I see myself, about ten years old, buried in my parent’s living room armchair, with a big book in my hands. It’s Sunday morning and the rest of my family is waking up and starting their day. I, on the other hand, don’t move. My body is an empty unresponsive shell: I’m travelling…I’m someone else, somewhere else. I don’t answer to my mother’s questions, I don’t feel hunger, nor the need to change my body’s position; I’m simply not me. I’m Jo, distraught because her little evil sister burned her book. I’m Fred, escaping Hogwarts with my brother, leaving behind tricks and traps for hateful Mrs Umbridge. I’m Antonio José Bolívar facing the tigrillo, full of respect for the beautiful animal that I have to kill. Soon, too soon, it’s dark again and my eyes squint to keep reading. I’m forced to stop. I leave my happy places, I’m back home.
I’ve always believed, hoped, that once I found my true passion I would be just as dedicated. I would be able to experience the same devotion. I could see enthusiasm absorbing me completely, making me forget everything else around me, erasing time and filling it with countless hours of pleasure and satisfaction. This might explain why I still don’t have a plan, an answer to the question: “What will you do with your life?”. I’m still searching that overwhelming passion. I still believe I have one, I just have to find it. Even if reality has proven me wrong for 28 years and doesn’t seem to want to come around any time soon.
Or one could say, that my passion was there all along, I’m just too afraid to accept that the only thing I’m exceedingly good at, is escape. Anything to forget who I am, to flee my responsibilities, to erase my list of duties. My passion are stories, everybody else’s but mine. Evasion is my addiction. I’m obsessed with tricking my mind into believing I’m someone else, living a different life. Today I’ve traded books with tv shows. Just one more! 45 more minutes. A shot of poisonous unrealistic drama. A line of exciting exaggerated emotions. A dose of desirable, attractive lives. Hahaha, I’ve even become lazy in my obsessions turning to the cheaper, easier mean to escapism.
I feel enslaved to this habit, I don’t seem to be able to stop. And it scares me. Not the practise itself, but the anxiety it hides. My life doesn’t meet my expectations. I’m unsuitable to the image I created of and for myself. If I can’t bear to spend time with me, how can I force my company onto anyone? I can feel my body roll up like a scared hedgehog showing needles all around. In society I shut up, too afraid to say something dumb, or I flavour myself with alcohol attempting to become more interesting.
I’ve escaped so much that I’m behind. I’m stuck. I don’t know how to catch up with all those people who are trying hard to make their dreams and projects work. I even envy the ones that have failed, their belief was so great that they must have enjoyed it, they must have felt extremely alive. All my projects seem useless in comparison, mere distractions in between exiles, landmarks I have to accomplish to be considered normal, to honour my place in this world. I never wanted to be normal though, I always dreamed to be eccentric. I didn’t need to have an impact in this world, I needed though this world to have an impact on me. I needed this life to make me crazy, to hit me with all the excesses it had. To shake me. To drag me to unbearable lows to then shoot me to unreachable heights…
Others seem to have found this, and it might be entirely my fault, but I haven’t and I’m scared I never will. I want the emotions that come with an alternative life, but I never had the balls to leave the conventional path that appeared under my feet, so what did I expect? I’ve thought so many times to leave and hunt for adventure, but I never did. I can’t bring myself to abandon my unfinished duties, my family, my work, to just go and test myself in extreme situations. And then there’s that dreaded outcome: what if even adventures won’t give me what I crave? What then? That’s it? I’m sentenced to live a boring life with entertainment as my only palliative?
Is this how it starts? Are these the thoughts that hunted my friend for years before he decided to jump in front of a train? I don’t know. I will never know. But it sure is why his story is so deeply engraved in my subconscious, emerging at the most inappropriate times. Why I still sometimes have nightmares about him. I wish I could have answers. I wish I could get an explanation from him, because if he, who I’ve always believed was one of those who lived their life to their fullest, who had countless adventures even at such a young age, who had a real passion and a gift, if he felt like there was nothing worth living for, am I delusional? I, who still believe one day won’t feel the urge to escape anymore. I, who want to believe I will eventually love my story and who I’ve become. I need him to tell me it was something else, a completely different reason that brought him on those rails. I need him to reassure me, to say I’m right to have faith, to convince me I should wait and shake my stupid boredom, because it’s just that, a stupid feeling I can wave away. I would like to hear him admit he was wrong, he should have stayed, because any life is beautiful and worth living. And it must come from him and no one else, or I won’t believe it. I know it’s not fair to him or his memory as well as I know it’s just impossible, but that’s what I would need to stop my addiction.