The climb

Last week, we went climbing. We packed the cars, drove across Europe, and hung our hammocks in a forest full of rocks.

We ate a lot of croissants, drunk a lot of wine. We tried to climb. And failed, repeatedly.

It’s really hard to climb outside. Razor-thin hard, arms-and-legs-shaking hard. Afraid-of-falling-and-crushing-my-skull hard.

There was a lot of fear in the air for me, last week.

But maybe because this fear was so unfamiliar, was physical instead of intellectual, it was strangely refreshing to feel. I didn’t feel pressure, I didn’t fear failure the way I do in my daily life. I feared a life-threatening fall, knowing full well it wasn’t reasonable to think that – I stayed too close to the ground for that. But I was afraid of it nonetheless.

And I dealt with it, sort of. I stared at it, saw right through it, and tried climbing a little higher. And with every step I took, every move I made, I learned a little more about myself.

The climb

In between

Transitions don’t get a lot of love from us. Moments going from one place to another, blurred days spent looking for a home, a job, a goal.

Transitions don’t make for great stories, we think; they’re too grey, too uncertain. We prefer completion, victories, conclusions. Looking back at what was done, and what is now secured.

But a lot of life happens in between. In between places, in between phases. A lot of life is spent working towards, planning for, looking forward.

I’ve spent a lot of time in between lately. Between two homes – slowly moving from one life to another. And I’ve hated the transition. Complained profusely, cried frequently. Exhausted myself in trains, in cars, on bikes, running from one place to another, my bag always ready, my mind never at peace.

And yet. That transition saw me grow like never before. I’ve learned – and learned to like it. With every transition comes an infinite range of possibilities, of discoveries, of new beginnings. And how often can you say that of your daily life? How often is the world truly your oyster?

So I’ve learned to like the blurred lines. I’ve learned to read them, cross them and move forward.

In between

La vie #2

“J’espère que la vie est belle pour toi.”

I hope life is beautiful for you.

It’s that note from an old friend, dropped at the end of an email, that got me thinking. The kindness of these words, and the hope they contain. Coming from someone who’s lived more, who’s been through more, to wish me a life that is “beautiful” – not just safe, comfortable or satisfying, is meaningful.

I read it and paused – is life beautiful for me? Is life more than an addition of moments, some great, some less so? Because it feels like that at times. Times where the daily grind takes over.

Still, there is beauty within days like these. The mountain lighting up at dawn. The sound of bike tires against the crispy, frozen path. The laughter, the stories, the excitation of a work day. The walks along the canal, hanging onto your arm. The long stares out of the train’s window. The stories told, cuddled on the sofa while the dog watches us.

Small moments like these, when you blink and take the time to notice. Life is beautiful.

And greater moments, too. Or rather – a greater everything. A sense of progression, of growth, of becoming. A sense that life, despite its difficulties, is going in a good direction.

I wonder, of course, if that’s true. There are many things in my daily routine that are unappealing. Meetings, emails, emails, emails; a car, a mortgage, and no book written yet. Not every day passes in a delightful bliss. I don’t live in a van, I don’t grow my own food. I have a schedule, I have an office and I look at my phone.

Within that frame though, within these rules, life is beautiful. Maybe because I am at peace with it, because it’s been my choice, to some extent. Maybe because I have my own ways of bending the rules, of owning the system. Or because I’ve started to accept the reality of my human condition, our condition, our limits – and our undefined, infinite potential.

La vie #2

La vie

There is that moment in Gad Elmaleh’s latest show. “Life is hard, and at the end you die.”

How these words resonate – what they mean to me, in this moment, is hard to describe. But they hit deep. The joke, and the reality of it.

Life is hard. It really is. It’s also extremely beautiful, extremely joyful. But it’s hard. And like all lucky kids born in a peaceful country, in a peaceful family, I am only realising this little by little.

It’s all of it – the pain, the suffering, the small disappointments and the heart-breaking losses.

It’s the daily battles, the struggle to keep going, to keep working, to keep performing. It’s the big questions, the whys, the wheres, the whos.

It’s the realisation that there is no other time than now. The rare reminders are not so rare anymore – the shit has hit the fan. But the shit is in equal parts good and bad. Would I appreciate the good without the bad? I think I did, in smoother times. But with the bad, I’ve also gained perspective, and I’ve become grateful for that.

Is ignorant bliss real happiness anyway? Not that you get to choose your circumstances. But I’d be happy, deeply happy, with resisting the test of life and triumphing with laughter, wisdom – and some French sarcasm. Because yes, this life I adore, this life I devour, is hard. And at the end you die.

La vie

Thousand days

Next week, it will be three years since I’ve moved here.

Next month, it will be two years since I’ve met you.

For all of the struggles, all of the battles, it’s the peace of having found my place, our place, that I feel most of all.

You never know when you will find it, this place, this feeling. I had no idea this would be it. Step by step, elements fitting in together, a sense of belonging slowly developing.

The snow, the rain, the mountains – unsettling at first, slowly becoming familiar features. Exotic moments turned rituals, rough words finally understood.

It’s taken a while to get there, to feel that way. Every winter ride, every summer night – they’ve helped build it. And maybe it’s this time that gives it its certainty, maybe it’s the time spent exploring, spent searching, that makes home, home.

When you had no idea where you would land, no idea what would be next, but the days dug roots for you anyway.

It’s taken a while. In fact, it’s taken three years. Thousand days.

Thousand days