I found something back. Diluted memories, evoking a different time, a younger me. I like such moments, it’s a strange time-travel experience, going back in my mind to a moment when I was wondering what would happen in the future. Now I am living in this future I imagined, even beyond it. Isn’t time a wonderfully peculiar thing?
The following is a short piece of writing from two years ago, 19 October 2016, when I was doing volunteer work in Istanbul and looking forward towards going to Lebanon for the two months after, with another humanitarian organisation, ‘Relief and Reconciliation for Syria’. I didn’t know what to expect and I was excited and nervous at the same time. I was trying to look for the place where I would be staying, in a small village in the north of Lebanon, close to the Syrian borders. This is what I wrote.
“When I search on Google Maps to find the place in Lebanon where I will be living for the coming two months, the map gives me the ‘Unnamed Road’.
This is what the future looks like: it is an unnamed road, we do not know exactly what it is called or what it looks like or where it will lead to. But we know there is a road. All I can do now is trust that it will is the right road, taking in the sights around it, looking ahead to anticipate what’s coming, sometimes throwing a glance back to remember what I left behind and what it looks like now from this new perspective.
I will remind myself to notice my feet moving step by step, to feel the cold fresh air filling my lungs and the white breath flowing out. To look out for little flowers between the beds of dewy grass. To examine the earth, seeing small insects crawl between the plants. Ants walking in a line on the path, encircling a piece of fruit that one of us dropped, preparing it to be carried away to their homes.”
That is where I stopped writing. I’m not sure what else I had in mind that I wanted to say. I think that I felt the need to go outside, and that is where my writing was taking me. From the wondering of ‘where will I live’ to ‘what will I do’ and ‘how will I live’, with attention for the small details, for the never-ending story of nature, which will continue long after our human wondering and worrying is gone. That’s a nice and strange thing to remember: comforting, but also making life seem futile. What are we really here for?
Our high-minded human imaginings of ego, identity and future… The desire to know and control what will happen, what to expect, how to react, how to influence the course of life.
And then again and again, little footsteps in the sand. Becoming aware of the present, suddenly, like waking up from a hurried dream. I am here. Everything else is imagination, fantasies of an intellectual animal that creates parallel universes in the mind. I thank my mind for helping me make plans, for processing information, for the beauty of language.
And I thank my body, my breathing, my heartbeat for being there always, a constant pulsing of life-vibrations. I don’t have to do anything to keep it going, it just happens. Wherever I my footsteps take me, to whatever plans my mind comes up with.
By the unnamed road in Lebanon I found olive trees, a dog named Filfil (pepper in Arabic) that I would take for walks along the fields and hills, looking out towards the sea and the Syrian side of the border, from high viewpoints. I found people there, living in tents and self-made houses, children playing and learning how to write. I was also learning, taking in so many details each day. Hopefully I can write more about these experiences another time.
For now I just remember where the unnamed road is taking me.
Do you know where you are?