Running aimlessly

I am not, nor have I ever been a focused person. My attention is always distracted by some real or imagined connection or possibility. This obviously means that I’m the least efficient person I know. I get things done when they need to get done because I do not like to disappoint those who depend on me getting things done and because I procrastinate until I really have no other option. But, in general, inspirational quotes and sayings on how “things will happen if you stay focused” do not resonate with me. Staying focused will not make everything happen. Or, maybe it will, I just haven’t tried it.

I am not even one of those “existentialist pessimists” who thinks that all hope is an illusion. No, I do cling to hope and believe things will get better. If I just wait. They don’t. They haven’t.

You are only excused for happiness and success if you generously agree to share them. But if one is to be happy, one should not worry too much about other people – which means there is no way out. Happy and judged or absolved and miserable.

Albert Camus, The Fall

And now that I realize this and that this certainty seems to occupy my mind whenever I’m awake and sometimes even in my sleep, I can’t keep on waiting because it would be absurd. Although I should, by now, be way past the age of existential crisis, it does appear that sometimes it takes too long to build up the courage to become who you are and own the mistakes you have made while trying to convince yourself that you were different.

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!

Friedrich Nietzsche, Schopenhauer as Educator

Trying to stay focused on being ” my own story” seems to be hard enough at this point but it’s better than waiting or just refusing to see what went wrong.

Getting started, keeping going, getting started again — in art and in life, it seems to me this is the essential rhythm not only of achievement but of survival, the ground of convinced action, the basis of self-esteem and the guarantee of credibility in your lives, credibility to yourselves as well as to others.

Seamus Heaney

Photo: Words on Walls, Lisbon, September 2017 ( Running aimlessly is to wait in movement)

Episodes 

The process of deciphering and expressing a sense of who we are happens in tandem with deciphering and expressing when and where we are .

   

 
In the summer of 1988 we went to Cheltenham for an intensive English language course. I stayed with Cathy and Howard and my brother stayed with another family so we wouldn’t disturb the immersive quality of the course.  I remember Cheltenham as the England in the movies. I remember that Cathy and Howard’s house was “colour coded”, each room had its own colour. My room was pink and their wonderful living room was red. Red carpets, red sofa, red furniture and red wallpaper. 

This was my second time in England. I had been to London with my parents when I was 14 or 15 and could not control my excitement at having a place to go with the language I felt in love with in school and getting the Smiths “The queen is dead” before it went on sale in Portugal.   

There is a phrase: ‘the sweet smell of success’. And I can only tell you, I’ve had two experiences of that and it just smells like Brighton and oyster bars and things like that.
In August 1992 I visited Brighton with my parents to get things ready to start studying at Sussex University in the Fall. This is still the city that lives in my heart. My city.   

Life was completely different now. A full time student with a library schedule and tutorial classes. Now, I was in charge and it wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. Still, this is the city where, in a way, I grew up and everything was a promise of change.    

And then I moved to London. I doubt it if I will ever feel the kind of freedom and happiness and warm loneliness and sense of belonging I felt in this place. London was my moveable feast and  wherever I go for the rest of my life, it will stay with me. 

 

In 2002 I came back. So did others. Some of us just couldn’t handle it and decided to head back to London. I have tried to justify my choice of coming back many times, knowing that in reality that choice wasn’t actually mine. I arrived at the same conclusion every time. Choosing  to be who you really are takes a lot of courage.

References 

Susan B. Kaiser 

Laurence Olivier 

Ernest Hemingway 

Snapshots