What do you notice when you’re back from a place that not only speaks a wholly separate language from your own but has different set ideas for architecture, cuisine, ethics, everything. Well not much because you’re sort of overcome by the ambivalent wonder of -
Lucky me. I got to go see that.
Once back, and after recounting some things in anecdotal detail you have to get on with what’s normal. Jobs, commutes, online banking, everything.
It’s only when you’re stood on a footstool gazing out of a clear windowpane with the microwave thrumming innocuous radiation at your head that you think about what it all meant. Those sights, those people, those food stuffs. The kindness of all those people so far away from us now that they’re a little speck in a different time zone – not just a different space zone.
That mega 18 hour trip from the London Underground Piccadilly Line to my hometown of Kasukabe; (you always start at the beginning when you recount something don’t you? It’s funny because the beginning is the least significant part because nothing has happened yet. It must mean we like the feeling of something about to happen, not the actual happening. That’s probably why life can be disappointing.)
You think afterwards, what could top that? Not another holiday, surely. Well quite. I don’t want to be living a life which is mostly me taking time out from it. Telling the whole world on my dating profile that my hobbies consist of ‘travelling, going out there with open arms to explore and experience what the world has to offer my bared soul’ and ‘food. Eating is discovery, much like travelling, I think that when you’re eating food from different countries you're widening your horizons and learning about foreign cultures too.’ Etc. I don’t want to just be taking holidays for the rest of time.
So you set to thinking, was it the holiday aspect of it that you miss? If coming back has stopped you from writing then what’s that about? Is it simply catching up with friends, your workload and washing? Partly yes. But it also means something’s changed irretrievably. It sounds dramatic, perhaps it is, but a gear got stuck when I got back. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, if anything, I was at a stand still.
But something has been brewing for several days. A concoction; a thought which I didn’t have quite enough empirical evidence to muster out of conjecture. An inkling it has been, an awakening it is.
Part of being an adult is being helpless.
Not helpless like a child who can’t open a jar. Helpless like an adult who has to carry weighty news that they’d rather drop in the bin but can’t because it’s called responsibility. Meeting people who have integrity and knowing you are imprudent. Trying to procure an ounce of sympathy from within when you see a fellow human suffering but you can’t seem to understand why or care. All those “Big Thoughts” as Sam Simmons (comedian) would say.
Listless may be the word to describe that day. I had been feeling belittled by an app which managed to translate a Japanese word perfectly for me after I had struggled with it all day. I had this immense dislike for this app, which took away my struggle so easily, like someone who says they’ve solved all your problems but makes you feel inferior so they’ve given you another problem all together. And whilst sitting at the bottom of my carpeted staircase thumbing my phone and breathing deeply, I had this very clear realisation what being an adult meant. Responsibility, knowledge, wider resources, yes to all of that but really, it means making do with the bloody truth.
Even if that truth is emotionally draining, or the answer to the question is I don't know, or you secretly accept cruelty because it’s not your problem, or that money really matters a lot. I mean it’s all so draining and yet it’s all true. And we have to Eat. It. Up. but also live life like it isn’t true, otherwise what would you ever get out of bed for?
Making do with the truth is like the tale of Father Christmas, where you know it’s not real but the joy of pretending it’s real for the sake of a child makes life worthwhile. Or if you’re about to go inside for a bollocking from an authority figure but you’re outside and the sun is shining and the air is balmy and everything smells sweet, that bit of life makes the rest of life however morose, seem pretty good. When you get to feel lucky for a moment before it peters away in to a life of mundane expectations, and if you got asked by the devil ‘would you like to do it all again?’ you probably wouldn’t bother.
There’s nothing bad about being cynical. The best piece of news I’ve read since being back in the UK (and this is actually interesting rather than all these soapsuds I’ve left strewn across the web) is that being unhappy does not affect your mortality. As in, research had often detected a link between people being unhappy and people dying earlier than the rest of the population, which would lead society to think unhappy people die faster. But in fact we had just got the causes and effects mixed up. Unhappiness and death correlate but they aren’t linked, so people who are unhappy tend to be sick and so more likely to have a shorter life span. But those who are perfectly healthy and unhappy live just as long as the happy buggers. So that’s something isn’t it, after coming back from the halcyon that was Japan with the boyfriend and the family who are all alive and healthy. Even if I get really unhappy about life for some reason, death won’t come to me any quicker. And that piece of knowledge actually made me happy.
|photo by Aidan Clifford|