The tree and the canoe


Photograph by Laurel Anne Holmes.

Let’s face it. I am in my late twenties and I am going through a hard time, induced as it often happens by a combination of causes. The result, in short, is that I don’t really know what I am doing with my life anymore and I feel lonely. I think it’s safe to say that this happens to most of us at one moment or another, so I am not here to complain. Usually, people will turn towards friends and family for support and ultimately overcome their difficult moment.

So, here is my problem: I have moved around relatively a lot in my adult life and so have most of my closest friends. The ones that know me well and would listen and give me advice and support. I don’t have a core of important people geographically close to me, or better yet my important people are not a core at all, because they are scattered around and for the most part they don’t even know each other.

My itchy feet have always been paired up with a deep longing for security, thrust and warmth; things I constantly look for in people around me. It has always been a bit of a struggle to have this two needs coexist in me. It is not easy to maintain long-distance friendships and I suffered a lot while coping with losses I felt were due to my desire for travel. You will have to choose, a boy once told me, rejecting me on the basis of what I love most. However, I used to believe he was wrong, or simply the wrong person for me. I worked hard and felt lonely sometimes, but I reminded myself of how much I cherish my international connections and went on. I believed my restlessness didn’t mean I wasn’t allowed deep relationships.

Now, for the first time, I think a more « settled down » approach to my life would have meant being better equipped to cope with moments like the one I am going through. It’s my fault, the fault of the life I have lived so far, if it is so hard; I can’t keep myself from thinking.

Deep down, I know this is a useless and faulty way of looking at the situation. Eventually the moment will pass. I will hopefully be able to see again how meaningful my dispersed relationships are. How a « more settled down » life would rather have meant not being myself and lead to even more suffering.

A friend (yes, a long-distance one) recently sent me the text of a Vanuatu myth called « The tree and the canoe« . While I deal with my difficulties and all the questioning that they induced, I can at least be assured that I am not the first one to ponder the apparent contradiction of needing both stability and wandering.

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