Two years ago today I landed in Porto back from my 50 day trip across United States. It was also the first day of a new period in my life, the one I'm still living nowadays.
I guess that everyone's lives are made of landmarks and milestones. We all have different goals and we all follow some kind of path to accomplish them. My roadtrip in the USA is both a landmark and a milestone. These words have very similar meanings and might even be synonyms. I'm no linguist though, so I'm gonna use them at my complete discretion.
My trip was a landmark because out of all the events in my life, past, present or future, it will always stand graciously and resplendent, like a beautiful monument, an ode to my own existence. It's something that will remain, will always be there to be admired and looked at. But that trip became also a milestone in my life as it represents a shift in direction. I don't mean shifting in a physical or material way, I'm talking about something transcendent, spiritual.
According to this line of thought life has to be perceived as a journey, a road to enlightment and built on constant discovery. While driving across such a vast and beautiful country like the USA, I had the perfect opportunity to discover me in me. I didn't realize that up until recently. I guess you can imagine how overwhelmed I was in that time and how there was so much to process. But I can see now that all those thoughts and emotions that have been secretely maturing inside me in the previous years found the perfect meadow to flourish and become undestroyable pillars in my ethos.
Such trip allowed me to finally embrace and wear as mine the thoughts of authors like Kerouac, Thoreau or Camus. I had read them before but I wasn't ready to fully understand them. I was drawn to them, to their ideals and lifestyle, but there was some pieces of the puzzle missing. I found all those pieces there. There's no greater joy in life than to live your dreams and the life you've always imagined for yourself.
Although I think it's not visible on the surface, I returned from the USA inexorably transformed. I feel that no longer I will be able to conform to society or adhere to the ideas of others about my own life. I feel like nothing or no one will ever determine me besides my own conscience. I also realize that my physical existence means less and less when compared with the spiritual existence. But I also realized that it's a one way road and there's no turning back.
Once you go past some things, you have to be prepared to stand alone in many aspects of life. If you want to exist in the society, side by side with its ordinarity, you have to be prepared for feeling misunderstood and accept that as some immutable fact.
We live in a world where everything seems possible, everything is available to everyone, at least in theory. We live in a world of comfort and excess. The technology is abundant and it seems like there are no limits. On the other hand, everyone seems somehow forced to be happy or look happy. However this constitutes an ironic paradox: the same society that tells you that everything is possible is the same one that prevents you from being "all you can be". I guess we can describe the present times according to this: "be all you can be as long as you conform with the norm, otherwise we'll kick your butt out of our group".
I had the opportunity to read a book recently that caused another turmoil in my brain, because I felt I was reading my own ideas, although explained in a much more erudite and philosophical way. At some point the author says that "every life is the struggle, the effort to be itself". He adds that the all the obstacles that we face in life are what uncover and stimulate our capacities, as opposed to a world where everything is easy and possible which will cause serious deformations in the human existence. These kind of thoughts go hand in hand with Thoreau's quote: "Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind".
In a world where people are numb with all the comfort around them, they also feel lost and empty. They search for some meaning for their somehow standard existence. But there's no meaning for our own existence other than to live fully and make our life all that we want it to be. There should be no resignation, no acquiescence but an unbearable desire for more. We have to elevate our life, to pursue higher goals, to live for a greater cause. We have to make the best of it. We have to fill it with all forms of culture, not with food or clothes or empty days.
Going back to my trip and to the point of this post, I guess that I'm in the period of affirming the invidivual project for my own life. I'm aware that it won't be easy to do so while trying to cohabit with today's society and (lost) values. But my life belongs to me and I'm going all in, almost recklessly. And if I happen to fall or stumble, I will do so gracefully and filled with dignity, because more and more I'm becoming indifferent to fear.
There's no shame in trying to live the life we think it's best for us. As Thoreau recommends, I'm going to live in the present, launch myself on every wave (literally) and find my eternity in each moment.
And "just" that will be enough.