A glance at a calendar tells me I wrote Three Trips Around the Sun a year ago. It feels like a decade or lifetime but then time is relative for time-travelers, and this has been one very tumultuous year in my time-vortex.
I landed in Copenhagen a year ago and thought I wanted a home, a job, an everyday life. Four weeks later I desperately wanted to travel again, to run again, I was craving new horizons. The curse of the eternally restless is not easily shaken despite its inevitable perils. This unfiltered time-traveling life can hurt so much I long for a corner to press my head against, and cry.
There are days where the sights, sounds, culture and environment of a strange place are too overwhelming, and become too painful. Far too many sensory inputs register at once and the world starts to crash around me. Paranoia and anxiety take hold, and I find myself in a free fall towards that dark place inside me that I dread, a place of self-hate and apathy.
I find myself in the darkness with the one person that I run from, the one person I most dislike in the world and never want to be alone with: me. At that point, I am the worst version of myself I can imagine; the one that lives in the shadows. And there is no place to hide from it, no rescue party, no safe sanctuary.
Through all of this, despite my daemons having hounded for most of my life, light ends up trumping darkness. I always end up wanting to travel again, live a life where I am free to embrace emotional extremes nonetheless, letting new people, places and experiences into my world. The very fabric of my soul will not be calmed, it screams for this life. Because on rare days, there is actual magic.
Being a time-traveling gypsy in this scary and wonderful world means I am always looking, always testing directions, searching for a path, wandering to the end of the universe and back.
I have learnt in the hardest way possible, that rationale, the good intentions of others, and sometimes even much lauded common sense, simply don’t apply to my life. At the start of my journey in 2009, high on the feeling of seemingly being able to bend the whole world to my will, I was forced back to earth by a set of circumstances that left me crushed. So great were my illusions of grandeur, that I was blind to being manipulated by another, because I refused to listen to the wailing sirens of my instincts, convinced that there was no way they were right.
When the fantasy of my invincibility was shattered, I was left broken for many years afterwards, with only the darkest shadow of myself for company.
This however, burned a most important truth in my brain: That my instincts are my only compass.
I still suffer long periods of darkness far from home, unsure of my bearings, and my ability to do anything right. The entire first quarter of 2013 was plagued by long stretches of bad luck and bad decisions – or decisions that seemed ok but turned out to be really bad. I bought the wrong plane ticket to the wrong place. Then flew to the right place, and loved Guatemala but became very sick and depressed. A possible trip to work in Peru was cancelled. And months of work planning the creation of a follow-up movie to Una Pura Verdad went down the drain in March.
I can land in the brightest of places in the darkest of moods. Splash into the darkest of places and feel very uplifted. And in my life, these extremes can be just hours apart. It is sometimes horrible. And always horribly addictive.
But on some days everything in the universe aligns, life is amazing and occasionally it is pure unfiltered magic. I find myself in the right frame of mind with the right person, in the right place at the right time and we stumble into something wonderful. When it all comes together in these moments, I feel like everything is possible, that I am ok, that I can fly.
Magic means everything to me. I mostly find the world a very sad, dark and difficult place with far too much pain, misery and loneliness for me to handle. It is hard for me to feel comfortable in this world, when I relate to so little of it. Always the outcast growing up, mercilessly ridiculed, I let my fears crush my dreams and aspirations.
Always have I felt this, isolated and alienated, always have I wanted to run and hide from the pain. For many years I did. At some point I decided to use all this pain as fuel so I could at least burn brightly and travel the universe. Search for the pure feeling of wonder and amazement I experienced as a young boy wandering in the wide open fields. Where everything is new and amazing, where everything feels possible and I feel free. I will suffer all the daemons and dark days in the world for this, because magic is rare but it can and does happen.
The world is very far from what I want to make it. I would make it a place where people hurt each other less and understand more. A place with more empathy and less prejudice. A place where dreams, truth, innocence and an open minded sense of wonder is treasured. Where cynicism, greed, lies and apathy are not. A place where I could travel the whole universe, and where there is a place for everyone.
How can you live like this, people ask. How can you live without a home? Without things? Without a secure income? Without any form of stability? Chasing magic? I am very aware that this solitary path of time-traveling is impossible to understand for some. But this is how I want to live and no one can change it or me. Sure, at times it feels like the loneliest life. But my life has always been lonely. At least now the world is my playground.
I do not know if these days of complete freedom, days when all of time and space is my playground, are special. Maybe other people have plenty. I did not. These days are precious to me. Never did I imagine these days could be shared nor how happiness is even better that way. Yet, year four saw the birth of Mad and Magic Raving, and New Mexico in 2012 and 2013 turned out to be pivot points in my space-time continuum. Being able to chase the magic across the universe, blasting music along the way, a wide-eyed kid living an unfiltered life, no safety net, no strings, no shields, pure emotion and wonder. Watching in grateful amazement as the world and everyone I meet responds favorably to my bending of all rules of gravity and life and generally acting rather crazy. If you allow it, allow the world and allow yourself, this dark world can be a most amazing playground.
How can I not live like this, keep searching for what fuels me? How could I ever stop chasing these magic days, days that are infinitely better than anything that ever happened in my old life? If I ever went back it would tear me apart.
So I run. Run for all kinds of reason too terrible and too wonderful. Run on what is now my fifth trip around the sun. Run to chase the magic. It is out there.
Both images by Charlene Winfred, Mad and Magic Raving Tour, April, 2013.