Man, I’m so stressed. I’ve been letting thoughts build some fort of anxiety in my head lately and now I am just looking at myself with contempt.
I don’t know what triggered this stress but I feel obsess with knowing where I belong and what I’m entitled to. I can’t ignore that being born in Europe at this time is basically life being handed to you on a silver platter. Along with ‘luck’, I was granted with knowledge and conscience. And I know it’s a privilege many don’t have access to.
And I wonder, do I deserve it? Am I legitimate to being so lucky and having supporting family/friends?
I feel like conscience comes with responsibility. You know and therefore, you have the duty to do something about things you find unfair.
Damn if you knew the number of things I find unfair in this world. I certainly don’t have a solution to fix them all, but I can’t stop thinking it’s not working as it should (and could hopefully?) be.
I talked about that around me, to strangers with whom I shared the road some weeks ago. The conclusion we came up to is that it is a complex thing to change the world. Too big, too omniscient to even grasp a firm concept of what the world/system/global is.
You can only do so much. You can do some resistance in a world you find unfair. You can’t change the rules but you can bend them a little to create a ‘fairer’ space, even a tiny one.
You can do some resistance in a world you find unfair. You can’t change the rules but you can bend them a little to create a ‘fairer’ space, even a tiny one. You can do acts of kindness in a harsh environment, just to make it a bit less hostile. And hope that this act of kindness you did will encourage another one to be created.
It’s all about planting a seed and hoping it will grow. Sometimes it won’t and it will be doomed to perish in dirt, negligence and cold. But at least you gotta try.
Do things at your scale and persist, even when you don’t see the results right away. I mean, with time, the amount of good will and positivism you put into something gotta make a difference right? Or at least trigger something that will?
I just need the reassurance that this isn’t blind hope and that the position I’m in isn’t going to waste. There are many things I am not happy with. But I don’t want to just be the little angry European that will do nothing about it.
So now that the solution seems laid down (do things at your scale, you cannot change the world), I should just deal with it and stop feeling guilty for the world’s misery.
Yet, I feel like each passing day is a reminder that I’m making no difference to anyone or anything and I feel selfish for going on with my days with things that are only related to me or my close environment.
I need to ease this feeling of culpability. I need to learn how to cohabitate without getting consumed.
I need to learn to be peaceful again.
Ah damn. I’ve started at least three articles and stopped writing them because they were nothing else than a bundle of anxiety and panic attacks.
I live in pure anguish lately and my mind is busy making a tedious list of all the things out of my control such as; stress, my legitimacy, world poverty, injustice, unfairness, rape culture, growing & latent racism, ignorance, privilege and duty.
This is basically what my nightmares are made of for the moment. And I have this delightful ability to contemplate all it is I could be doing but am not doing. Thanks to this gracious work, I feel like I’m making one with the very concept of culpability.
It’s a terrible thing feeling guilty for just being.
Kids, if you see someone nurturing carefully their low self-esteem, be nice and get them out of it. Nothing good comes out of it, really. It’s just decay from the moment you’re questioning your right to be.
I should chill really but it’s difficult when it seems that your head is underwater and you realize it’s your own hands keeping you down there.
I want to share some of my doubts.
Thing is, the doubts I want to share are usually restrained by a kind of elegant savoir paraître (knowing how to make-believe) where damn, even if your life is indeed ripping you to shreds and you don’t have an once of certainty, you should shut your mouth, suck it up and look like if right now is the most amazing of times. Social media does just that and everyone do their best to make it look like every day is an endless paradise of porn food, amazing landscapes and grateful friends.
I want to be an optimist. I feel like no one in this world will be optimistic for me and that I won’t help adding to the constant negativity if I were to decide we were screwed anyway.
Disclaimer: this was written at 4 a.m. at 2645 m. of altitude while waiting for a timelapse. Read and corrected several days later, you get there the essence of what’s been bothering me lately. Concentrated and explicit.
First words I want to write are: damn, are we really in August already?
Am I 21 already?
Beginning of July, I was looking at my summer like this plan-less period of time where both wonderful things and boring ones could happen. Luckily for me, it turned out to be the first option and I’ve lived some things I didn’t thing I would. In a nutshell, got dragged into the crazy organization of the European football tournament in France that led me to accompany a group of 15 English that later got drunk and got lost in the city of St Etienne (that I had to look for at midnight). I accompanied an infamous European prime minister (I’ll let you guess, who in Europe is in power at the border and has fascist/racist views?) to a football match and we got escorted by the police on the highway. It was quite something to see. I accompanied a group of people from Saudi Arabia and got kindly invited to see the match Portugal – Iceland. I accompanied a group of Australian tourists and got invited to a visit of a chocolate factory (where to be honest, all I did was eat chocolate all morning). Got dragged to bars to work for an infamous French betting game company. I hated it but it did bring me to places I’d never go (a bar during a match? It’s literally drunk people everywhere).
Some other odd jobs before I fly for the island of Lampedusa to volunteer and protect a natural area where turtles lay their eggs in the summer season. This was a spontaneous decision, took a week before the actual departure, without really thinking too much about it. When I arrived 12 hours later with 3 delayed flights, I was thrown in the lion’s den and my first encounter with Italian was violent.
To put a bit of context, I learned Italian for 5 years at school but never got a chance to actually speak it. Of course, when I occasionally went on holidays in touristic destinations, I would try to mumble some words but would often be interrupted to continue the discussion shamefully in French or in English.
So that was the first time I actually got the chance to use some of my Italian, 3 years after my last Italian lessons in high school. The first night was sad. I could understand what was being said to me but what came out of my mouth was only a mixture of English and Japanese (which for a reason sounds like Italian to me?) and I kept quiet the two first days.
And this was after a two hour flights where I was sat next to an Italian version of Ben Affleck (with the haircut from the Argo movie), architect, very kind, very cute, and I was starting to realize that I actually couldn’t speak Italian at all. He couldn’t speak English and had a broken French but we managed to have a conversation mixing the two languages we could barely use. At this moment, I had some doubts about my decision to come to Lampedusa and be of actual use with no skill in the language at all.
Things got worse the day after my night arrival, as we left the house at 7:30 a.m. to go down at the beach we were working on and I was asked to go interact with people. The beach being a natural reserve, there are some strict rules that need to be respected, such as not taking rocks from wherever the fuck people take them and not put them on the beach because otherwise turtles cannot lay their eggs anymore. Simple uh? Try to argue that with tourists whose first argument is: “I paid to be there!”
Anyway, this ruth way of learning was the best as I had to quickly learn and override any ounce of shyness that was in me. I had to get out there, be confident and try to make myself understood. I was surprised by how quickly I adapted myself and how well I could express my ideas and opinions in Italian. I had so little faith in my language skills and really thought I’d be condemned to be the silent foreigner in the group for 10 days.
But damn, I was so wrong. The experience was amazing, the people extraordinary and I got to discover the culture of a language I learned for years. In Junior High School, I wanted to learn Spanish but classes were full. It was out of question for me to choose German (I’ll say it: French people make fun of the German language out of ignorance. The accents that are mocked aren’t German for a dime, and after knowing more about what actually is German and what is the accent we were mocking -a Dutch accent-, I do think it was completely unjust. Damn, German is pretty, just watch Goodbye Lenin and close your eyes when Christiane is talking. Sugar for your ears.) so I chose Italian. I had no attach, no particular interest and decided that the best way to deal with this situation was to do my best to be absolutely shitty in Italian. Which I did successfully for 4 years out of 5. The last year, when I realized I was wasting my time and I could actually get some interesting experience from it, I decided to learn. But it was too late, I was behind in class and while I was still struggling with conjugation and grammar, other students would be debating in classes about various subjects. Ironically, we mentioned Lampedusa and a piece of art present on the island to mourn the migrants dead at sea: Porta di Europa.
Who knew 5 years later I’d actually be there and reflect on these hours I willfully wasted, just out of pride because I didn’t get the language I wanted?
Anyway, one learns and I saw myself grow during these little ten days. I expected nothing, arrived without any preparations, and I came back with so much more.
It isn’t really clear to me how I can explain this experience yet, but damn, getting out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in difficult situations can be so rewarding at times!
I won’t lie, it was hard and frustrating at times. Trying to express something and feeling like a 5 year-old because I couldn’t be understood was harsh. It felt like being in Japan again and starting from scratch. But the people surrounding me were patient, kind and understanding. They took the time to listen. I know I was a bit more of work then others; some things we had to do for the day had to explained to me again, because I just couldn’t understand the Sicilian dialect at first. It just sounded like marmelade to my ears. They first explained, and then day by day things got easier.
I got confident and in the end, I could argue with tourists who found that unbelievable that their right to put rocks all over the beach was denied and that sadly, the money they spent didn’t grant them the possibility to be a bitch about it. I got asked if I was Spanish way too many times, and mixed two words by mistake during my stay. Now I know that I should rather yell “pazzo” than “cazzo” to dangerous cars in the street, because really, yelling “penis” in the street isn’t the way to go.
It was with a way heavier heart than I expected that I walked to the airport (the island is that small) and waved goodbye to everyone. I wish I had write about everyday to remember every little details that made me smile, that made me cheer and be a bit sad too. But I think sometimes you have to let it go and live the moment. Be ready to have very little sleep and still work the day after. Live everyday at more than 100% and be ready to have plans change. Even better, don’t make plans. Just take what’s coming and build along.
I escaped for a while on this tiny island in the Mediterranean sea. The reputation it has isn’t bright in Europe and it is true that it can have a poor image once there. But damn, this experience offered so much and it felt so good. All I hope is that I could be of help and that I brought as much as I got in return.
Before heading home, I spent eleven hours in Rome’s airport at night(you can be sure there is no international connection with Lampedusa) and when I finally came back to Lyon, I was ready to welcome an American friend. We ended up in Paris, walking 20km per day before I drove to the Alps where I continued this crazy rhythm for a week. And tomorrow I’m going home again. Nothing planned for the next few days.
Working on a timelapse I shot in the Alps for sure. I am still planning to wake up at 3 a.m. tomorrow to take some pictures of the stars, the previous attempts being failed. It’s hard to find the motivation to wake up at 3 to then drive 30mn to an altitude of 2000 meters, where the wind is blasting and the temperature as low as 3 degrees celcius. But the result is fun, and it’s the same thing as hiking. God I hate going up but once you’re up there and you see the view, you appreciate it a thousand times more. And it feels good.
During my time in the Netherlands, I have often complained about the lack of hills or any type of non-flat landscapes. Along with that, the cold and the rain was a constant downer to do any type of cool outdoor activity. I did go for long rides, trying to pick the days where it was the least windy, but it was never really satisfying.
Over these two years of living there, I built in my head the image of an active person, that likes hiking and enjoys going out of the house to do stuff. Going back home with a perfect warm weather and amazing sceneries not far out, it was time to put to test this image I spent two years creating.
I took the car and drove to a nearby mountain range I’ve never been before. The good thing about Lyon is that you have the choice; you have the Alps or some other mountainous chains more in the center of the country. I chose the latter, may it just be so I didn’t have to pay the toll on the road. After driving through some big cities, I took the way to the “Natural Regional Park” of the Pilat. Out of Saint Etienne, in 5mn, the city is out of sight and what is left is just forest, lands and cute houses in the middle of all that.
Some parts of the road can be quite narrow and it’s especially true when going through villages that are literally hanging off a cliff. Sometimes, the path is large enough for only one car but you still have to share it with eventual newcomers and it was an interesting challenge for me to drive there. I often stopped on the side to take pictures of the landscape as the blue sky, clouds and yellow fields just fitted perfectly together. I can get that these snaps can seem boring but after 2 years of dead-flat land and wind, I love it.
After 2 hours of driving and a constant elevation in the mountains (reaching 1200m altitude), I parked my car at some old inn. And I started hiking.
Mind you, there were a few details that I forgot while building this image of super active woman for two years. Hiking often involves going up, in sometimes really steep ways. Going down is all fine with me and staying at the same level’s perfect. But going up, damn, do I hate that. And this is the way my hike started. As I went up, I noticed some other parkings that were higher up where I could have put my car and avoid the uninteresting climb. But nope, I had parked the car all the way down. Too bad. I also forgot my earphones and was alone with my thoughts and my panting breath.
This is another thing that bothers me about going up.
Being out of breath really quickly. I don’t smoke, nor am I overweight, and yet I struggle like hell when it’s about breathing normally and climbing up stuff. Maybe it’s the asthma I’m carrying with me, or just the fact that I don’t climb that often. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking that maybe I’m not this super active person I thought I was for two years. Maybe I don’t really like hiking uh? Because this steep climb here, really sucks.
As I was having an inside turmoil, I finally reached some flat ground and went on my way to join the first pass. Today’s plan was to visit all the passes of Mont Pilat, consisting of a rough walk of 10km. Surprisingly, the following climb was starting to be okay. I don’t know if it’s the fact that the path was covered with big rocks and forced me to jump from boulder to boulder (which I love doing. It’s incredibly easy to break your ankle here, but damn, it’s fun) but things got easier. At the top of the first pass, at an altitude of 1430m, I sat and took some time to look around. Two people were paragliding and were flirting with the ground before going back up with the wind currents. It was so quiet and they came so close that you could hear the wind going through the fabric of their big parachutes.
I didn’t get their view but it felt like sharing a bit of their bliss in these mountains.
I decided to continue my hike and walked on the mountain crests to join the difference passes. I met a few people on the way, such as the same four ladies that I ran into 3 or 4 times during the afternoon. I was dreading a bit such an afternoon without any music or beat to keep me going. I’m listening to music pretty much all the time and it is helping when doing physical activities. I don’t think I could have climbed Mount Fuji without music, or my mind would have been clouded by thoughts about how harsh it was to climb thousand of meters in the pitch darkness at 10°c. But the music helped and allowed me to focus on the effort rather than the “why am I doing this to myself” factor.
But overall, everything went fine. As I walked, the hike got somehow easier. I think it’s all about getting the machine started. Once it’s started, it’s good to go.
After some mountainous passes, I went through a forestry area to join the big radio antenna area. On this mountain, there are a few buildings used for the main French radio and it is so big that we can see it through Lyon. We see this big mountain with the antenna on top, and it was time to go check it out.
Some paths through the forest reminded me of the Japanese forests, without ever surpassing their mysteries. Forests in Japan have a spirit of their own and I can understand that people with amazing imagination such as Miyazaki can feel nothing but wonder for them.
The rest of the hike was smooth and as I got to the antenna, I started heading back to the inn. Time was running out and I didn’t want to be caught in traffic once back on the road.
On the way back, there was some stele headstone for an American plane crashing there during WW2, along with an American/German/French flags to celebrate peace and cooperation.
Back at the car, I grabbed some fresh water from a nearby source and took a last look at what was around.
Yeah, I’m definitely not the superhero I wanted myself to be, nor the amazing hiker I boasted about for 24 months. But you know, I think it’s about taking time and doing things one step at a time. Nothing’s preventing me to a one day be this great person that can hike for 10 hours in the mountains on a whim. For now, I do these small steps and at least get a bit closer to doing things that I like.
Having this afternoon for myself, confronted to a difficult climb but beautiful views, felt good. And let’s not talk about the drive back through the natural park. No matter where you looked, the golden sun was embracing the yellow fields and the atmosphere was just magical. I felt a bit sad not being able to take pictures of everything but sometimes you gotta decide if you wanna go home in one piece or stop every 5 seconds on a narrow road with cars around.
I chose safety and did my best to get a firm mental grasp of the experience.
Driving at 10pm with the windows open and an amazing 23°c degree, with some nice songs, blissfully. The sky was still coloured by the setting sun.
I could smell the earth of the nearby fields I crossed, 30km from the city.
It just felt so good. I felt so alive.
I just want to keep driving in these unknown places, my hand out of the window embracing the wind.
Start my day by bringing my mom to work and then driving the car to the garage for reparation (the famous driver-less car that collided with the car). I’m getting the keys of an old car for replacement, the time they fix our car. The old car is almost a wreck with no gas in it. I drive it back home, hoping it won’t fall off and that the wheel won’t remain stuck in my hands while driving.
I call my working agency and get some work for the end of the week. Amazing.
I bike on the elliptical for a good 40mn, prepare lunch and get ready to leave in the afternoon, by bike again.
Wearing a skirt, hair down, sunglasses on while biking in Lyon in early July is just a treat. I don’t have to worry about rain, wind or cold. It is just a marvelous 25 degrees celcius and a gentle wind accompanies the trip. I swear, with my earphones, I literally feel like the trip to the city center is some French movie shit. I love it. I meet up with a friend and we walk around. We climb one of Lyon’s hill and we admire the view. Going down, we stop for an ice cream and again, it just feels marvelous. The atmosphere is good.
I walk her back to her bus station and continue walking around. I was supposed to meet up with someone later in the day for coffee but that didn’t happen. Instead I got coffee on my own and enjoyed the company of a busy street. A mix of hipsters, bikes, working families walking on the pavement while I sit there grabbing parts of conversations.
Maybe that’s what I should do. Find a place to sit outside and sip on some iced coffee to pass the time rather than staying home miserably when I’m not working. It’s a pricey hobbit, almost 4.5€ for an iced coffee (being cool is expensive apparently). But it’s a nice feeling.
I stay until 7, having nothing to rush for. I ride my bike back home, falling into this soundtrack-life for 20mn. Get home, prepare a salad that my dad won’t adore but I like the crunchiness of red peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. The end of the day is in contrast quite boring. I’m killing time browsing the internet, looking at the time. If I go to bed to early (and if I want to respect my 8-hour sleeping schedule), I’ll have to wake up at 6 and there is nothing to do at 6 in the morning. I know it sounds like a boring routine but having some structure is not all bad, and I can be more efficient in stuff that I do (or let’s say I can have more energy to complain about not having enough to do!).
That was today.