How this walk was framed in my mind – what it’s purpose was, it’s integral, essential reason – was to answer the ultimate life question: To live or not to live. It really was all about that. This may sound overly self importantly dramatic and indulgent, but it was what lay at it’s heart. Why was it that I saw it in such a way? Because I had got so stuck in my life. It may then have been that I needed such grandiosity to lift me into harnessed reason. Seeing it and framing it like this, and feeling that this is what my life had come to was a way of stripping my world, from here, into a clear cut one.
Before I was in a place where I struggled in seeing any avenue of purpose left to me in life. At the heart of everything, I had a big, big problem that everything in my life seemed to get back to. I had blockages in my mind, from past traumas, that had led onto depriving me of intimacy in life of any kind. I could not get passed many an obscure demon of fear and doubt, and it crippled me. Humiliating; it led to huge frustration and a feeling that I was pathetic. The consequence was that I felt condemned to be forever alone in life. What was the point in anything if I was to be like this…..to me it was an irrefutable argument that marred my whole conceptions of life and self. In part an excuse, because with it my life had definition, I could always fall back on things that had happened to me in self pity. But it was also a hugely big and pressurising burden to carry, and I can only think that it did take a lot of strength not to give in on everything.
Whatever was the case, I was in this time in particular, overly befuddled with uncertainty, which was all upheld so potently by my obscure fears that were me, and in which I could not see anyway around. Consequently my existence seemed one of long term futurelessness. Why do anything today? Why take small steps today in life and career to realise those big dreams of tomorrow, if there is no sensed secure tomorrow you can either believe in or see? An incapacity to this, even in the remotest tangible way, had catastrophic consequences in how I allowed my life to slide. Things fall apart in life when there is no defined action to the steps one takes in one’s daily life. The only reason to live in normal life – to live at all – seemed to be to simply survive. To cling to this for the sake of clinging to piecemeal security felt emasculating. I could not just live to survive as some kind of human non entity. There was no excitement in this, nothing to ignite the excitement for life. Nothing to engage my determination and drive……and so for all this it was that I thought it was shriveling away. I had nothing to offer, nothing I could do, my problems huge as they were to me, could not be got around, they defined everything. The prospect of homelessness had almost nonchalantly, beforehand, seemed but a small issue compared to everything else. If it was to be my undoing that did me in then so be it. If, on the other hand, I had strength to handle it and get through it, then maybe there would be something revealed to me within upon which I could build on: Homelessness was a way of irretrievably seeing whether this was the case or not. This was the only way to challenge once and for all an imbued fatalistic outlook on life that had a hold over me.
My real immense fear, greater than homelessness and any kind of material squalor or degradation, was that that fire within – my determination – would wither away and leave me. This was my worst fear of all, because it was the loss, the destruction of what I most valued within. I could not see how I could live life without this, I would be vacuous and without fight within. And if I did not have any fight I could not work my way to change my life’s most arduous internal challenges – I needed all my strength I had to do this.
The previous year before homelessness happened had been so hard because I believed, I felt, that my will was dying. It was a terrible, wasted, year in which I was disconnected from life. I was marooned in my head, weighed down by a vicious mist of negativity which poisoned me through it’s self recriminating doubts and shame. Nothing was clear, nothing worthwhile, everything was shrouded in an embittered ghost like hopelessness. I lacked belief in myself in the day to day motions of life, and so I did not engage with pursuits of any note. Everything was done half heartedly in this place, this was a rotten, hollowed out way of living life. In a state like this, that determination within felt battered, done in, gone. I thought, judging by the life I had been living, that it was leaving me – indeed it may already have left – forever. And this I was powerless to prevent, since I could find nothing constructive in life in which to engage myself with and ignite my long lost fire. This environment I had been living in over the previous year, I felt had been killing it. My worst fear now was that this determination, this fight within was dead. How I tormented myself with this fear. This, therefore, was what the hike I was undertaking now was about: it was to see whether I still had any inner fight for life. To not have it, to have lost it, I was not me…..I could no longer have lived life since I would have been dead to myself. To live or not to live depended upon whether I could rouse that fight within when I, now, needed it more than I had ever done.
I now know that this – being an innate quality as it is – never leaves one. It was unfounded, since it’s energy had merely gone into the viciousness of the harmful part of myself that darkly inflicted such abuse upon myself, the consequence of too much suppressed constructive ambition. But then I did not know this, I never knew it, I never believed it. I was terrified it had gone. The dark, sadistic side of me tormented myself with these doubts, until I was at the point, here, of believing that what I most nauseously feared had become the case. I was a vicious bastard to myself, a bastard that was scathingly frustrated at life. My incapacity to see things clearly, while fighting myself to this excessive extent, meant that I had lost all reasoned perspective on life. My self centred recriminations were destroying all my faith in life itself.
I wanted to see, through this walk, if I had the determination to walk huge distances, to go to my physical limits, to rise above the discomfort and use it to fuel me on because pushing myself beyond my limits still mattered to me. If I could still embrace and be inspired by the rigours, by the hardship – like I had once been – by the suffering of such a challenge, then that yearning, that fire within, was still determined to expand, and go beyond, my life’s horizons and limits. Pushing myself had used to be about caring for life. Suffering to me mattered, because in being able to endure it for a constructive, meaningful challenge, then in this, was the proof that life did matter. In knowing places that in the short term are hard and terribly trying, is worth it if it is for a greater purpose. If I could not do this, if I could not push myself through the short term discomforts that needed to be faced, then the desire to scale new heights in life, and to overcome obstacles that lay in my way would no longer matter sufficiently; and if doing this did not really matter to me then the light within could not shine, since my fire of determination was smothered. I needed the determination in it’s fullest potential within if – ultimately – I did want to change my life, if I were still to have hopes of, and belief in, overcoming the pain and the challenges that had dogged me in life itself. This hike was a rehearsal for life, to see what I had within, to prove to myself it was there and strong and so could get me through these choppy life waters I found myself in. Connected and reacquainted to it I could embrace life again in all it’s rich and challenging nuances.
Could I, would I do this hike with the fullness of my heart? Whenever I did things in life half heartedly I felt weak and altogether disinterested. If I could not propel myself to give my best and to care about what I was doing when I was doing something that I needed to do and which should have been important, it would feel terribly dispiriting. To not feel life sufficiently, I felt altogether reduced as a person. There were plenty of things in those recent times I knew I should have cared about doing well, but however much I tried to cajole myself into feeling it, and doing it like it mattered, my heart could just not respond. It was crushing. The standards we set ourselves are ours to live up to, they matter because they are about respecting ourselves and honouring the opportunity of life. I don’t mean in this that one has to be perfect and better than everyone else (whatever such a nebulous and limiting, ego driven notion may mean) . No, what I mean is simply in giving your best, in trying your hardest and letting the necessary fiery passion burn forth, of itself, in the moment when it is needed most. In the things I used to enjoy most I knew how it felt when I did it to the best of my ability. This is why I so like sports because in it I could feel these nuances so clearly.
I made my way towards the sea and the neighbourhood of Poble Nou. I was going to leave at nightfall. I had few hours to stop and wait and let things sink in. In leaving at night I intended to walk through the night and to walk all the next day as I wanted to walk further than I had ever done before in one single day. I wanted to cover a good distance and go to my limits. This would be sport. Good sport is a battle, an inner fight to conquer my known limits.
This condensed challenge would fill this next day of my life. The day was set. At least I was doing something that mattered to me. I could even relish the day, by relying on myself rather than being weighed down blindly with subsuming and humungous worries. It was about having the right focus, if my focus was put into something constructive and life affirming then maybe through it I would gain a more balanced perspective on my life and my problems. This challenge gave me the time and the space to do this. Time and space in life can be everything. aa