“Welcome back to the real world,” said my Uncle once I had touched down in Melbourne – it was the first time I had seen him in two years.
I had just endured five aeroplane meals, ten hours reading trashy magazines in airport terminals, sixteen hours on two different flights, one of which I was sitting next to an extremely chatty elderly lady, (which always seems to happen to me,) and safety briefs in three different languages throughout the journey back from Johannesburg to Melbourne. I felt like I was on Mars, let alone the real world!
Over the coming days and weeks, I found it heart wrenching as I attempted to fit back into that so-called real world.
My family went out for dinner for my mothers 50th birthday one evening in December. I put on the brave face, sat at the table, hiding a quiet tear as I listened to talk of rising petrol prices, relationship issues and complaints of long work hours. I was still treated as the same person I was before I had travelled, just a little braver. That’s right, I was the brave big sister who had travelled the world by herself. I was fearless, strong and an independent young woman. What threat would a family dinner serve to me? However, I felt lost, confused and un-understood. My life had morphed into so much more than rising petrol prices. Of course I didn’t think I was any better or worse than them, I just felt out of place. I often tried to bring up the subject of my adventures in conversation, only for everyday priorities to take over.
“Alicia, I’m running late for work, we will talk later,” “I have just been so tired lately Alicia, I will look at your photos soon,” and on the odd occasion that I DID get a chance to talk to them about my travels or life overseas, it was terribly hard for them to understand. Just as it was difficult for me to describe such things as the colours of the African Sunset and how it took over more than just the sky, just how much the cobble stone streets in Bern, Switzerland pained my sprained ankle as I gingerly walked over them, or what it felt like to have a snow ball pulverise your face in London and the kind of mark if left. Why? Because, we’re living in separate real worlds.
My life can change so quickly in a short amount of time, for the better or for the worse, neither of which can really be extradited from the “jumbled mess.” The way each of us chooses to live our lives is our right. Rather than tell someone how to live, encourage him or her to live how he or she wishes to. Everyone needs validation and encouragement. For example, your ongoing support of my writing adds to my determination to become a successful writer!
The further I was from the travelling lifestyle - the constant learning, deep passionate atmosphere, and regularity of meeting people who had deep insights into life - the further I was away from my real world. This made me feel like a fake, that my life was useless. I was nowhere near the person I wanted to be, nor was I on the path to being her.
In an attempt to feel whole again, I tried to deny the feelings and fit into the mould of what I was supposed to be… what people told me I should be.
“You should socialise, have a lot of friends, be thin, have the latest fashionable clothes, work many hours at a job that is considered no less than what I you capable of, earn a lot of money, have a clean house, play with the boys – kiss a certain amount per night out, or not to kiss on the first date, don’t swear, don’t wear pink because your ex boyfriend didn’t like it, don’t get a lip ring as it looks trashy, never talk of religion or politics, don’t let things get to you so much….” and the list goes on and on.
I pose this question. What is the real world? And why do so many people believe in it?
The Real World.
Tell me where the door for the real world is and I’ll be quite happy to enter. It sounds like a wonderful place. The reality is, is that there is no such thing as the real world. What is it to you?
Teachers, Millionaires, Murderers, Rapists, Ambulance Officers, Police Officers, Checkout Chicks, Electricians, Circus Carnies, and Garbage People alike are all living in their real worlds. You’re living it right now, but are you happy?
Life is the longest thing you will ever know. You have an entire lifetime to love, learn, study, grow, travel, work, make babies, make money etc. You don’t need to do it when people tell you that you should. However, what if tomorrow never comes?
On my travels I have seen a life be taken away in a matter of just moments.
I was driving in Cape Town, South Africa, just returning from the supermarket. I saw an ambulance and asked my boyfriend (at the time) what was going on? He saw her before I did. He told me to close my eyes and quickly reached for me, but I was already involved. I saw the unfolding scene out of the corner of my eye first, before giving it my full attention.
I saw a lady. She was pretty, probably mid – thirties and lying on the road. A car had hit her at a high speed as she crossed the road. Her body parts were not in the places where they were supposed to be. She was alive and in pain. There was a lot of blood. I suspect she was only alive for a few more moments. She had just gone to pick up a few things from the supermarket.
I don’t mean to bring down the mood of this piece, so what’s my point? If you were she, could you say you lived the life you loved? In those few moments, could you say that you had been happy?
I met a beautiful man on my travels; he was travelling and solo climbing many of the world’s mountains, those well known and not - all off the beaten track. He had had a life set up a few years ago in the real world, a long-term girlfriend who wanted to marry him at 26 or so. I heard she was quite beautiful. He was highly educated and had a well-regarded job at a hospital, which wanted to promote him. But, he loved and longed for the wind on his face, sleeping under the stars, waking to the sunrise in Banff or Gimmerwald, and looking to the summit. He was young. He gave up that real world for a new one.
Lets call him Joe. Joe came in from the wilderness every now and again for a cold beer. It was on one of his cold beer retreats that he met me in Switzerland, and we clicked - chatted away for an entire evening at the bar. He took an interest in me; I could genuinely see it in his face. He said he saw a lot of his younger self in me.
I was only in Switzerland for that last night, but we met up a few weeks later in Paris.
He saw bravery in me, potential for a life to be lived well. He saw the adventure in my eyes. He saw that at the very point of my success of sole travel, I was barred, by the expectations of life.
One late night, spent sipping on French wine and gnawing on the cliché artisan baguette, he proclaimed, with much vigour and passion,
“Alicia, What makes you tick? What makes you happy? What makes you smile? Find what you love and do it! Even if your passion is filling the cracks in the pavement, do it! The more selfish you are, the more you will know yourself and the more you will know who you should be with! One day you’ll find someone else who gets their kicks from filling the cracks in the pavement, and you will make babies who too might love filling the cracks in the pavement, and live happily ever after. Be true to yourself. Know who you are! Be that person and the rest will come! You don’t have to prove a god damned thing to anyone.”
We stayed up late that night, drinking wine in our Parisian hotel room, wooden French doors opened out to the street, music in the background. He played a song from his IPOD, and pleaded for me to listen and try hearing what he could, for me to see what he could see… in me. “Listen to the words Alicia, this song was meant for you!”
The Song is RAMPARTS, by Kashmir.
I haven’t that beautiful man since, but I still remember the electricity in his eyes. I still remember the urgency in his voice and the way his scrunched up his face when he spoke. I also remember my sadness the day I kissed him goodbye at Gare Du Nord. But it was then my turn, my life, my creation, and my obligation to myself to fill it with whatever the hell I wanted. And no, I just don’t seem to get my kicks from filling cracks in the pavement. I like to write.
What do you want? What are your wildest dreams? List them. Post them here. Talk about them. Find people that believe in you. If one person doesn’t, find someone who does. I have, and will continue to.
We need to free ourselves of other people’s expectations, of other people’s real worlds. We need to live the life we love.
Because if we don’t and tomorrow never comes, what was the point of it all?
I am writing for my supper. If you liked my writing, please subscribe to my blog at , http://singforyoursupperbringinthebread.blogspot.com
If you have any feedback, both positive or constructive, please contact me. Tell me what you wish me to write about. I am currently trying to set myself up for a career in Freelance journalism, starting from scratch. If you have an old laptop, or camera you no longer use, if you believe in me, and would like to donate to contribute to my future, I would also like to hear from you. The only way is up.
Thank you for your support.