I’ve always been interested in writing, but I didn’t think of it as something I could do. I always thought; “I can’t write, why bother.” Still, the question lingered in the back of my mind: “what If I could?” And finally, a bit over a year ago, I thought I’d give it a try. I had planned a trip to Scotland and the day before I left, I stuffed everything I needed in my backpack, bought myself a fresh notebook, a pen and a bottle of whisky. The idea of a new, unknown place seemed like the ideal moment to start off my writing journey (or at least attempt to). And it was a successful attempt. The answer to the question of whether I can write will be left up to you, though.
Now I’m a board member of this magazine and you’re reading my first article. Since my introduction wasn’t conventionally informative, it made sense to dedicate this article to my first personal project, dragging you along my experiences and, most of all, vaguely written down thoughts and insights with an utter disregard for spelling and grammar.[(1)]
15 – 8 – 18 : Loch Lomond, Scotland
Am I an adventurer?
Or do I want to be an adventurer?
The water is calm, perhaps due to the calmness surrounding it. The few wrinkles are caused by stones coming from the hands of little boys.
“Mom, can we go back now?”
So it becomes quiet again, the only wrinkles that remain (come/are) from being itself.
“I’m gonna keep this or smash it on a rock.”
Those were the first words, at the start of two journeys.
I feel there is this notion that an adventurous mindset is a virtue. Like you’re expected to go on these big solo travels, typically to India or South America. It doesn’t have to be months on end but at least for a bit, being responsible for every step you take. Maybe this has always been a virtue, I don’t know, but I’ve always regarded it as such. Therefore, having an adventurous mindset was a quality I ascribed to myself. Not so much because I’m convinced that I am an adventurer, but because I wanted to be that person. Over a year ago I asked myself those questions (of whether I am or want to be an adventurer) and I can tell you I don’t have the answers yet. They’re tough questions, but at the same time probably quite easy; I am and I am not. I want to be, while at the same time not caring that much. Explaining an answer is usually the hardest part.
16 – 8 – 18 : Loch Lomond, Scotland
Perhaps being or becoming an adventurer takes time, something to get used to. Time to acclimatise to the situation. It always comes down to time.
We don’t (have/take) the time anymore to think about time. As a silent dictator it lurks in the background, an influence on all our actions. This, in itself, isn’t so bad. As with everything, it’s a matter of how you deal with it, how you react.
I haven’t had much to drink yet. Maybe I should wait?
The mountains defend the horizon from my sight. But the horizon is nothing, nothing more than a lack of defense for… well, for nothing.
I feel like I should be rhyming.
Not that I want to. Not at all.
As if I have to give some sort of literary or poetic value to what I write.
Yesterday went better.
Maybe I should give up.
One more cigarette and that’s that.
Then Sebas has to go to bed.
The first day I couldn’t believe how well it went, or at least felt. Taking hold of every impulse, ending up with fairly coherent and eloquent pieces, if I may say so myself.
But already on the second day I could feel a change. The only thing coming out were little snippets, the urge to do better and thus forcing myself to do so. Also now, thinking: this isn’t everything, there is more I can say about this, more I have to say. Most of all the writing has to be good.
But how, if you’re just starting out? The best answer I can give is this; just have a smoke and take a rest, try again later. Also ask yourself, and that’s probably most important, why should you give a shit?
22 – 8 – 18 : Inverness, Scotland
“Sometimes doing nothing leads to the best something.”
Wise words from a bear of little brain.
Sometimes it indeed leads to beautiful things. It comes down to a matter of patience, I guess.
Yet, doing nothing is something. Maybe I’ll come up with something better if I don’t write anything. I’m trying to force it, against my own will. Perhaps I’ll find you if I wait here.
The way forward is away from where you’ve been. More wise words from a bear with a lot of heart.
The adventurer in me, if he exists, agrees.
The rationalist knows it’s not true.
At least, not always.
I should go back; it’s almost time to go forward.
I’m a big fan of movies. I’m not sure whether my interest in ethics originates from cinematography or vice versa. Maybe there’s no causal connection between the two, but I’ve always appreciated their quality to showcase morality and ignite some serious (self-)reflection. Being in a foreign country on my own and watching a movie about the deepest “childhood philosopher” Winnie the Pooh probably didn’t hurt either.
But this bear does have a point; doing nothing is just as valid an option as doing something, and if anything comes out of it, it’s most likely unexpected. Choosing to do something specific usually implies having expectations and hopes for the outcome. Doing nothing, in the strict sense of the word, is impossible. However, I’d like to see it as “doing without expectations”: just doing without any hopes, intentions, and letting yourself be surprised by what comes forward from simply being. I think we can all benefit from the realization that the fear and pressure we experience is mostly irrelevant.
Just be content with being and let yourself be surprised.
30 – 8 – 18 : Newcastle, England
I hoped to end it “big”, in some way.
Kind of stupid.
As if the value of the whole is determined by this brief moment; the bangs and lights of a fireworks show before the dark silence, the final scene bringing everything together before the curtain falls, subtitles gliding along the screen.
Before you know it you’re back on the street, back home, back in the “real” world.
I wish I had more to say.
There is actually no need, more words will come.
The ending of a chapter doesn’t reveal the end of the story. You have to first find out what the story is.
Not everything has to be beautiful; that makes it even more beautiful.
There I was on the last night away from home, waiting for the ferry to bring me back. After watching Deadpool 2 in the shabby, on-board cinema I went back to my cabin and wrote this before going to sleep. This trip meant a lot to me: going to a country I’ve always wanted to visit, meeting up with one of my closest friends (we mostly travelled by ourselves and he isn’t referred to in my writing so I didn’t mention him, however he did make the trip even more special so I do feel obliged to mention him here) and, of course, finally taking up writing. Scotland provided me with so many impulses to react to and that was exactly what I feared going back home: falling back into the standard routine, not being triggered enough to write anything and losing the “momentum” I had built up on my trip. That did happen, but I’ll come back to that someday.
And so, on the ferry back to the Netherlands, my journey pretty much ended. Another journey however had only just begun. That sounds so cliché, but then again, clichés are clichés for a reason: because they’re true. Just like the hope for a big finale and the common disappointment when it doesn’t happen. Maybe you had hoped something similar reading this article.
If so, prepare to be disappointed.
No worries though, this is only the first in a whole series of disappointing ramblings to come.
[(1)] I should mention that the journal was originally written in Dutch. Therefore, I aimed to make the translations as literal as possible, to somewhat maintain the authenticity.