Reflections on Foresight
As a writer, I am interested in the way we use words to express ourselves and capture moments in our life that we think are special. I am finding, however, that this means to invest deep meaning and significance into everyday life situations that perhaps aren’t as universally moving as I make them out to be.
Firstly, I’ll find myself reflecting on social situations as they are happening, and from this, deriving an unspoken sense of identity for both my self and my peers. Character building, if you will. Once I know who is who, it’s never long before I begin synthesising a narrative. Generic questions that aid this analysis might include – So what does this interaction mean for our friendship?’ Where will the relationship develop from here? What magical moments will we share in the future?
Take, for example, an evening that I shared recently in a Moroccan hostel, smoking hash with my friend Rob and a young American English teacher called Whitney. We spoke about dangerous animals, the carroway bird being a particularly hot topic; the places we’d been recently (Rob, correctly pointing out that the Portuguese coast bears resemblance to that found at the bottom of Australia); and suddenly realised, together, that the room was constructed from virtually no wood. “Weird”, we all said, looking at each other in stoned agreement.
It was lovely, but jaded by the fact that I couldn’t stop asking myself, “Yeah, but what does it mean?”
I pictured my friends and I laughing over glasses of wine at reunions years into the future, teaching our worldly children (who all learnt to speak five languages before the age of five) subtle lessons that we ourselves had learned on the road when we explored exotic countries together, discovering new cultures and learning about the beautiful symmetry and ‘oneness’ between all human beings. It’s such a wank. It seems as if I have been completely conditioned to a cinematic and pop-cultured sense of life that I remove myself from these present moments in favour of imagining those that the future may hold. In other words, the grass seems greener in places that I’m yet to even plant it.
Lately, I’ve begun to realise how problematic this kind of thinking is. Yes, there are moments and times when these imaginative thoughts will bring me a great deal of joy – but the more severe emotional consequences are often yet to follow. Severe cases of complete disillusionment. A feeling of disappointment when I couldn’t have passionate sex with the man I had been admiring, the comfortableness of two friends you imagined getting along so well – just not clicking, or a looming sense of failure when you didn’t barter down the Moroccan on his hand woven rug and leave having made a new, smiley, exotic friend.
Alas, I am left conflicted as to whether or not I will have any ‘truly beautiful’ life moments for which I will be glad for my existence.
You might be wondering whether you’ve just read four paragraphs into a suicide note, but actually, the outcome isn’t that bleak. What I am noticing as a result of realising how pretentious and false I am, is that there really are moments that fill one to the brim with joy. Moments that leave you grinning from ear to ear about and feel a little bit flushed in the face for – and they often come with the benefit of hindsight.
As I lay in bed after my evening with Rob and Whitney, debating whether or not to get tested for Aspergers syndrome and reflecting on what a great and meaningful night it had been, my mind was cast away to my housemates in Barcelona, where I had been living for the few months prior. They were all travellers to varying degrees who had lived in, out and between hostels for years on end and thus, had no TV but plenty of time. Most weeknights were spent with everyone in the same room. Some days we would talk and discuss, others we would not – silently agreeing that a 10-minute Instagram scroll would be more fun then hearing about our individual work problems.
Regardless of how the energy between us manifested itself however one thing would always be the same – we’d be together. Night in and night out, in silence or in chatter, all five or six of us sat on those stained white sofa couches, Nichole in her navy blue Stoke hoodie and red pyjamas, jack and coke in hand; Paddy playing the few chords of guitar he actually knew; Hollie sitting with one leg crossed under the other, making a particularly sweet sound as she said “ummm” at the start of an answer; Lisa jumping in between our company and her besotted lover, only one WhatsApp ‘bing’ away; Janice resting in some bizzare yoga position on the floor that looked as though she was about to take a shit; and Elsie, gesticulating affirmatively as she explained some other amazing fact about whales that she’d learned recently. Even Elliot, who sat in the other room, lost in a world of house music and social paranoia, maintained a consistent presence. And you know what, it was kind of just nice to know that everyone was there.
You hear the word “family” thrown a lot when you’re on the road. People talk about the “families” that had been born throughout their journey. They brag longingly about the mutual love each had shared for every other and the genuine heartbreak that was felt when it came to say goodbye. At times, it makes me roll my eyes because I know that sounds like something I would say and I, deep down, think I’m a massive loser who doesn’t know a truly moving experience when he see’s one and instead invests meaning and essence into things that aren’t actually there – but – cynicism aside – it’s still a warming idea.
It’s commonly believed that what’s most special about family is that they stay by you through thick and thin. Whether you’re fighting, celebrating, “never-speaking to each other again and I seriously mean it this time” or awkwardly reuniting over burnt coffee and Tim-Tams, they’re always just kind of there. And within that – that thereness, I find something truly moving. A sense of comfort, warmth and familiarity that while subtle enough not to interfere with the natural manifestation of the social energy, remains humming along confidently in the background, seeing no need to boast. The only problem being that I never realise it’s there until it’s already gone.
The more I travel, the more I fall in love with this energy that people can have amongst one another. Perhaps so much so, that like an over-excited pup, I’ll fetch a stick that’s not really there. And the more I travel, the more I learn, even if it’s as simple as learning to live now and reflect later.