One day I noticed that I had a hole. Just like that – just like, let’s say, a sock can have one. It appeared suddenly and without any warning, as holes in socks usually do – you take off your shoe and BAM! There it is – a hole. It’s not like you don’t know why it happened – the shoes had been kind of rubbing your foot for a while now, and your nails could have used a trim… But everything seemed fine, even if hanging by the last thread, it was functioning, so you carried on somehow. You were convinced that it’s fine, that you still had time, and you lived off that hope in a growing bubble of tension and future misfortune. But sooner or later all socks get holes in them, and so I got one as well. It’s just that my hole goes through me. There is no thread you can use to sew me back up, it’s a hole that goes beyond the three dimensions of a sock. A hole in the soul of the lost wanderer, who for each journey, each newly chosen path, every step taken into the unknown – pays with parts of themselves.
Or was it the lack of journeys and continuous delights that drilled this hole through my stomach?
I can’t count how many times have I heard that travelling nurtures and refines you. You travel to places you hadn’t even dreamed of, and you meet people whose life stories go beyond your perception of the world. And so you learn to expand it – you experience even more, you accept, you understand, you feel. You appreciate. And so you grow.
But Bruno Catalano said that travelling destroyed him. That while making his way from one port to another ever since he was a child, and travelling to countless places in which he left pieces of himself, he lost the meaning of his existence somewhere on the way. Maybe the world actually devours us a little. Destroys part of what we hold inside. At first that’s what I thought – that it was the world that destroyed me. That all of this talking about the “magic” of journeys was nothing but just bullshit, because walking the unbeaten paths exhausts us in every possible way, and makes us realise the insignificance of our own being and all of the flaws of the world (which you have no power over, no matter how much you wish you did).
It felt obvious that it was this ruthless reality of the modern world that drilled this hole in me, took all of my hope away and kept ripping me in half more and more with every step I made. I thought I’m slowly disappearing just like Catalano’s sculptures are – there’s less and less of me left after every journey I undertake. You can’t hear this pain, it has no physical form, it hides somewhere deep under your skin, flows in your blood, rings in your ears. That’s the pain of the soul that grieves for everyone who’s ever been bruised, the pain I experienced around every corner, mostly throwing myself into an endless spiral of anxiousness. Everything I laid my eyes upon, everything that hurt humanity, hurt me the same; every tear shed by the universe ran down my cheek. It’s weird to live like that. To exist as a whole, but in million pieces. Tearing apart at every turn. Soundlessly crying for help.
And yet I still can’t imagine living my life differently.
Now I know it wasn’t the world, but lack of it that broke me so much. Even though sometimes it hurts like hell as if my head was about to explode, I can’t live without it. I need to get out there and see all of it myself, get hurt, get lost, so that I can then return to my safe haven and process the pain of the universe I can’t wrap my mind around. Now I know that just because I feel like I’m going to disappear, doesn’t mean that the next moment I won’t be here anymore. It’s just fear of incoming change that follows me while travelling. It hurts because the scabs that formed all over my past wounds are breaking away, because I’m opening myself up to what is now, and preparing for what is still yet to come.
There always comes a moment when we must stick our nose out of our comfort zone to refresh and tidy up everything that has been carelessly laying around in our heads. I’ve been stuck in a place I don’t belong to for way too long now. It’s Van Gogh’s sculpture that reminds me of that. I see the open sea behind him, perfectly inscribed in his silhouette, a place carefully selected by Catalan. It is the world that makes him full again. Everything that life has ever given him is in the bag he has in his hand, things he had found and earned while travelling. Every person he met, every emotion he felt, every place he lived in. That’s how you open your mind.
And you could think that Catalano exaggerated it when he was complaining about his travels. After all, he lived a carefree life, listening to whispers of the waves while discovering the secrets of the universe. But what if out of all the ports he visited, not one has ever been his “safe harbour”? There’s nothing wrong with travelling, as long as you know what are you coming back to. Where is this place on the Earth, in which I’ll allow my wounds to heal, accept the inevitable, calm my galloping thoughts? Where is that someone, who’ll wipe my tears, make me some tea, calm me with love? Now I understand Catalano’s pain – not having a home is like not having yourself. That’s what he was missing. A serene place, familiar faces, collected memories, that would remind him who he truly is.
And I also get paralyzed sometimes when I’m not sure where my place is, as if I couldn’t belong anywhere anymore. Even though I know that there’s still a long way to go, even though I know the price of each step, I still decide to keep going, with my head held high and eyes wide open. I go with hope in my heart which I still haven’t lost in all this mess somehow – the hope for a place I’ll one day be able to call my own.
So I packed my suitcase. It’s been a while since the last time I did that so there’s a bit of a mess there. I have some dreams that got mixed up with fear. My favourite T-shirt, the one with “hope” written on it, had been stained by doubts I accidentally spilled from a bottle I didn’t close properly. Crumbs of anger, frustration, and helplessness lie right next to the peace of mind and inner happiness, like bits of leftover rotten cookies. But that’s all right, life gets messy sometimes – I’ll take them all anyways. Perhaps along the way I’ll meet another lost wanderer – someone who has already discovered more secrets of the universe. Maybe they’ll help me make sense of this mess. Find a place where I could sit down and put it all back together with a bit of peace. Fill this hole, this gaping, empty void, that I sometimes carry within me.