I mentioned previously that I had found my journal from 1998 when we finished unpacking our storage boxes recently. On sifting through some of the boxes when we first moved back to South Africa from London just over six months ago, I also found my travel journal from 2000, the year I turned 18, started University, and travelled to England for a few weeks during the European summer. It was my first experience of international travel, and makes for some interesting reading for me. For no reason other than how interesting it is looking back to the similarities and differences in my mental processes 13 years ago, here are some extracts from my final entry into the journal:
I am on the bus home to Pietermaritzburg, leaving Cape Town on a beautiful sunny day – a great South African welcome home! The view flying in from London (only a couple of hours ago) was spectacular, with perfectly clear skies. There is still a bit of snow on the mountains, and after all my fears it was great to see home again.
What do I want from life now? I am not sure, but I will keep my London philosophy of ‘take what comes.’ I don’t want to think about getting home too much, because I get worried and nervous, whereas if I just sit back and let it happen it will all be fine, I’ll be back into it soon enough. Gosh, I thought I would be so excited about getting home, it’s all I could think of at first, and now I don’t want to.
It’s easier to conserve energy and observe, than to use it and interact. There is also always the possibility of judgement from others when putting out energy in any way, and taking in is safer. As with anything else, it has to be balanced for life to be fully experienced and fulfilling. My example to friends recently, I remember; and saying that it’s all very well to acquire a lot of knowledge and insight, but it’s useless if you don’t go out and apply it in life. It is likewise pointless to live a life that doesn’t allow time for reflection, and gaining knowledge from others.
It amazes me how easy it is to catch the attention of a man with a simple smile, in my case usually followed by a shy lowering of my head – I am only half confident, still half shy. In Paulo Coelho’s ‘Veronika Decides To Die’ one of the female characters resolves to live her life to the full, and one of her resolutions is to ‘smile at every man I find attractive.’ I have been pondering on this for the last couple of days, wondering if it isn’t better to resolve to smile at as many people as possible, as I sometimes do. But then, to get a lovely smile from someone, and know it is in appreciation… I still prefer smiling at everyone, otherwise we would mostly smile at people of the opposite sex, and beautiful people arguably may not need a smile as much as others. Besides, that seems to perpetuate the myth that beautiful or attractive people are more deserving of love. I am not saying that the woman’s resolve is anything but liberating, and it is possibly most difficult to smile at people that you find attractive, because you feel you are betraying your feelings, but in my life I will stretch it further than that.
Sunset in the Karoo is, as my dear friend Justin said, inspiring. I kept giggling to myself because it was so beautiful, and I was overwhelmed by the thrill of the open spaces. I don’t always appreciate the beauty of the Karoo, although it was the first place I learned what beauty was, but today I did. There are so many different sorts of beauty, and so many completely different beautiful landscapes. So, what would Plato’s perfect form of beauty be? I believe it’s better not to compare too much, because then one tends to place one thing above another, instead of just appreciating each one for itself. You really can soak it into your soul, let yourself be at peace. I suppose that’s when I am closest to meditating, but that I still need to learn how to do.
Looking out the window I cannot help but wish I was lying outside on the ground staring up at the stars, just as I have wished all day to be in the countryside we have passed, and to touch the water in the beautiful rivers. I want to explode with it all, and I feel lucky to be able to love life with such intensity inside, just that tightening of quiet joy that makes me giggle to myself, and I hope that life never seems dead to me. Yes, it will feel pointless, and perhaps empty, too full of pain and suffering, but that is the future and this is now, and when it comes it can be passed. I have kept one of the sugar packets you get with your tea with the corny sayings on, and it says, “If you want to put the world right, start with yourself.” I have always believed that, which is why I have found self-hatred to difficult, so I kept it.
Ah, the big empty future, as wide and limitless as the sky, infinite always because I cannot know when it will end. I am so happy with an empty future, it means that there is much to fill it with, and I have faith in myself.
Although I love talking to people because it forces me to make sense of my thoughts, I would like people to challenge me more, to feed me things that will make me question, or even change, my beliefs. I think perhaps that some people don’t really know what their own arguments and beliefs are, never having put them into logic and words before. I also think that sometimes people don’t try, because I sound so convinced about what I am saying that they don’t think that anything they say will change my mind anyway, so why bother? How receptive I am I must question, but I would like more people to offer an argument, to point out the holes in mine.
Dawn will bring me back into my old world, the real world, but it won’t be the same. What has changed in me; what has shifted through the course of this adventure? I find that I do not yet know.