Some Chinese man over two thousand years ago once said that ‘A Journey of a Thousand Miles starts with the first footstep’. Most say it was Confucius but it’s actually attributed to Laozi. Many wouldn’t even care about who wrote it, but it’s in my weird pedantic nature to check these things I did care. I mean what if someone thought this piece of writing was attributed to someone else even if it does wreak of the fetid garbage that it is. You see I care that my legacy, whatever it might be. If someone, god forbids reads this in ten years’ time, I want them to judge me as the writer and not someone else.
So where was I? Ah yes the journey of a thousand miles’ quote. Sorry I ramble along taking diversions everywhere I go. In the car I see a sign to some ancient ruin or other such place or maybe a weird place name like Land of Nod and I have to make that diversion to see if the place matches the name. usually I’m disappointed and that ancient ruin is just a pile of stones which take a lifetimes imagination to make into a habitable dwelling and the Land of Nod is no place like what it conjures up in your dreams.
Damn getting diverted away from telling you this story once again. Even in the written world I tend to make mental diversions. I’m sure my journey of a thousand miles would be twice as long and ramble onwards without ever reaching the end. Sometimes that’s the whole point with journeys though isn’t it? To not reach the destination but to meander around discovering things around you and about yourself. Sometimes the final point of the journey isn’t really a place you want to reach. Like that trip to the auntie as a child, you know the one who smelt of moth balls and that over powering perfume that makes you gag when she hugs and kisses you.
Journeys don’t have to be physical though do they? There are many journeys that are made without ever leaving the chair or even the bed. Mental journeys to the unknown, the unexplored or more usual for me the well-trodden streets haunt me as I meander around. These journeys take all night sometimes, shadowy figures haunting and taunting me from behind bushes as I wander along through the darkness.
So that brings me back to the start, to the journey I want to relate to you. I never want to finish this one but if I do, I want this on record of how I felt and what really happened. So I guess it’s time to make that first step or maybe the first word. Now however I’ve been writing for over four hundred words just explaining. See how muddled my min has become, how crammed with useless information and you might realise why people avoid me, why I will walk the road alone. I’ll stop there before I break into song. I guess procrastination is starting again and although I want to finish this piece I want to avoid writing some of it. It’s painful at times.
So let’s take you back to the start of the journey. I’m bruised and battered, both mentally and physically, lying in the bed wondering if I should end the journey before it starts. There are the means at hand in front of me. Maybe it would be better for everyone if the journey ends right there and then. When you’re had bits ripped from your body and mind it’s difficult to even imagine that the end of the journey is far away. When the energy required to make that first step is missing how do you begin the journey? Where does the energy come from? I guess it’s from within and somehow that night when carrying on seemed so far away I found that spark that I needed. My pig headedness to not give people the last say in my life rearing its head for the good this time maybe.
I’ve fought the demons a lot as I wandered forward over this past year. Seen things in my mind and in my head that have seriously made me doubt that the journey I was on was going to be long. Sometimes the reality and fantasy get mixed up. Separating the strands becomes difficult at times. Did I really watch a rainbow rise over the valley that crisp cool autumn morning or was it in my subconscious? Did I want to see it and imagine it or was it reality I was experiencing? There have been many times that I seriously have doubted my sanity.
Some steps down the road have been painful and solitary. Family is a great healing factor as I’m becoming to realise after many years of friction. They’d been a certain abrasion between me and my loved ones for too long. Those barbed words which can never be withdrawn or retracted. The emotions that were raised by the constant fighting, back biting and vicarious comments make wounds difficult to heal, pus and septicaemia weeping constantly from those abrasions. Time is a healer though and the difficultness of the steps have brought us together in what was once a unholy peace now bond us together like superglue. Without them I would have finished this great journey on the day I started. Without them I would now be just a memory and the words here never written.
Roads are never straight and diversions put in my way had me meandering down back streets in the hope of finding a way forward. Do you read those books that make you weave about the pages depending on the decisions you take? Steve Jackson was my hero, writing such tomes about these dark dungeons full of monsters and goblins all intend on taking your lifeblood. Each time you read them you imagine what you did last time but most times you end up your guts spewed out all over the floor, taking your last breath and wanting to restart. Sometimes life has felt just like that, except the dungeons I encountered have smelt of antiseptic and rather than the grime and squalor of Jackson’s worlds these were bright and white. It still felt as though I was fighting those Goblins and that at any minute I’d turn the page and find the words ‘Your life force is drained, you slump down onto the floor and the rats knew at your body. Go to page fifteen and restart.’ Except there is no real restart on this journey. If it ends you don’t get to restart. That’s it no restarts or false endings.
Friendships are hard for me. Over the years through one thing or another I’ve been abandoned, left, ignored and worse been lied to. I find it hard to trust what people say, yet I believe people too easily. A conundrum that I can’t break away from. I wish I kept to my guns and did one or the other but it’s difficult. You see I get bamboozled way too easily, love that word bamboozled, sucked in and believe people. Then halfway through a relationship I see the reflections of past times showing through the lustre of the new tarnishing my mind and disrupting the flow. I see the same signs, but then they’re not always the same meaning. I’m a fool though and I interpret them the same, the downward spiral of trust reappears polluting the union with caustic thoughts, making something that was once pure seem incredibly foul tasting.
It’s my own fault. For any journey to be enjoyable you need companionship. Someone to keep you on the journey, stop you crashing into another disaster, encouraging you to take a diversion. Laughter is a precious tool. Some say it’s the best medicine of all. Certainly compared with the myriad of drugs I take to keep my fragile body from journey’s end it’s far better than anything. Friends make you laugh, make you smike and keep you sane. The very best friends inspire you to raise your game, to make the prospect of falling into the abyss remote. We keep seeking that partner to sit with us, making the life enjoyable. We could wander on without anyone but to be honest laughter is meant to be shared.
Not everything on life’s rich journey is happiness though. The last year has had much heartache. At times the never ending compulsion to glance in the rear view mirror has left me forgetting that to be safe you need to keep your eyes on the road. I’m not sure if what I was doing was checking to see if I was getting further from what had left me behind or if I wanted them to be still looming bright in the mirror. Too much gazing of where I’ve been is a trait I need to rid myself of. Whether I can actually do this is up in the air but these days I’m happy to report that the glances are less frequent and I can almost see a clear view behind me.
There have been many boring bits to this my trek. Like all long solace’s we find parts of the landscape familiar, nothing to excite our eyes or our senses. Endless miles spend driving along through wastelands that neither excite or whet our appetites for life. We tend to remember the highlights and lowlights of a journey but ignore those times when nothing happened at all. The bits where a game of I-Spy keeps us trundling along oblivious to what might be happening. I guess these are the majority of times, the mundane that we never remember from one minute to the next.
Recently the journey has become more agreeable, even exciting. A sun seems to have risen in the east which is bathing me with the warm glow and allowing me to bask in its gentle rays. These days the darkness of the early segment has gone away. Sure there are still the odd dark forest to be navigated late at night, but on the whole the sun is accompanying me along the road reaching out to guide me and comfort my tired body. I have high hopes the sun will stay with me for the rest of the journey shining down.
You see in the last year, I’ve prayed at times that I could stop the car and let the journey end. It’s an awful thought when I look back that somehow I wasn’t paying attention to the surroundings, not enjoying myself like I should. Have you ever felt like you’re wasting your life? One thing I have found is that life is so precious and the way we travel the road is so important. You can wander along ignoring those around you, forgetting that you should have fun. A journey is only ever exciting and pleasurable if you look past the obstacles and spend loads of time on the curving road ahead.
So I guess what I’m saying I that I don’t want this journey to end. My sun has given me new life and I want this journey to go on forever. I’m going to take whatever diversion I can find, wander to see as many old temples and ruins as come into view. I know that there will be major bumps in the road and sometimes it’ll feel like the end is in sight but I want to carry on. Sometimes the journey doesn’t have to have a purpose, sometimes the journey is far more entertaining than the end.
I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever happens I’m not in a hurry for this one to end. It’s been a long time since I felt this way. There have been random acts of kindness on the way that helped me keep going, a friend in Iowa, a sister, Scottish connections, someone very Worthing and of course my sun rising in the east. This journey can’t end because when it does that’s it, just two words left… The end.