The open road beckons.. as I think about the need to disappear into wild and empty places again I’ve been thinking, well ‘dwelling’ is perhaps more appropriate, on what it is that draws me to such places. It is a true statement that to date I have never been happier than when ‘lost’ in some vast wilderness. The reasons behind that are many and complex and ones that I generally keep to myself… hence I do not know if I should write this post or not but it is one vehicle for expressing what is going through my mind that I find I am unable to express any other way, and this evening I feel that I must articulate that which troubles me. It is possible that I will delete this again tomorrow. Who knows. One thing I do know is that the occasional feelings of shame about the way I am are just plain stupid.
It is also a true statement I think that one never ‘beats’ depression. Rather one learns to understand it, to live with it knowing that no matter how rubbish today may seem, tomorrow things will likely feel entirely different.. and in my case to find positive aspects to the experience that can be used to shape one’s perspective on life. It is also true I think, contrary perhaps to popular belief, that an individual can be both a positive individual and prone to depression. I’m generally a positive, glass-better-than-half-full kind of person that tends to live by the rule that ‘stuff will always work out ok’.. but at the same time one that spent a number of years dealing with a severe depression and one that still suffers occasionally from such episodes that can be triggered by the simplest of events or social situations. So.. the draw of the open road is not a draw at all… rather it is the push of what is considered to be normal life.
I am happiest on the road because I feel very much as if I am ill-equipped to deal with the day to day banality of normal life and living in a society that, as a broad generalisation, appears to value the material over the individual, the self over the community, and in which social situations and relationships appear to carry a weight of unspoken expectation and judgement that I either do not understand or cannot be bothered with. Life on the road is distilled to its most simple.. There is only ‘now’. Tomorrow is not worth worrying about because it hasn’t happened yet while yesterday is but a memory, albeit a treasured one. Interactions with other people, when they happen, are almost invariably infused with goodwill and happiness in a way that simply doesn’t happen at home. Furthermore there is a joy to being unencumbered with material possessions – a bicycle, some shelter, the clothes on my back and some food and water are all that are I need. As an aside, to everyone who says to me “I would like to do that but it is too difficult” I would say that the opposite is true – it is easier there.
Give me that and I want for nothing. I am not a materialistic individual but no matter how hard I try to avoid it being at home brings the shadow of the material – I’m bombarded by idiotic commercials that portray apparently perfect lives to which we are supposed to aspire, and feel a pressure from the behaviour of the world around me akin to that of water on my skin when diving. I say I don’t care but I am judged by the clothes I wear, the car I drive and my ‘success’ is frequently measured by what I do for a living and how much I earn. Some very difficult years taught me what was truly important to me.. and that is a hugely positive thing I take away from the experience that will guide the remaining years of my life. In that respect I feel lucky, not everyone gets to learn that lesson. I have to feel lucky, to not do so would be to forever regret the loss of a very many years, and that would be foolish.
Being somewhat empathic I am still emotionally fragile in some respects and probably always will be. Empathy I sometimes think is a trait that in this world can cause more difficulty than good.. Having experienced unhappiness I want the people around me to be happy, but the consequence of that is an intense backwash of emotional noise and self-inflicted pain for want of better words. At times it seems that those who are able to stumble through life utterly oblivious to the thoughts, feelings & actions of others may be the lucky ones.
Despite all of the above however the experience of a deep depression has enabled me to break the cycle and work towards the life I want.. I still have much to learn and work to do.. I have learned recently there is still a deep seated residual frustration inside of me that I must address as it occasionally manifests itself.. I am well on the way however, I understand what I must do with respect to my own behaviour, I have attained freedom from a corporate career and, while it took a long time after moving back to the UK, I have circle of truly brilliant friends that are hugely important to me … and I have my health. Yet still, from time to time I feel completely lost, utterly bewildered and unhappy in a way that only the open road and a healthy dose of wilderness can cure. It is an escape. I am running away. I am not ashamed of that.
I just find it so flippin’ hard sometimes.
Cheers for listening, this was something I think that had to be placed outside of myself. It has done me good :-)
Mongolia I think.