The Turning Point: Uganda, Love and the Journey

After two years of solo travelling, I have reached a point on my journey where a few things are becoming a little clearer, and I finally get to talk about love on this bloody blog

Uganda has been a landmark in this journey of mine, one that marks an end. But end is just another way to call a beginning, isn’t it? Two years of solo travelling is a long time and the moment has arrived to draw some conclusions. Things happened during this month and a half in Uganda that made me say stop, that’s it, time to go back, and gave me a little bit of clarity. Perhaps this had to happen, sooner or later, something that could shake me to the core and open up to some important thoughts.

The first thing that happened is that I have volunteered in places where I saw the life of disadvantaged people from very close. HIV positive and orphan kids, single mothers left out by society, extreme poverty. I was touched by these experiences, in particular by how these kids, these people, manage to live a joyful life despite it all. Or so it seemed to me.

This experience definitely marked the way I look at mine so-called Western society forever. I have never been really a fan of spoiled kids and people, of indifference and lack of awareness vis-à-vis the world, but now that I have travelled a little and seen conditions that are far beyond the imagination of most of the people where I come from, well, I just can’t accept spoiled kids and people no more, indifference and lack of awareness.

This will be an issue perhaps for my living in a society where I want to go back, but it will also be a natural selection when it comes to the people I want to be surrounded by.

Yes, I need to go back, to Europe at least. I have understood I can’t live like this, I can’t live outside Europe for too long, I can’t live alone, and, selfishly, I can’t dedicate my life to helping others, like I have seen many people do in Africa. I have to find my own way of realizing myself.

Most likely I’ll go back to live in Brussels which is the only place I called home in the past 12 years or so. In the end, home is where the people that are close to you are, the people you love, the people you talk and feel well with, and besides my family, which lives where I was born and I don’t want to be, there’s nowhere else for me to go.

The second thing that happened is that I had a huge crush on a girl. Yep, you saw that coming, didn’t you? It turned out just to be a vacation sex kind of thing, although in my head a whole different story played out its plot. I believe I have been on my own for far too long, and that has something to do with it, it cannot be good for anybody.

Be it as it may, this fling opened up emotional channels that have been sealed, and which, when they resurface so suddenly, I struggle to manage. I felt lonely again, I felt the need for familiar faces, I felt the need for some warmth. I also felt the need to come out, so to speak, and be a little more honest with myself and others about the way I deal with emotions, sentiments, and well, love.

I am a much more emotional person that I would like to admit or to show, or that I project externally. This has often been an issue for my relations.

Long ago I dropped a mask that prevented me from looking at the world with more clarity and open-mindedness. It was a long, painful but enlightening process. It has changed me profoundly and enabled me to see and find beauty in culture and knowledge.

I thought I had dropped all masks, but perhaps there was another one, a more insidious one, that has stuck around and journeyed with me all this time. The mask that prevents me to show and live through my emotions, well, not always, but often. 

We tend to hide our emotional side in this freaking society, perhaps because it is so scary to show it, especially to people we don’t know, that we have just met. Yeah yeah, I know what’s the argument here, and I agree, as wisdom goes, that it takes time to get to know someone and it takes time to be able to trust someone with your emotions. Totally true. I am not saying there is no need to protect ourselves or that we have to take a leap of faith every time we meet someone. Not at all. 

But I also think that there is no need to hide sides of ourselves that just show who we are, in a natural way. If I am an emotional person, then I might as well just be so, without trying to keep everything inside all the time, in some hidden corners, for then when it comes out it does so in an uncontrollable and explosive way. That is certainly not healthy nor useful.

What I mean is that if I feel I am being moved by something, by any kind of emotion, I should probably just let it be, with not too much restrain or shame, just fully enjoy it, whatever it is, and then, when allowed, share it with those I want to share it with, and let life take care of the rest. What is there to lose anyway?

It seems to me that it has become hard, almost impossible even talking about this nowadays. That might have to do with what life does to 40 years old in general. It’s another topic. But unless your soul has been sucked dry by existence, if you are a daydreamer, you’ll always be one, no matter how much you try to hide it. So, just be one. Be whatever you want to be.

I seldom write about love on this blog. In fact, I believe I never wrote about love on this blog. It is just such a complicated thing to talk about, and the ways we feel are up to so many factors in a specific moment of our lives. But why not taking this occasion to talk about it a little, about the worst and the best of it, since I feel so open to it.

There’s this famous song by Labrinth called Jealous, the refrain goes like this:

But I always thought you’d come back

Tell me, all you found was

Heartbreak and misery

It’s hard for me to say

I’m jealous of the way

You’re happy without me”

Yeah, not the kind of song you want to listen to if you are heartbroken. Or perhaps yes, depending on how you process this kind of things. But I like it so much because it does evoke something that I believe most people are familiar with, it is relatable, almost an embodiment of what love is, at least part of it.

There is always that moment, in a story of any kind – long, short, important or shallow – where one realizes that the other person doesn’t care (any more). I mean, perhaps she (or he) cares in a friendly way. But she doesn’t care the way you care, right? She doesn’t care about connecting with you, sharing, or just seeing you.

There’s always the moment you realize that she is just happier to do all of that with someone else and that last conversation you had wasn’t a conversation but just an awkward way of saying: I don’t want to see you any more, let me free. So you do the only thing you can possibly do, you let her free, cause there is no love without freedom.

That moment is when hopes, imagery, dreams, illusions, plans call it as you like, anything you have been living through – cause life is real as much in the world as it is inside our heads – crash against reality, and break apart. You are left with nothing and nothing is going to change this, from here on it will be silence. Then your only weapons become time, good company, and if you are up for it the beauty that can be found in nature and culture.

You are wondering if I have lived a situation like that? Well, kinda, yeah, I wouldn’t be writing all of this otherwise, would I? Although I would not use a powerful word as love for something that has been so short and one-sided, an infatuation perhaps, a crush, yes. Crushes can lead somewhere, sometimes. Not this time. The same principles apply though, the same misery. That’s the point and the reason why that song is so touching.

There’s no one to blame though. I guess most people have been also on the other side of this story, meaning the one who can’t give more to the person that hopes for it, and who happily goes on with his/her life. If you are aware of what’s going on, in a way it is also painful. In any case, if there is one thing I understood about emotions is that you cannot ask for them, they are just there or they are not. I found myself also in this situation many times in life, certainly this past year as well. I can’t say that I don’t get it.

It can’t be helped, the beauty of love is its unpredictability, that’s why it is such a strong emotion. You never know when it comes, you never know when it goes, you never know when it’s real, you never know if it will be reciprocated. So much trouble for glimmers of happiness. Yet, we all want it, and those who deny it are just denying themselves.

As a good friend of mine always says, and I agree with him, it is just so complicated. Especially when people have just met, even when they do see each other, it actually takes a long time for them to actually become close. Months have to pass during which anything can happen before two people form a bond. There are no good or bad intentions. That needs to be understood and withstood. The factors in play are just too many, personal or external, and timing is definitely key.

It is a journey, love, just like the one in the world, and the one in life. All journeys end, the main thing is to be able to enjoy the process. We should all be able to just be in the moment, without projecting, and enjoy whatever life has to offer right here and now. Easier said than done for many. Sometimes the mind wanders on its own with such eagerness that nothing can stop it. We can just keep the thing for ourself and see how it goes. It’s very hard to keep your cool too when this happens, I know one thing or two about it.

I guess with some experience we can learn to read the signs, even when we feel so emotional about someone, even if it is a little too late to not be, emotional. We can learn to let go of something that does not work for us or is just not right for us. We can learn to let go of something that causes more pain than pleasure.

It still sucks, there’s no denying it, but it would be more painful to lose ourselves into a vicious kind of thinking that brings us to believe love or even life, is only pain. I have seen this happening to close friends, such a sad way to be in the world.

I don’t believe it, I’ll never do. On the contrary, love might well be the only emotion that touches us so deeply to cause a revolutionary movement within us. This movement is what gives us the chance to understand ourselves, to improve who we are and who we want to be, to be an engine of creativeness, notwithstanding if it goes very well or very bad. It is all part of the same thing. There is no bad emotional experience if such is the result for ourselves.

It’s never useless. I got a big crush on a girl that I have seen for just a few days and that led to nothing, and I am definitely jealous of the way she is happy without me. But this crush at the end of two years of solo travelling in the world made me understand that I am ready now for some stability, that I want to go back, that I don’t want to be alone any more, not in life and not when I travel, that I want to share my experiences with the people I like and love, and that maybe, finally, I am also ready to get serious with someone and shouldn’t be scared of it, when the occasion will arise.

That’s it, folks, this is the end of a journey that took me in so many places both in the world and within myself. I can’t even begin to describe it, despite all my attempts of writing stuff on this blog. I am proud of myself, I am happy of who I have become and I am glad I am concluding this journey with these reflections about love and emotions.

A new, hopefully even better journey is about to start. We’ll see.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.