ON MEANING

“It might be possible that the world itself is without meaning.”

Virginia Woolf, ‘Mrs Dalloway’

Does everything have meaning? The latter is a question I have long pondered on. I have come to realize that, perhaps due to my personality, I tend to seek meaning in every event that happens, every thought that occurs to me. This insatiable desire to make sense of the world, of the universe, lights me up. Nonetheless, more often than not, this never-ending quest leaves me with unresolved queries. This idée fixe might merely be the result of apophenia, in other words, ‘the tendency to mistakenly perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things’. Or could it have been generated by all of life’s torments previously endured? This pursuit could thus be the result of a crucial need to answer all the why’s, find a judicious explanation to any trials and tribulations and grasp wisdom in appalling circumstances. Perhaps it can serve as a way to fight against the lack of justice and fairness of life towards one in particular. Some could even say they use meaning as a shield against the unknown and a strength to never be defeated.  

Yet as, once in a while, some occurrences do not seem to make sense at all, do they still have meaning? Is this search constantly required? Is it solely necessary to navigate through life’s hardships? For one to be able to withstand adversity with strength certainly requires to emerge from it with a lesson. 

***

Oléron, Nov. 2019, GC

As my contemplations took a striking turn, the possibility to leave all meaning in the dark, for certain things only, seemed like a fruitful answer. From time to time, indeed, the reason behind may be elapsed, as one can choose not to look upon it without further ado —perhaps a difficult task for the overthinker’s mind. For, it may be plausible to believe that everything has, in fact, meaning and not need to decipher it at all times. 

***

What about life’s grand meaning then? 

“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.”

Joseph Campbell

In the last years, having been through a roller-coaster of emotions, I often found myself reflecting on that one question, attempting to uncover a definition to life. These are thoughts that usually leave us puzzled, in a more meditative state than we were beforehand. I wrote a piece entitled The Meaningful Nonexistent Sense of Life, in which I dwelled upon the idea that ‘life was nothing’ and so were we. What might seem to be a bleak perception is yet the absolute opposite, as I continued:

‘Of course, life does not make sense. How could anyone explain the tremendous and swiftly changing rides of one’s existence? Why are there so many serendipities, tragedies, and mysteries? Why do so many opposites intermingle? Simply: why are there so many unanswered questions? And yet, just because life does not seem to make sense to us, it does not any less deprive it of meaning. This is not a gloomy perspective to take on that matter. On the contrary, it constitutes a hopeful call to life.

There are as many bits of magic scattered around us as individuals that have for some reason which we cannot grasp been brought around us. It is okay not to know. It is okay not to understand. The most important is to keep on seeing the beauty and being thankful for it; it is to learn how to clear our mind when the vision gets darker. And along the way, we’ll find ourselves in a quest to discover our own very unique mission of life.’

***

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

Albert Camus

Perhaps there is a meaning behind this piece I have just penned, or not at all. Who knows?

La Vie Ne Vaut Rien. Par Tim Dup.

what do you believe is the meaning of it all?

ON SETTLING

“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.”

Hannah Ahrendt

When you move to a new country and pave a path to expatriates’ communities in an attempt to make connections, the first question that often pops up is the infamous ‘Why are you here?’. To this query, most people come up with an explanation regarding work or education purposes. It would thus seem uncommon, and even uncanny, to reply with the following answer: ‘just to live’.

Perhaps, this is merely the meaning of fresh starts and do-overs, or does it reflect the basic idea behind the concept of expatriation?

I fall into the second category of people, those who choose to relocate abroad for they sense that they are nomad at heart; for they are aware that settling in a new place means much more than work opportunities; for they know they need to move from place to place to keep an open-mind and constantly seize new experiences. I moved to a city that I had always dreamed of solely based on an intuition I had ever since I had been child. I believed I would live there for years, perhaps for my whole life. However, over time, I fathomed out that there was so much more to life than settling in one place, even when escaping it once in a while. Living never meant settling; for settling also equals narrowing the possibilities, limiting the freedom, surrendering to fears and doubts.

***

LDN, Oct. 2019, GC

One can wonder: does one need an excuse, such as deteriorating living conditions or complete loathing of their home country, to flee from it? Yet does it imply running away, though? Or is it the complete opposite: being fully open to change and embracing the myriad of opportunities that are spread out all over the globe for each and every one of us?

Of course, we did not all walked the same path and reasons thus vary. But for those lucky enough who did not have to run off as a result of poor circumstances, it is an enriching experience to grasp. A realization that the world is ours, and there is nowhere we could not possibly fit in. At times, we start off on this impressive journey for we seek major changes in our life, or we find ourselves at a turning point, aware that we could gain more enlightenment elsewhere. This is why this road oftentimes lead us to self-discovery and enhancement. What may start as a challenge can also end up being the most rewarding adventure ever.

***

“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

Christopher McCandless

Today, the mere thought of going back to live in my home country occurs to be one of the bleakest thought ever. It would signify confining myself to a culture I’m already accustomed to. It would be as though I was going back to the past versions of myself that no longer reflect who I am. For there is another view to discern from another rooftop, another boulevard to explore, another smell to discover — and these are endless opportunities to see the world from another viewpoint.

Being an expat means being evermore ready to leap into the unknown. Embracing the idea of getting to know a new culture, perhaps feeling like an outsider for a brief time, accepting the universe’s magic of new encounters and uncovering new and previously hidden parts of your soul.

Can one ever truly go back to the place that shaped them in such an incomplete self?

***

Gente Di Mare. Umberto Tozzi.

does being an expat simply means defining oneself as a citizen of the world?

ON LEAVING

Fear is a source of energy.

***

Three years ago, when I left home I wrote the following note to myself: 

« This is going to be at times scary, lonely and perhaps even daunting but you’re going to make it through.»

In all honesty, in that very moment, the weeks that preceded the great departure, my nineteen-year-old self didn’t feel an ounce of fear. I was rather over the moon about this dream that was eventually coming true. Merely filled with excitement, as if nothing could get in my way. The difference, as of today, is that I do have some fears, even though they are not constant and tend to fade. Another major change is how much I have evolved thanks to my first three years as a young expatriate on my own. Before leaving for Great Britain, I considered everything so fragile and yet so important. I could not face change. I was, almost relentlessly, holding on to nostalgic feelings. Emotionally attached was my strongest defect. I could not let go. It is almost as though I was living in the past. As regards to it, the experiences I lived at the hostel and in that city where every individual seems to be continuously in motion, ready to fly far away one day or the other, changed everything for me. To let people go was a tough lesson, yet most-likely the most crucial of all. It taught me to accept change. 

This is thus an ode to blank pages, to doubts, to a clean slate, to start from scratch, all over again, to experience, to living out of the ordinary, to risks: to new chapters; and yes, to fears as well. For if you never had one fear or two, then there is nothing you truly ever conquered. 

I LIKE TO THINK THAT WE CAN LET ENDINGS BE BEAUTIFUL, BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY NEW BEGINNINGS THAT AWAIT. 

Leaving when life is not unbearable but when it is not as passionate as it used to be anymore. Leaving with gratitude for the chapter that is about to end. For, accepting the end is the only way to move on and look forward. 

The thought of moving abroad alone never sounded daunting to me, for it seemed to be my only option, my only escape. It was probably the easiest decision of my life, although sometimes it is indeed harder. Leaving the city where I rebuilt my whole life, or shall I even say myself, from scratch was more heart-wrenching than fleeing from a place I believed had somewhat destroyed me (even though I now realize that I never would’ve followed that path if it weren’t for the journey I had previously been on. A dream of mine: this is the reason why it was so easy to follow and so hard to let go at the same time.

***

I wrote down some reflections about it as this epiphany occurred to me earlier this year:

[…] a dream is only a chapter of your life. It is made up of excitement but as soon as you feel entrapped in it, the end of this dream is near. The famous saying urges us to never give up on your dreams, but this doesn’t mean that we are not made of legions of dreams, some were made to get intermingled whilst others were made to be separate. As difficult as it may be, be it a result of fear or anything else, to let one dream go peacefully by being grateful for everything that it has brought us — during the making, the living, and the ending — is to honor it. To refuse the end of it and hold on to it through thick and thin, however, is to deny the part of yourself that you’ve just found.

Dreams die and we find our selves in a more authentical way in new dreams. It is not a rebirth. It merely is getting closer to being and living our very own true selves.

‘If one dream dies, dream another dream. If you get knocked down, get back up and go again.”

Joel Osteen

***

In 2016, I enthusiastically jaunted down an idea of a program to make your dreams come true and start over: 

Understand what your heart wants. Know the possibilities. Do some research. Adjust your dreams to what appears to be reachable. Forget about all the limits. Conquer your fears. Tell only those you trust most — or wait for the moment when your endeavor will be fully prepared. Plan (however much you feel the need to — too much or not enough, that could well make a big difference). Believe in yourself. Remind yourself of that dream regularly. See it transform into a project. Believe in this dream. Be inspired by people who are living their dreams, be it similar to yours or not. Tell your loved ones that you’re about to make your dream come true. Now, that’s it, go and live your dream! 

Life may, at times or perhaps often, happen to be overpowering and soul-crushing, but there is one magical thing about it. Every single second that passes you, you get to decide whether you want to accept it or defy it. Every single day, you can choose to take your power back. You can start over, right now and open a brand-new chapter. For, in the end, you remain the only author behind your story, whatever the importance of your close ones. You are the writer.  

***

Etienne Daho. Le Premier Jour Du Reste De Ta Vie.

Are you ready to leave everything behind?

ON TRAVEL

***

Traveling is that thing that makes you tickle when you come across the departure signs at the airport. That one ticket that you’ve been waiting for. That one destination that you’ve longed to see.

Traveling is falling in love with the journey rather than the destination. The highs and lows. The car rides and footsteps. 

Traveling is moving forward. Always forward. Moving on and looking backwards with the slightest, purest form of nostalgia. 

Traveling is feeling it all. Accepting it all. You can alter your path but the road cannot be changed. Accepting it all as it is. Every soul, every word, every inch of flesh. Letting it be.

Traveling is letting go. Letting go of a past that cannot be rewinded. Letting go of the hands touched, the eyes met and the places encountered. 

Traveling is feeling different. And also feeling we still belong. And yet, it is feeling the same. A reunion in opposites and resemblance. 

Traveling is accepting that we are the stranger, the foreigner, the outsider. And still, it is being ready to dive right in.

Traveling is taking a leap into the unknown. Being brave and fearless when fear seems to be determinate to take all control over us. 

Traveling is getting lost. At times almost drowning and yet continuing on breathing, surviving.

Traveling is being close. So very close to our own identity by being reminded of our former surroundings whilst in similar ones. 

Traveling is being close to oneself. So very close, when on our own, the only human presence we may feel is our reflection in the mirror. 

Traveling is being far away. So far away and yet so very close as well, connected heart to heart, always.

Traveling is discovering. Walking on the path that plenty before us, hundreds or seconds ago, have walked tirelessly. 

Traveling is fully experiencing and sensing sunsets and sunrises while being absolutely aware of the possibility that you may never be in the same conditions ever again. 

Traveling is opening up our eyes to a whole new dimension. Observing in awe or disgust. Exploring with acceptance. 

Traveling is accepting, yet again, each and every challenge that is thrown at us. For this is the only option that remains.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Augustine of Hippo

***

Travel is evanescent.

Travel is acceptance.

Traveling is feeling.

Travel is discovery in every form.

Traveling is taking the leap.

Traveling is the human condition.

Traveling is the long, rich, flickering and never-ending self-discovery journey to the soul. Traveling is a soul-searching quest, a quest for the meaning of life.

***

Amalfi, Aug. 2019, GC

Indochine. Black Sky.

how does the word travel speak to your soul?