What I didn’t realise when I started walking is that no matter where I go, there is a story to tell. Not just my story, for I am just a tiny drop, but something much bigger…
I have had some time to reflect on my journey over the last year: the places I have visited, the people I have met, the conversations I have had. Why did I set out on this journey in the first place? It is not just “the dream”. The travelling, experiencing of life, the thirst for the unknown, to always feel alive. This is what has been inside me for as long as I remember. That is nothing new. It was just…locked away, and when I took the first step, it was like unlocking the door to that dream. And for a while I was content and happy to just enjoy that feeling of freedom and the newness of everything.
But something has changed…and it started in Crete. I spent 3 months on that magical island, and now as I look back I feel like I hardly scratched the surface. So much remains to explore, but what I realise is that for me, Crete was more than just a beautiful island. It was about challenging my own preconceptions about the journey I am on, and the path I have chosen to travel. The walking is a part of it, but there is so much more.
In Crete, I was struck by the beauty of nature all around me, and by the warmth and generosity of strangers and the people I met. I made some amazing friends, and spent time with people who are doing incredible things. I talked like I have never talked before, and it was during these discussions that I was able to focus on what is going round and round my head, on all of the things that I want to say and yet have been unable to thus far.
But at the same time, every day I saw the destructive impact humans have had, and are continuing to have. That in itself is not something new. I have been walking through a world where the refuse of our life lines the roads, and invades the pure sanctity of the land. We throw away and ignore what is all around us because it is easier to do. But on my birthday, as I was walking through a beautiful gorge at 7am in the morning, I saw something which truly shocked me. The sun was just glinting in the sky, the birds were singing, and the reflection of the light made the greens of the plants shimmer and shine. Then, as I turned a corner on a path, I watched a man drive up in a van, open the back and dump all of the rubbish onto the ground. I stood there, not quite believing what I was seeing, and trying to work out what I should do. However, as I procrastinated, the man finished his “work” before driving off, waving to me as if he had just done the most natural thing in the world. I was so angry at myself for not confronting him, and I contemplated this as I walked over the next hour, trying to work out what I can do.
There are many different ways to combat this disease, and each one of us must choose whether they wish to be a part of it (and by doing nothing we are refusing to acknowledge what is before our eyes); or we can choose to do something.
And so this is what I have decided to do. I can no longer stay quiet, but must tell the story as I see it, how our way of life is destroying the very foundations it is built on. We are reaching a darkness, a pit where we either sink into oblivion, or rise again, united against the evil which has taken over.
Can we continue to live, oblivious to the destruction we are rendering on the planet? On ourselves?
Our world is rotten, our rules are chains, and the pyramid of our society grows higher with each passing day. It is built on foundations of the exploitation of the weak and the poor, a world ruled by money and greed and the destruction of the core of our planet. We are close to implosion, both humans, and the world we live in.
Henry Miller said it right in 1941:
The enemy of man is man himself, his pride, his prejudices, his stupidity, his arrogance. Each one individually must revolt against a way of life which is not his own. The revolt, to be effective, must be continuous and relentless. It is not enough to overthrow governments, masters, tyrants: one must overthrow one’s own preconceived ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust… A billion men seeking peace cannot be enslaved. We have enslaved ourselves, by our own petty, circumscribed view of life… Every man contributes his bit to keep the carnage going, even those who seem to be staying aloof. We are all involved, all participating, willy-nilly. The earth is our creation and we must accept the fruits of our creation. As long as we refuse to think in terms of world good, world order, world peace, we shall murder and betray one another… Nothing can bring about a new and better world but our own desire for it…
And so I have a choice: I can tell a story which focuses on me as the protagonist, as I have been doing; or I can open my eyes, and tell the whole tale of what I see, hear, and feel every day: a story of contradictions, of suffering and happiness, the good AND the bad. I can either stop at the edge of vision, or take a deep breath, and step towards the unknown. I do not mean that I will no longer tell stories of the incredible people I meet, the magic of history, cheese, history and delicious food – after all the name of the blog is not changing, and neither have I. I still love all of that. But I feel I also have an opportunity to say something else, and for my part to begin thinking about how I can make a difference, and a change.
It is fear that holds us back, fear of the truth that is all around us, fear of failure, and fear of what we must do to make a change. I feel this as well. It is not an easy choice, and it will not be a smooth, straight path. There will be obstacles, worries and endless questioning. But through adversity we grow, and through challenging ourselves to be better, we can make a change.
The question is simple: do you want to? I know what my answer is…