Writing a travel blog is as much about what you’re seeing as it is about what you feel as you enter each place and speak to the people there and experience their ways of life. The last three weeks have been a learning experience for me, not without its fair share of trouble along the way, and plenty of things that just can’t be written here for reasons that also can’t be written here, but overall, I have changed inside, I have become someone that has seen more and experienced more, and I want to share some of this with all of you, whoever you are that is reading this.
As a child life is something we witness, make our choices based on what’s around us and what’s happening to us on a daily basis, but as we develop we are able to make those choices based on a more solid grounding of experience and reason, and see the world and what’s around us with more open eyes. Had I done this journey ten years ago, I would have taken far less from it. Sure, I could have perhaps been more lively, learnt some of the things about me sooner rather than later, but my eyes would still have been half closed, and as a result I would have seen far less, taken in and processed very little, and become someone I would not be happy with in my present state of mind. Losing my father is perhaps one of the definitive parts of my life, but it hasn’t been something that’s held me back, rather it is the reason I am the way I am. We share a lot between us, from the dark hair to our eyes and even voice, but what sets us apart is that we went about our lives independently from each other, yet have become very similar people.
I’ve come to realise that I am a bit crazy. Not crazy as in going mad at the weekends, dying my hair pink and going to Tibet for some lost hope of self-realisation, but crazy as in incapable of ever being a full part of anything that I desire. I am at my own mercy when it comes to how I develop my personality, and in continuing the way I have done I am only making it harder for myself as time goes on. I had a burning desire inside to find out what happened to my father, to discover how I came to be, and in doing so I have found some answers, and re-connected with family I thought was long lost forever but in fact were physically very close for a long time, and it leaves you with a sense of what could have been should I have undertaken this journey a long time ago. I don’t think I was capable ten years ago of being as open minded as I am now, and I don’t think I would have been the kind of person that my family would have enjoyed being back in contact with. I have travelled down to Africa in search of myself, found out so much, and despite the pain and long nights of thinking about what could have been I do believe that things were always going to be this way. Crazy as I am, I see that my future can still be bright and full of love and wonder, I just need to keep my chin up, keep walking the straight line and never look back in despair. I am still socially inept for 50% of each day, I have tried being sober, drunk, stoned, busy, lazy and everything else that I can think of, and nothing has ever made me feel any different. I want to let this go, to be more than just the guy who moans about life and continues to destroy his ambitions, but it is who I am, and the sooner I embrace this the sooner I will find the salvation I’ve been searching for.
I’m on the verge of explaining exactly what has lead me to this line of thought, but as I said above, I really don’t think that I can be as candid as I’d like, and so I have to skirt around the issue, and try to explain what it has lead me to think without being too specific. Life throws swing balls at you, and when you’re put on the spot by anyone, it’s hard not to feel like you’re stuck in the middle, yet we are all capable of making our choices and mistakes with no input from anyone else. Some people have disappointed me in a way that leaves me feeling like I am being unreasonable or over-presumptuous, secrets I hold are both difficult to keep and burning me from the inside as they destroy those that are affected, but secrets they must remain, as it is not my place to get involved in affairs of this kind. Some things must be left to ruin themselves, and some things must be salvaged with an outside hand. It’s with this thought in mind that I change the subject slightly, and continue with my journey…
Whilst in Zimbabwe I met some incredibly interesting people who have helped me understand more about the human condition than anything you can read in a book or on the internet or anywhere else. Life there, as in many African countries has been a constantly evolving and changing animal that has influences ranging from both extremes of good and bad, yet among those that have survived the worst of it spring forward bright rays of hope that give me strength that I am not alone in my quest to be a proper person in the world. I have been told about land reform and how it affected the people who have been moved, as well as hearing exact contradiction from others in the same city. I listened and took in as much as I possibly could without being overly nosy or intrusive, and I can tell you it has opened my eyes even more. I wish I could share more of this story, but it is not the right thing to do, and so I will leave it as it is, and merely use that information for myself to help me understand how wonderful and evil people can be to each other. It is a miracle that humanity has survived this long given the huge disparity in beliefs and values that exist in just one country in one continent of this one planet. We are together and alone in equal measure even with different backgrounds we all share one common theme that we are alive and will continue to live together on this planet in whatever way might happen. Being crazy perhaps helps me to see this in a more open way, but in any case, my existence, short and sweet as it is in the grand scheme of things will be significant and nothing at the same time. It is up to me to become what I want to be, to fit into the world as my own person and being as one with my surroundings.
I’m sitting in a lovely hotel in Kigoma looking out over Lake Tanganyika at the mountains of Western Congo, and talking with Fionnuala about the horrific and indescribable atrocities that have and continue to happen over there, and it brings home the reality of how fragile our existence is. Within 100km of where I am sat there are people who know nothing of peace and prosperity, yet within their boundaries the notion of love continues to exist and even thrive. Our problems, my problems, your problems are all just leaves falling from aging trees, and we should all stop to realise how powerful each and every one of us really is. The next few chapters of my life are unwritten, they hold truths and falsehoods hope and despair, and I can’t wait to know what’s around the corner. When I return to Marangu I will be a different man than he who left there a month ago, and I can’t wait to see what he’s capable of. Maybe I’m being too emotional, maybe I just need to wake up and stop being such a crybaby. I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I am me, and that is something that I will endure for the rest of my days.