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Published: December 1st 2014
I have been talking about going travelling for too long. In many ways I have talked about it more than I have thought about it, which is not a measure of how little thinking has happened but how many times the topic has come up with others. That's unsurprising, of course, because it is something big that is happening. Not everyone goes on year-long journeys across continents and to be the one doing it will naturally evoke curiosity or interest from those that aren't. Talking about it has often entailed the same questions of where, when, and how. Again these are unsurprising. From the perspective of the person asking, whether out of courtesy or genuine interest, this is by and large fresh information for the sakes of discussion; from my perspective, however, it is the repetition of the same information that begins to solidify and become weighty.
E has talked of a long goodbye - a too long goodbye in which the repetition of our plans has uncovered some of the ugly machinations behind the formation of identity. By saying the same thing the floor beneath who we are/what we do has begun to collapse. A subplot in the film I
Since these plans have been announced publicly I have done my best to counter this by not thinking of going away as a thing in itself. This is not a holiday or a vacation or an adventure or even a trip. It is my life proceeding from minute to minute, day to day, in the manner that it would were I still in Norwich – except that I am not in Norwich. This helps alleviate the growing internal density that “going away” has taken on. That E and I have not made many definite plans for the next year has helped combat the drudgery that repeating a schedule multiple times would encounter. Together they have helped me undermine any established notions about what will happen upon leaving the UK and so, hopefully, open up my awareness and field of vision to the opportunities that will avail themselves in the present, whatever and wherever that may be. I am going to India and Nepal, to the US and Mexico, to Central and South America, yes; but I can't define it more than that and I am glad. Repeating that meagre amount of information has already done enough to narrow the trip. If I knew and therefore repeated any more details then I too might start vomiting.
When I was on an isolated retreat last week I read a lot. Two of those books were “The Failure of Non-Violence” by Peter Gelderloos and “Desert” by an anonymous author. A key topic covered in both books, and a crucial aspect of contemporary anarchist thought, is the concept of space. Inspired, I think, by feminist and indigenous ethics, both argue in their own ways for an outlook grounded in the politics of space – as opposed to economics, which is the central issue pursued by classical Western anarchism and much of Communism. The space for people to explore to their fullest extent themselves, each other, and the connections between the two that we call community.
Internal space is just as important. How can we really understand ourselves if we haven't got room to manoeuvre our self-reflections? Meditation is one active tool that can be used in opening up these gaps but focusing on the present in our speech rather than the future is an important passive tool to support this as well. Each repetition of an idea or thought whether externally or internally places another brick in the wall that delimits the space we have for reflection and experience. To some extent this is fine in so far as it is almost impossible to do something without thinking or talking about it but the danger is ever present that it stops simply being an account of what might happen and simply becomes a way to define and thus limit yourself. How many times can I talk about my plans for the next year before they begin to diminish and and dull my experiences?
I will be glad to fly on Saturday. At that point the talking about what might be stops and actuality of what might be begins.
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