(It has been over 600 days since my last drink!)
(It has been over 600 days since my last drink!)
Getting ready for a new adventure.
Will I blog about it? Who knows. Probably.
During a stay in Tokyo (1964-1965), Daan van Golden produced several paintings based on designs found on Japanese wrapping paper and domestic textiles. These square, chequered pictures reproduce the woven pattern of handkerchiefs. The artist required extreme concentration to paint the fine structure of crossing lines. Thus painting also became a form of meditation for him.
I spotted this painting at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam last summer. The crappy, badly lit smartphone pictures I took don’t do this piece of art any justice. It’s so meticulously detailed, it’s almost scary.
One article I read about the artist suggested that he created this painting (and a few more like it) to relax and calm after long days in Tokyo.
Artistic expression as a form of meditation to unwind… There certainly are worse ways to keep your sanity.
Alhoewel, alcohol was verboden deze week. In de folder stond dat het niet de bedoeling was om de issues waarvoor je kwam op een makkelijke manier moeilijker te maken.
Remember when I said I co-funded/founded a book publisher called Das Mag Uitgevers?
This weekend, I got their first release in the mail; a collection of short stories by Maartje Wortel. Right in time for Sinterklaas, too!
The quote at the top of this post is from the first story, Het Kamp (“The Camp”), and roughly translates to:
However, alcohol was forbidden this week. The brochure stated that you weren’t supposed to make your issues more difficult in [such] an easy way.
(Context: After months of unfruitful therapy, the female protagonist joins a men-only lumber therapy camp.)
This passage made me smile, as did the title of the book: “Something Needs To Happen”.
Yeah, alcohol was a really easy way to make my issues more difficult. In fact, alcohol was probably source to most of issues I encountered, both at home, at work, in my social life, in my head, as well as in Japan. Something needed to happen.
So I made it happen.
“In the months after my return home, more and more friends told me that, while they thought I was a dunce for choosing Iran as destination for my solo travel, they understood how I felt. Some of them had also spent their world trips being lonely and confused in their hotel room. Others never admitted that they felt terribly unhappy while studying abroad. Even the people who studied in Flanders, Belgium told me that they had a lot of trouble adjusting to the locals. The most notable thing was how much these setbacks had surprised us. As if anyone ever promised us it would be different.”
Another excerpt from Een grootse mislukking by Rutger Lemm, the book I wrote about before in my post on cultural discomfort.
So, clearly the phenomenon is pretty common. Is it weird that we ended up like that, though? Are we just weak? Unsuitable for faraway, lonely travel? Actually, I don’t think so. One of my friends put it like this:
“For a lot of people, going to a party, meeting, or any other gathering of people on their own is nerve wracking. What you did was a bit more intense.”
Let’s see. I was traveling…
No wonder I felt stressed! Sure, it’s always unsettling to get out of your comfort zone. But hell, my comfort zone was over twenty-thousand kilometers away from me at the time!
Be sure to pay attention to the last few sentences in the above excerpt:
“The most notable thing was how much these setbacks had surprised us. As if anyone ever promised us it would be different.”
Of course, no one actually promised it would be a non-stop party, but I find that the stories you hear from friends, the pictures on your Facebook wall, and blogs about traveling often give a distorted view on the subject of solo travel. No one likes to admit that they were miserable for even a day or a few hours, save for some complaints about rain and crappy taxi drivers. Instead, all you ever hear about is how liberating solo travel is, how much fun it can be and that you’ll learn a lot about yourself.
And it’s true. My trip was liberating, it was a lot of fun, and I definitely learned a lot about myself. I think that is why, four months later, I am still writing about my trip; it is to remind myself that there were good things and bad things.
And perhaps more importantly, which things were good and which things weren’t.
I actually had a list of things I wanted to do on that last day. I still had a lot of souvenirs to buy, a Tokyo Tower to climb, and a cool little gallery that I wanted to visit. After breakfast, and halfway through my third cigarette, only one thought remained though.
“Eh, fuck it.”
This week marks my 3rd full month of sobriety. Time to celebrate! But how do you top going skydiving?
You don’t, really. At least, I didn’t have any cool ideas this time around. So instead, I decided to donate and crowdfund the money I saved:
Money well spent, I believe.