short stories

~ Moving Forth ~

~ Moving Forth ~

A dreadful silence filled the room. The surrounding walls looked at me with suffocating stares. I lay flat and still on my bed as the weight of the entire world pulled me down into the mattress. The dream had abruptly ended and I was back in my old bedroom, living at home with my parents after travelling around the world for one and a half years. From Brazil to New Zealand, the grand adventures had come and gone – all those soul-stirring experiences lost in the mist of mind and memory, and now I was back to where I grew up: penniless, alone and depressed, with no one close by who truly understood or cared how I felt. 

     On top of this I had returned back to my old job in the local supermarket. It was not something I had planned to do, but having been reckless enough to come home with no money and a considerable amount of debt, I immediately returned to a place I could walk into work straight away. This created some sort of time warp in my brain, as if the last one and a half years had all been nothing but some sort of surreal dream. As I walked down those aisles and stacked those shelves, I felt my heart being crushed slowly and surely by the old familiarity of it all. It really was true that absolutely nothing had changed. The same customers came in at the same times; the same scripted conversations were endured; the same items were stacked in the same places. As I worked, I stared emptily into space and let my mind wander. How could so much have changed within me but everything here remain exactly the same? How could I live this other lifetime while people had stayed set in the same mode of existence? How could I go around the world and now feel so lost in my hometown?

     Inevitably, I felt as if everything I had done was for nothing; I felt that all the life I had gained had been stolen off me. A total pointless waste of time. What a foolish dreamer I was, thinking that my big, post-graduation journey actually meant something. It all suddenly felt meaningless. And not just for me, but those close to me. Besides the obligatory ‘how was it?’ question, no one really had an interest in what I had done. 

“So I guess it’s time you joined ‘the real world’ now hey”

“Welcome back to reality”

“Time to get a proper job”

    These were the comments people shared with me about my trip. Misunderstood and alienated, my heart soon raged against everything around me. Reverse culture shock set in and I began to feel more foreign than I had while on my trip. This just about peaked on a bank holiday Sunday evening where I stood in a pub listening to everyone talk about jobs, football and television shows. Suddenly, standing in silence at the bar, I was mocked for wearing casual clothing and working in a supermarket. It was right then that I became a stranger in my own town. This was supposed to be home, but now it was clear the bohemian madness had finally claimed me: I now had no home. I was an exiled alien, lost somewhere in the great cosmic ocean of existence, devoid of a place of any real belonging.

      As I experienced this conflicting state of affairs, I thought of my companions I had shared my adventure with. Where were they now? And what were they doing? Were they also back home, beset by the same doom and gloom as me? I racked my brain and remembered the moments of getting drunk on Copacabana beach on New Year’s eve with Ana. I remembered partying on a balcony overlooking a beautiful lake in New Zealand with my twenty housemates. Hiking to Machu Picchu with new friends. Climbing mountains in Bolivia. Cycling around wineries in Argentina. Yes, yes! All of those things! All those beautiful things swept away by the merciless waves of transience which eventually enveloped us all. The tides had turned, the fleeting friendships over and I now stood alone in what might as well have been another world altogether. Thinking about it all, I felt a strange feeling in my stomach. It was going to be a tough time, I knew.

     The weeks and months continued to go by in tremendous solitude. I soon avoided going out as I couldn’t face the others. Consequently, those bedroom walls gradually suffocated me more and more. It wasn’t long until felt like a prisoner of some sort. In times of desperation, I let society’s influence set in; I went online and applied for those career jobs I wasn’t interested in. This was the script I had told myself – that this big solo travel trip around the world after graduating from university was my final blowout before retreating back to the farm of normality to begin a steady career. It wasn’t until I went to an interview that I realised my delusion. As I sat there lying and pretending to be someone I wasn’t, I felt tremendous inner conflict burn inside my blood. Within me a great fire roared and raged against it all. I quickly began to realise I was facing the music – that I was finally acknowledging that I wasn’t going to walk the straight path society wanted me to. I had been avoiding it for a long time it had seemed. From an early age I knew in my gut that I didn’t belong to the world of careers and contracts – to sensibility and suburban sanity. I had suppressed the fact that I was incompatible with that world for many years and now it was time to accept that things in life weren’t going to be so straightforward for me. Acknowledging this, a personal crisis ensued. The dark clouds gathered inside my head and the rain poured down.

     In the midst of this storm, I found myself visiting the nearby farm fields in the countryside daily. I guess it acted as a little bit of an escape from society. The allure of nature occasionally allowed some of the pain to momentarily reside, as if there was some whispering voice of wisdom in the wind and in the streams, trying to tell me something that would alleviate me from my suffering. Although it helped at times, it wasn’t enough to stop the storm inside my head. As the weeks and months went by, the thunderous noise increased intune with my own despair and desolation. I gradually began to realise that these feelings were nothing new. It was true that I had felt out of place all of my life at home. From a young age I knew deep down something inside of me was vastly different from the rest. Perhaps that was the source of past bouts of anxiety and depression, I wondered. I had always known I didn’t fit into the world I grew up in, and it seemed I had subconsciously blocked out this fact to spare myself the pain of facing my isolation as the black sheep I undoubtedly was. But finally, at the age of twenty-four, the realisation had caught up with me: I was an abnormal outcast, a wretch not belonging to my place of birth, someone not destined to have regular life.

    Eventually one day I was walking in those fields and the weight of it all became too much. I couldn’t go on the way I was any longer. I stopped and stood alone in the middle of a field. I then looked up to the sky with tears of pain and rage, before collapsing down onto the ground. For a long time I just lay there motionless in the grass, feeling the wind whip against my skin and the pain and madness howl in my mind. I felt myself sinking down deep into the earth beneath me, swallowed up whole by this world. It was true: I had been broken – the lowest I had ever sunk in my life. I was a destroyed man, shackled down by my demons, lying helpless and alone in the torture chamber, feeling myself disappearing into a state of non-existence.   

     Then something strange happened.

     Somewhere deep inside of me, something changed. Something was destroyed. I’m not sure what it was exactly, but at my lowest point I felt it implode on itself and dissipate into nothingness. In the wake of this, I then started to feel the pain gradually start to reside. I sat up and breathed in, wondering what the hell had just happened. Perhaps it was the abrupt death of a demon within me that had been causing me all this pain. Perhaps it was a lock to something which had finally split under the weight of all the pressure. Whatever it was, I felt its sudden disappearance within me, followed by a feeling that was like coming up to surface for a life-saving gasp of air. It was then that I realised a critical point had been reached – a peak of pain overcome. Feeling some strength start to return, I picked myself up from the ground. I then limped on home, knowing something had changed inside of me forever.     

     In the months and years that followed that troubled time, I have still been limping on home. I wasn’t completely cured from my problems altogether. Something like that which brought you to the edge of destruction doesn’t just fade totally. But it was a moment that was pivotal for me – perhaps the most pivotal in my entire life. In that field that day was the moment I finally let go of a whole lifetime of suppressing my true self and faced the fact of who I really was. In that field that day I allowed a persona I had been burdened with by my surrounding society to be killed. I gave up the egoic state of caring what other people thought of me and to listening to the dogma about who I should be in this life. Since then I have gained mental clarity and been able to overcome my inner conflicts and struggles; I have been able to summon the courage to become the person I was born to be, and not the one society tried to mould me into. With a new profound faith in my own inner being, I have continued my adventures all over the world, I have summited the mountains, I have trekked the countries, I have wrote the books – I have accepted and come to the terms of the fact that I am a born outsider. With myself adjusted to this new state of being, I have found my true calling and followed it fiercely with all my heart and might and passion. The tides have turned once again, and I now stare into those morning mirrors, proud to see my genuine and authentic self gazing on back at me, ready for whatever’s next upon the great journey of life.

     It is true that sometimes in this life an individual suffers tremendously with coming to terms with who they really are. Human society and the cultures we exist in are enough to send any man or woman into isolated states of depression and desolation. With everyone around you trying to mould and shape you from a young age, it’s easy to get confused and lose yourself in the madness of it all. It truly is a fight to be yourself in this world, especially if you are driven by a deep inner desire that leads you away from the safe herd. But the essence and authenticity of yourself is a fight worth winning and no good warrior ever won a great battle without having to go through some struggles and pain. On the quest to the shores of your destiny you will undoubtedly face isolation. You will face discomfort and doubt. You will face the situation of being painfully misunderstood by those around you. But please, if you feel that fire within you then have a little faith in your inner voice, don’t keel over to something which insults your soul, and don’t give up on yourself just because sometimes you may have to walk alone through haunted places. Stand up tall and dive down into the depths of yourself. Walk wide-eyed into the darkness and meet your demons face to face. Fearlessly explore every ounce of your own inner being. After a certain amount of time, you will emerge with eyes full of fire and go forth back out into the world as a warrior of the wild. And from that position on you will be stronger and more resilient than ever before. Your eyes will blaze with brightness. Your heart will ache with passion. Your gut will rumble with thunder. With a ferocious tenacity for life, you will live the life that sets your soul on fire – the life that your very heart screams out for. The path of your life will be thrilling and magical, and when you reach the end of your road, you will have no regrets about the life you lived. You will have a victory of personal authenticity. You will have a victory of individual courage. As you become the person you were born to be, you will have the greatest victory of all:

you will have the victory of yourself.

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thoughts

~ A Sunset Moment ~

~ A Sunset Moment ~

“At the end of the day I stood looking out at the ocean, watching that ball of fire burn brilliantly as it always did. As its light flowed through my veins, I thought about the trivial things in the world that continually consumed us all. I thought of stress – of anxiety – of worry. I thought of the busy people rushing past me, looking down at their phones while completely missing the sunset. Here we all were: little creatures living in an infinite universe, and yet always we would choose to instead exist within tiny bubbles of thought. We’d worry about the future; we’d worry about the past. We’d worry about what other people were thinking and what they weren’t thinking. We’d worry about worrying too much about worrying too much. In a moment of realisation, I let go of it all. Yes, maybe I didn’t have a plan, or much money, or a way back home – but with my one-way ticket and a trust in the unknown – everything was going to work out. “Hurl yourself into the abyss and discover it’s a feather-bed” one of my favourite philosophers had said. As I watched the sun finally set upon the water, I knew I was going to do exactly that.”

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thoughts

~ An Inner Strength ~

~ An Inner Strength ~

“I am not the most stable person. I have few practical or pragmatic skills. I often lose or break anything that I have to take care of. I am also not good with organisation or common sense. In this mechanical world, I struggle greatly to fit into anything. Life can be hard, but I have some things that help me survive. I don’t know how to ‘play the game’, but I do know how to pour every last drop of my soul into what I care about. I don’t know how to fit in well with the crowd, but I know how to stand up for myself and stay strong in my own company. My mind is stained with madness and I don’t expect to be understood in this life or the next, but I have learnt how to be fine with that too. As long as this madness still shines, then I know that I’ll survive. As long as this fire inside still burns my gut, then I know I’ll walk through life with a private joy which will never be extinguished.”

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thoughts

~ A Separate Space ~

~ A Separate Space ~

“You may look for me in the everyday places but you will not find me there. The offices. The streets. The suburbs. The supermarkets. Yes, it’s true that I may sometimes be there in body, but please know that my soul and spirit are somewhere far away over the hills. If you are looking for the real me then come find me out in foreign fields of discovery, chasing my bliss and staring into sunset skies with a mind on fire. Find me lost in the woods of madness, tumbling down rabbit-holes and talking to the fairies. Find me out on the plains of the wild, running toward the horizon with wide eyes and an open heart. I am sorry but I just don’t know how to stay grounded in those concrete realities; I don’t know how to keep my mind locked in world of sensibility and stability. To me they are barren and desolate lands which only suffocate and starve my soul. So if you’re looking for the real me then come out beyond the fence and find me. There I’ll be on the other side of sanity, playing in the grass of eternity, swimming amongst the stars of infinity – happily lost in my own wonderland until the end of my days.”

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short stories

~ The Crazy Ones ~

~ The Crazy Ones ~

“His eyes were wild and his spirit uncombed. He had an alien presence that captivated everybody in the room. As we sat round the hostel bar table drinking beers, he flung his arms around like a maniac and told tales of his adventures. He must have been nearing fifty years-old but still possessed the dazzled and bewitched gaze of an infant discovering the surrounding world for the first time. At every moment he seemed painfully excited to be alive. He chugged his beer and spoke of hitchhiking around America while sleeping on the side of roads; he spoke of fighting off a couple of Venezuelan robbers with a knife; he spoke of helping to build an orphanage somewhere in Mongolia with a group of eagle hunters.

As he regaled us with his tales, I looked around at the younger faces around the table. Some looked intimidated and others looked utterly transfixed. No doubt the younger ones of the group had not encountered a creature of this kind before. Personally I had met a few people like this before out here on the road. I recognised a little bit of myself in him and enjoyed sipping my beer to his stories, although I could never imagine venturing as far down the rabbit-hole as he had done. It was true that I liked to have chaotic adventures – but fighting off some guys with a knife in a country known for drug gangs, gun crime and bloody murders was maybe a little too bohemian for me.

The tales of worldwide chaos and anarchy went on until eventually everyone’s beers had run dry. Looking down at the foamy mass at the bottle of the glass, he got up and headed back to the bar while offering to get a round in for everyone at the table. As soon as he left the table the gossip began. “Well, he’s a bit ‘out there’ isn’t he?” said one girl. “Yeah, is anyone else slightly afraid?” said the guy beside me. “How is someone like that still alive? How old even is he?” wondered another. As they carried on talking I couldn’t help but sit back and smile. I knew that although they were slightly intimidated, they were also secretly fascinated by such a ferocious free-spirit. The look in their eyes had a sort of marvel – an amazement that a man his age could still be living such an adventurous life. With this in mind, they chatted away about him with a sort of curious interest. This is how it was – this is how it always was with these types of people.

Always the crazy ones were discussed with hidden interest. Some were mocked outright, and others were affectionately referred to with lines like “she’s a bit different” or “he’s a bit out there”. Whatever the case, it seemed most people had a subconscious fascination for the alternative mind. People would stand back and observe them as if they were a rare species – some kind of exotic bird with pink feathers. Mostly they fascinated me because they were the creatures who had jumped the fences of normality; they were the ones who hadn’t subscribed to the current version of sanity which helped us all enjoy small-talk down the pub. To me that was a liberating quality I couldn’t help but envy. Without being shepherded on the farm of conventional thought, you were free to invent yourself and be whatever you wanted to be. And what was more desirable than that? In a world that said the winners were the rich people, or the famous people, or the good-looking people, to me it was the crazy ones – the people living life on their own terms – who were life’s greatest success stories.”

(taken from my book ‘The Thoughts From The Wild’ available here)