All images by Sun-Young Park and The Travelling Light
This week I had a friend come to visit from Berlin, he's a traveller too and we lived together in a share house in Ubud, Bali for a few months. He was there on the island at a magic time when I first met all these people who worked online and travelled a lot, digital nomads, a few years ago. It was a time when I realised I wasn't so weird or different wanting this freedom, mobility, excitement, stress, to travel so much. He and our housemates and some others from our workspace formed a group that meant so much to me. We had so much to discuss, compare, plan, dream, do together.
In our heads, we were never going home, never settling down, we would never hang up our travel boots and we would live in transit forever. Fast forward a few years and the couple of the group have had a baby in Australia with plans to pick up again and travel when the time is right, another has moved to Japan with his girlfriend travelling whenever they can, another is still firmly on the road and has criss-crossed the planet a few times over since we last saw him, and my visiting friend has just finished a few years working for a start-up in Berlin with plans to roam around South America freely for the next six months. And me, I'm here in Paris carving out a place for myself so I can have a nest to travel from again when I'm ready.
I guess looking back on all of us, from then to now, it's shown me is that this tendency I have towards restlessness and searching, this tendency my friends have too, is not so much about being completely nomadic with everything you own on your back all the time. It's about the freedom to design your life, flow with life and where it wants to take you, whether that's back home, to a new home or out with a backpack on your back for six months in an foreign land. My plan is to build up a life here in Paris that I love but to be able to pick up and live somewhere else for two or three months every year too, somewhere completely different and new to me, to keep learning, to keep opening my eyes to wonder.
My traveller friend, Alain, came to visit in Paris, we strolled Paris on a sunny Sunday...
This week, questions and difficulties around language and culture have been in my heart and mind and have come up everywhere in waking life. I love the excitement and stimulation of living in a foreign country and culture, it's like a puzzle I'll never solve, I'll always be chipping away at this, finding it fascinating, enthralling, consuming and frustrating all at the same time. A lot of the time I love it, but some weeks, some days, it gets the better of me, it gets me down that I don't effortlessly belong here all the time.
Fitting in, belonging, or not fitting in or belonging, is something that's come up a lot in my life so far. When people talk about being lonely, I'd say I've never once felt lonely alone in my own company; this is my natural, comfortable, connected place. I've often felt loneliness though surrounded by people, unable to connect, belong. I've fit in in plenty of places and times but I've also very much not fitted in in others. It's something I go through to challenge my self-worth, value and power I know, but it doesn't make it any less real or scary when you're in it.
And this comes up often in social situations here, language and culture do keep me seperate at times. When everyone around you can converse in a noisy bar with ease in a language you're not fluent in, when everyone's read the same book at high school or known each other since high school, I guess you can't help but feel disconnected.
While I have such a strong feeling that I've found my place here in Paris, it doesn't make me immune to being an outsider in this culture and language. The things I love about being a foreigner in a foreign place also seperate me somewhat from here. The things that draw me here, keep me here, also challenge me, helping me overcome anxieties, fears, limiting beliefs. It's fascinating this complex puzzle that life makes us solve just by living.
One of my favourite Paris friend's, Sun-Young, or Jeune-Soleil, the name she's christened herself with here in France, a direct translation of her name into French, came to visit my apartment on Friday with her beautiful new film camera...
I'll write again next week ❤
p.s. listening to...