for condos, but for the best walk of their lives.

The best ambition in the world is to somehow want to present the world to others in better shape than most find it.

Do you see now that your ambitions are about as awesome as awesome can get? Ennui is temporary; passion, that deep, soul passion, is not.

Some part of you wants to bring about that shared awesomeness. How do we do this? Surefire way: fuse that feeling that you’re gonna burst to an adaptive and flowing plan of action.

That synthesis becomes Goals.

Goals are attainable. Don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t. Don’t buy into the noise of hardship, disappointment, and failure.

The noise is hypnotic; it mires you to stopping points and unfocuses your eyes. The noise is an active deterrent; hardship, disappointment, and failure, however, are not.

There is no way to escape hardship, disappointment, and failure. No running from them. Not for anyone. No matter how well you’ve stretched, how tightly you’ve tied your shoelaces, and how well you know the landscape, you’ll trip.

So how about another cliché? Do you get up?

And after you get up, do you keep going or do you shuffle off to the side so that other runners can get by?

Do you feel foolish for ever having thought you could run?

Doubts. We all have a few. A lot. Guess what? I’m doubting myself right now. I don’t know that I have the tools, know-how, or depth of compassion to reach you… but I won’t stop trying. I haven’t given up on trying.

I suspect neither, have you. People looking at you might think you’ve given up, but they don’t see the wheels turning a thousand miles a minute in your head, trying to figure a way out of a maze of external expectations.

Maybe they’ve forgotten how much it hurts to fall while running, and forgotten that healing takes some time. Maybe they need a reminder that nothing’s over till it’s over. Maybe they need a hundred different comfortable clichés to use as elbow and knee pads next time out.

Maybe you do too.

Or maybe you want to think about who you are, where you want to be, and how to get there. It’s not impossible to do either one of those. You think about it every night. It’s called dreaming. When they say “We have a dream,” it’s just projecting our lives onto a bigger screen.

Basically: Who you gonna be, where you gonna be, and out of all those chances you’ve had to turn back, are you gonna hold on to one and say, “This is now me”?

A Hobbit sitting on the side of the road?

I think not.

That’s not you.

Not when you know there’s magic inside you.

Not when you know you’re a warrior.

Not when you know you have the potential to quest for things barely dreamed of.

Not when you know that if you’re smart enough to rest, you can run any distance ever thought of and that if you’re honest enough to know that you’re hurting, you take the necessary actions to heal.

Samwise didn’t give that speech to Frodo because he had some keen interest in danger and long, arduous journeys. His eyes were on the goal after the danger: home.

“Home” is wherever your sense of possibility and creation waits for you to settle down and dream.

So the question you have to ask yourself is, where do you live?

~Borrowed article from Conscious ReThink

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Backpacker Generation: Why “Leaving it all Behind” doesn’t Work.

By Lauren Klarfeld

What we carry in our backpacks is the weight of our fears.

Some backpacks are made on a swift decision. Others are planned months in advance and ticked off with a checklist. Certain backpacks are made out of choice, and sometimes others are made because we had no choice. Be it to go far or to go hide next door. When we are making a backpack, there is more to it than just physical weight.

As I laid out the remainder of my clothes on an empty table and zipped up my backpack, I knew I was trying to pack a mess. I made a decision almost a year ago that I didn’t want to be committed to an apartment, a contract, rent or a job that didn’t move me. That it had all seemed pointless after so many years to work so many hours, not only to support myself since I was 18 but also to work for things I didn’t always believe in. The home I was in, the job I had and some of the people I knew just didn’t feel like “home” anymore.

What I wanted was the freedom to go whenever I wanted to.

Go incognito and re-invent myself in every new place I was in. Dare to do those things I never felt comfortable doing before. My plan had been to volunteer from hostel to hostel paying no rent in exchange for free labour. The months that followed I walked around a city with the feeling that a weight had been taken off of me. I was alone but I had chosen to be alone. If anything I was a solitaire. And it was liberating for once to look at myself that way.

But like any backpacker, I had given up the vertical ease of a closet where all my clothes had been aligned for years for a horizontal goulash of textile wrapped one under the other. I had come with a full backpack and that was all I allowed myself to carry.

When we see things in such a constrained space or possibility, it somehow gives us perspective on the fact that one needs to be sure of their choices.

Suddenly, we cannot spend two hours trying on different clothes as we struggle with our own image—because there is just no space nor mirrors for us to do. Perfectly ironed t-shirts are a thing of the past too when you travel. And adding things to a backpack becomes a burden as it weighs heavier and heavier. And every time we pick out a t-shirt it is like rambling our hands through a lottery machine—one never knows what they’ll pick out.

The idea of leaving it all behind to live life like a vagabond has been very appealing for years in my generation. But we seldom realise that this kind of life without commitments sometimes comes at the cost of a life without the conveniences we once knew: a home to call our own, a toothbrush in a fixed place, old friends to go to when we’re having a bad day or even a home cooked meal from our mother.

See, backpacks are emblems to travelers. They symbolize the travelers’ mobile nature and our need for freedom to go whenever we want to. They are built to accommodate easy access and storage. And a backpacker needs that like he needs air: the possibility and reminder that he can move and is constrained by nothing.

But when we spend enough time on the road, whether we want to or not, our backpacks mutate. And so do we.

As I moved to this kind of lifestyle in Madrid, I realized that what was once an emblem of mobility, now became a painstaking weight to carry around. I had gone from one store to the other buying new clothes just to fit with the local’s style. I bought one colorful dress after the other and thought it was a victory for the past tomboy that I was. I hated dresses really, but here abroad I thought I could push myself to like them and no one would notice. And the summer was the worst, as this frail white skinned Belgian girl who had never experienced a real summer suddenly had to walk legs and arms uncovered.

When traveling and wanting to change ourselves, we sometimes become schizophrenic chameleons in places whose language we are still learning and borrowing. And as thrilling as it is to go incognito anywhere and re-invent one’s self—some days, we just aren’t lively chameleons. Some days, we are just lost cats that hide under cars waiting for the traffic to pass.

Little do we know that sometimes the backpacks we are carrying are in fact heavy with burdensome personal baggage already. Somehow, all the while that we pack our underwear and t-shirts, our bags are already bursting with the layers of our constant self-questioning, our fears, our inner critic, and sometimes lack of self-love.

When we travel we get rid of our old comforts and routines. And so we grow more aware of who we are and who we aren’t, and of the difference between who we want to be and who we are right now. The kind of contrast we only ever really see when we get confronted with the blank canvas of ourselves echoed by the amount of free time and liberty we have when traveling or being in a new chapter of our lives.

In the end, it isn’t just about wanting to escape what we had before, it is mostly about escaping who we were before.

We are mostly introverts that are seeking a way to grow out of it. We rarely think that growth isn’t just about pushing ourselves to become who we want to be. Sometimes, we just become who we want to become eventually, by making the choices that we’re asked not by our mind or our heart, but by our gut. Sometimes, it’s when looking back, rather than forward, that we see better today the person we are becoming.

So that day as I made my backpack again in these last seven months. I was offered a lesson on acceptance. I laid all my clothes and beauty products on a bed, and decided I’d make two bags this time.

One with all the things that I had always felt resembled me and that I needed. And another with all the things I bought that I thought I might need. And left behind only the last one.

In life or in travel, if we want to set out on an adventure with ourselves, the best backpacks we’ll ever make are those that will leave extra room for our own personal baggage.

And acknowledging this is what will allow us to carry it in the first place…

Woman hiking looking at view

The Tie That Binds

Find me at the bottom of your drink when you raise
your cup and see me
across the room through
the round film of glass.

– Margherita Bassi

We all have dreamt of this special someone whose glance will meet ours across the room full of people and we will feel an immediate connection and we know in that instant that this person is the one. The one who will make us feel like nobody made us felt before. The one who will let us taste the passion and burning desire that will consume our whole being and will make us forget every other relationship we had in the past. The one who will make us cry buckets of tears and going to break our hearts in million tiny pieces. The one who will be unforgettable. The one who will get away.

Sounds nice but the truth is not once in my life I’ve felt this way nor I have ever dreamed of a similar situation with anyone in particular. In fact, when I’ve read the above quote what immediately came into my mind is two married people who are secretly having an affair and trying to hide it from everyone unsuccessfully. Believe you me, when two people got something going on between them, they can ignore each other in public and pretend but hide they cannot. There seems to be an invisible connection tying them together. Like some sort of energy, an electric something shimmering, rippling, across the room and you feel it. They don’t even have to talk or glance to each other for the connection to show. It’s just there, crackling, reaching, linking them, tying them, binding them to each other.

Did you ever experience the same thing? Or witness it?  Am I right? Do tell.

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The Edge Of Never

“Just that dwelling and planning is bullshit, you dwell on the past, you can’t move forward. Spend too much time planning for the future and you just push yourself backward, or you stay stagnant in the same place all your life. Live in the moment, where everything is just right, take your time and limit your bad memories and you’ll get wherever it is you’re going a lot faster and with fewer bumps in the road along the way.” 

― J.A. Redmerski

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Hideout

During one of my adventurous walks I came across this dilapidated shack at the edge of the forest in the middle of a swamp far from any sign of life. It stood a little bit crooked and had broken windows. I always have been attracted to these kind of places. I know it might sound strange but I feel they breathe life, they house untold stories and  keep secrets waiting to be discovered… Their pull is so strong it is impossible to ignore so I went in.

Inside I saw sign of occupation. There was some old furniture.  A broken table, an old gutted sofa and a chair with a missing leg stood in the middle of the room. I found couple of blankets on the floor, dirty but usable.  A pile of garbage stood in one corner, mostly food containers, wrappers, empty bottles of water and some broken glasses. There was a plastic bag full of folded papers tied up together. To me, they looked like letters. I was right away intrigued.

If I have more time I will stay a bit longer and scrutinize the contents of the bag, probably read the letters. But as it was, I was running late (like always) and I wanted to reach my car before the sun go down on me. So, against my will I moved on. But I promised to myself I’ll be back when the weather is more cooperative, probably in the spring…

“Ah, life’s little surprises! They can make any day unforgettable… or make it your last.” ~ T.A. Barron 

 

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Tempted

After 13 years of marriage, lots of coincidences and a jumble of confusing often horrifying circumstances; I woke up one day a changed woman.

The waking up happened on my 30th birthday, around 1:00 in the morning in a club I went with my so called friends to celebrate another year added to my life. On paper I was old enough but in reality I looked barely eighteen. Photographs can testify to that claim because they seldom lie, unless of course one edited them. When I’ve met D. He thought I was 24. In fact I was 37 years old. Imagine that. I remember being banned from a disco when I was twenty five because the guard thought my identity card was falsified. Story of my life.   

I was bending forward, head between my knees shaking my hair loose to add volume to the sweaty strands that were beginning to fasten themselves on the back of my LBD; and when I looked up, he was there staring at me.

Tall, blond, blue eyes and clearly younger than me; but I bet he didn’t know it. He sent his companion to extend an invitation for me and my friends to sit at their table, I declined. My friends wanted to throttle me for that. Spoil sport was added to the list of adjectives they loved to call me behind my back, I didn’t care. I still don’t. I talk to strangers but I don’t go as far as drinking alcohol with them, not even if they’re paying.

A bottle of champagne in an ice bucket appeared on our table shortly after that, with a note asking if he and his friends could join us instead. Well, I could hardly waive them off again without ruining the night of my birthday so, I said yes.

He was 27 years old. A Porsche driving only son of one of the biggest factory owners in the country; I was right away suspicious.

And that was the very reason why aside from a couple of dinner, a drive in his red status symbol car, lots of telephone calls and turned down invitations to private sauna and a night in his flat; nothing happened between us. I was not only wide awake, I was sober too.

I will not believe for one moment that he meant it serious with me.

Maybe serious enough to spend serious money on me in exchange for few occasional serious tumble in the hay, but serious enough to marry me, I don’t think so.

So I let him go.

But he had given me a gift I will cherish for the rest of my life: a consciousness, awareness that there is more to life than what I was having with my thoroughly abusive lying cheating drunkard of a husband. He made me realize that I was still desirable, still in the market, still worth chasing for.  And for that, I will be forever grateful.

But it doesn’t mean he cured my inferiority complex which originated from my childhood and honed to perfection by my philandering ex.  It cost me (maybe) a bright future with a UN ambassador who kudos for him did all the necessary hard work of digging, scratching and dusting so he could get to my core just to be turned down at the last minute because I didn’t believe I was good enough to be his lifetime companion.

The only move I made that I regret so far.

But it did make me brave enough to go out there and sample all the goodies that I was allowed to eat without the unnecessary and unwanted complications.

Yes I had my share of affairs. Not all of them platonic, that much I could admit. The bits and pieces of the stories, I sometimes share with you, but always the edited version. The incriminating details cleverly omitted not only for my own sake but for the readers and my children as well.

I know people could read between the lines, sometimes too much; but as long as it is not coming from my own mouth, that will remain, suspicions, accusations, and whatever one wants to call it. For the meantime, I will continue to write bits and pieces from my memories and will share them with you whenever I feel courageous enough to let some of the skeletons out the closet and let them dance naked…

Running Away

Daily Prompt