Here’s the fact: I am leaving the apartment where I lived for the past eight years or so, and the city where I have been for almost 12. That’s it. The walls are naked, the books on the shelves are gone, the cupboards are empty. All packed up and ready to go, on the road, just like me from now on. Where to? Well, discovery of course, adventure perhaps, change for sure. Today starts the timeline of The Constant Revolution.
28 TO 40
A friend asked me what I am leaving behind, as to what am I taking away from Brussels? Something that is neither easy to answer nor to summarise. 12 years is a long time, especially those from 28, a motivated graduate arriving in a new city on his own, to 40, a professional looking for new life experiences. But no longer on his own.
Right now, as I am typing, the first thing that comes to mind is faces, lots of them. The expressions, the eyes, the smiles of the many marvellous people I had the chance to meet here. The good and the bad times, equally beautiful; the funny moments, the sweet moments, the small moments; the typical “bruxellois” situations we shared, definitely the city of surrealism; the journeys we set off together, and I don’t mean travelling only. I think of the many honest hugs I got before leaving (I loooooooove hugs!). All these people, all my friends, all the emotions is what made Brussels my second home. That’s a permanent mark on someones’ soul, scratch it as much as you like, it won’t fade away.
When I think of the experiences I shared in all this time, I also have a better understanding of what I am taking away with me. Here I’ve had the possibility to get my first job; here I have discovered the love for mountains and travelling as a backpacker; here I have renewed my impulse for culture and knowledge, and grown a passion for theatre, and so much more. I have learnt so much about myself, I have changed so much I can’t begin to say.
The path towards the discovery of my true self perhaps didn’t start in Brussels, but it’s certainly here it got the biggest, strongest, most painful, most enlightening pushes. As much as I believe this is somewhat of a solitary journey, where strength needs to be found within oneself, I realise as well that without all those faces, their company, and the support they willingly or unwillingly provided, I could have never done it. This is what I am taking away, and leaving behind: it couldn’t have been any better, I have zero regrets. Just a big thank you!
Experiences don’t stop there though. There’s much more: I know it, I feel it, I am called by it. I have thought a lot about the meaning of experience in life. This travelling, this being on the road, moving out and away, isn’t because there was something wrong where I was, it’s because there’s something new where I am going to. There are times in life when an experience needs to be closed, it has arrived at its natural end. Only then a new one can really start, even if we don’t know where it’s going to lead.
I don’t know what I want to dedicate my energies to in the next arc, in the next chapter of this thing we call life. But I am looking ahead, and I know I want it to be different. I hope to understand it on my way. In the meantime, I’ll visit new countries, meet new people, try new things out, and I’ll write about it here. Possibly, I will make this very little about myself and more about drafting up interesting stories. No promises though, after all this (blog) is just an unknown kind of seed just planted in the ground.
This is something I need to do alone. I mean, not alone alone I am not a hermit, happy to share the road from time to time. Still, I always found that after living in the same place for a while, you pick up a role, an image of some sort with the people around you, which is somehow hard to shake off. Then change becomes trickier, and clarity harder. Sometimes, I just need to find myself in a place where nobody knows who I am in order to feel genuine; the self at that moment in time that is.
It isn’t like cancelling myself out though, everything comes with me: all my being, all my past, all my fears and emotions and memories, and problems of course. There’s no running away in this sense. There never was. But when the role is gone, expectations are gone; and when expectations are gone I can be anyone, I can do anything, I can be true to myself without the innate fear of judgment that even the strongest-minded can’t avoid completely. I can be free. Oh, the sweet sound of this word…
Then the doors are open to doing things you wouldn’t have expected from yourself, to discover a fresh and unknown side of your personality which – hopefully – will add new enriching layers to the old guy. This is what experience means to me: improvement. I’ve recently discussed the possibility that only through experience we can get to know ourselves, even if that experience is something as still as sitting on a rock staring at the horizon. I don’t know if that’s true, but it can be tested 😉
IN THE PRESENT
Everyone has heard at least a couple of times the infamous statement that in order to be happy you need to be in the present. The so-called here and now, right? Yeah well, I don’t believe in happiness, not as a constant state of being at least, just as a recurring possibility. But that’s not the point. The fact is there’s something fundamentally important in that statement, which has to do with enjoying our experiences, and life, as it were.
We can learn how to leave without regrets and look ahead with excitement, but I believe we also need to learn how not to live anchored to the past or constantly projected in the future. That would be a spoiler! I am not sure whether this is completely possible though, I mean all the time? It sounds very hard. For some people, it might come more natural than others. For some cultures, it might come easier than others, and probably the western culture (sorry for the generalisation) isn’t really good at it.
Still, on those few occasions I happened to feel in the present, focused on the moment, with no nostalgic feelings or wishful projections, just there, well I also felt really good. I wouldn’t call it happiness out of some stubborn principles, but I might call it peace of mind. I guess the two concepts aren’t so far apart. To put it differently, I would describe it as the moment in which life is enjoyed the most. Therefore, from my point of view, the here and now is also a very desirable state of being.
So, there you go. I will try to live this new adventure, the journey in the world and the inner journeys, with this kind of attitude, certain that it won’t be easy, and looking out for chances to learn, literally from anywhere. Indeed, it could well be a recurring theme of The Constant Revolution. I have this gut feeling that it isn’t just about myself, but it has to do with the way we work, relate to the others, look at the world and live in it, and the balance among it all. To be continued… for now, let’s just call it a quest for being in the present.
Bravo Paolo: the hardest step to take when changing something is, I believe, the first one.
Once you’ve jumped and you have to face an entirely new territory there is, often, no more time or pissibility to look back. And the excitement of discovery takes over (and with it the possibility of becoming something new, different from the expectations of those left behind).
So half of the work is already done.
Now you can simply sit back, relax and enjoy the flight 🙂
Paolo my man! I truly enjoyed this first blog entry, jeez it reminds me of our first adventures together more than 10 years back… nostalgia, nostalgia… a friend told me once that nostalgia was a great feeling because it was proof that you had experienced amazing and beautiful things in life, and i truly believe that.
So i just hope that 5 years from now you will be nostalgic as hell about this journey you are about o embark on 🙂
Also, i wanted to say that i hope you will keep on sharing things about yourself in the journal, it is what truly makes it unique – i don’t want to see no national-geographic-article-like nonsense in here, allright?
Stay thirsty my friend
My maaaaaaan! Thanks! That’s an interesting perspective indeed, I’ll keep it in mind 😉
I’ll certainly continue to write stuff about myself, when I have something to say! Big hug!