“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain
Travel to change, not of place, but of ideas. Your destiny of travel is never a place, but it is a new way to see the things. Travel far away to feel the power to choose if you are satisfied with what others have done for you. Thus, improve, improve yourself. And is that if you don't live to travel, you don't serve to live. It's a philosophy of life. It's a way to see the world, it's a lifestyle. There is nothing like go back where nothing changed to realize how you have changed.
Who ask you the reason of your trips, say to them that you ignore what you are looking for. The only search is the experiential one, the cultural one, the survival one, the one which changes you, which helps you, which surpasses you, especially which teachs you. There is no doubts, the best University that exists is travelling.
“You are crazy” I listened again and again from people close to me. “Are you sure about this choice?” This one was another one of the famous sentences I was used to hearing in my closest environment. Are you ever sure 100% of anything? Most of the times we have doubts and insecurities which ones we don’t know how we should face them. No, of course no, I wasn’t sure about it, but something or someone was telling me I had to do it. I couldn’t pass up that opportunity, such as if it were a signal. I have to admit I’m not a believer. More than in the signals, I believe in the coincidences. But a voice inside of me didn’t stop to repeat again and again that what was happening had a reason, and I couldn’t risk regretting it whole my life and not take it.
The procedure of my volunteering was different from the conventional one. I spent several months looking for a volunteering programme in different European countries, but the research was more difficult than I thought in the beginning. Most of the organizations showed impediments or barriers, that didn’t lead to success. One morning when I woke up, I turned on my laptop, I saw a post on Facebook from one of the millions organisations which I kept in touch in the past. It informed about a place for 4 months in Vihti, a tiny Finnish village. Without think about it I sent an application automatically, my brain worked instinctively doing the same I was doing during months. The great difference was that they replied to me immediately, in a couple of minutes. The organization needed someone to replace a Spanish volunteer who decided to leave for personal reasons. No selection process, no endless waits, no previous “boring” meetings, no excessive documentation… It couldn’t be possible to find something as easy as this. But I had to admit it was one of these opportunities that you need to catch immediately, unless you cannot go black after all.
I have never imagined myself spending a while in Finland. I’m not belittling the charm of the country, much less. Neither from his Nordic brothers. However, I have never thought about the possibility to life there for a while. Furthermore, my last experience living abroad was in Brazil. The change, as you can guess, it is huge, rough and hard. Why not? My internal speech about how positives are the changes in our life’s, I should apply to myself. Unless, it would be just theory, rather hypocrisy.
After couple of setbacks from the National Agency, a few weeks to start the journey, I got an e-mail telling me about a trouble related with an unstable process, accordingly, they were confused about the fact if it was being possible the replacement confirmed previously. Currently, in this world, we know exactly how this things work. One day to the next one, a “YES” becomes a “MAYBE”. And in this period of time, there is long time to think about it, too much time I would say. Consider other options, thinking everything calmly. The unstable and hesitation periods are necessary, but when they are longer than you planned, they bring a very strong headache. I think there is no a need to explain what was the resolution.
Days before to start my adventure, I was very nervous. I felt like a new traveller who had never been in another country. But this time was different, because I had to work in a little village, which I got used to calling “my tiny hamlet”. I had to follow a marked routine. Plenty free time, but poor socialization around me. I knew perfectly all the conditions, but I was sure about to go ahead. We have time for all in our life. This time I needed to think about myself and improve myself as a human being. Learning new things, get new personal and professional skills, but mostly learning and respecting myself and the others. Be independent, even more, and need nobody in particular. Just be myself.
Barajas airport: “last call to the hysterical girl who is eating muesli chocolate bars close to the emergency main exit, coming from the flight 3, 2, 1…stop silly thoughts and get you flight right now”.
There I was. After some air contingencies, after three hours than it was planned, I was in Helsinki. I wasn’t afraid, just the opposite. In spite of my limited knowledge in the English language…Sorry, Did I say limited? I wanted to say my lack of knowledge. Doing honor to my beloved country, just trying to say something in English, few words, my face started to become red, pretty embarrassed. I felt very stupid and useless when I realized I was the only one who couldn’t pronounce even a sentence without interruptions. It was very frustrating all the time the same situation. As I was saying before, nonetheless my arrival was much better than I thought. Surprisingly, I met incredible people the first days. Perhaps, in my situation which the expectation of sociability are limited, the emotions and feelings are potentially intensified. Everything is more intense, in the same time, it is also more real. The affective bonds seems (are) stronger. However, the days pass quickly as if it were a dream.
“Wake up!”, an irritating and abrupt voice told me suddenly in my dreams. “You have to work”, the voice continued bothering me again. This time the challenge was there:, wake me up.. “Hello real life” I said looking through the window. My huge window showed me the views of an abundant forest surrounding the surroundings. Everything was brown, sad and bored brown. My curtain, if it is deserved be called like this, was made with a transparent cloth quite shorter than the length of the window. It was sure, I was in Vihti. A countryside with a treacherous name: short but difficult to pronounce in the same time. I didn't find anyone who could understand me at the first time. After four or five attempts, trust me I put always all my effort in it, I was forced to use electronic tools to show these five letters.
There I was, in my dear village. “Is it how did you imagine?”, people asked me. I didn't know what to reply. Partly yes, partly not, you never get to imagine how it is for real. In countless moments you can't stop thinking “Are there people living here seriously?” And if it's like this, “Where are they?” I hope they will come out from their hiding places. Maybe when the sun will shine on, soon, very soon... at least people said that. But it lasted longer than expected.
The hermit mode was coming with me during several conversations with my family and close friends. Jokingly, I commented decidedly I had already come the time to transform myself into a hermit. But behind that, I had a very weird feeling. Fear was the right word when I imagined a sad, lonely, cold, gloomy and isolated scene. Fear was the world I had in mind, without even knowing what causes this fear, or where it came from. Fear is what we experience when we don't know how interpret the unknow. The fear is just a defense mechanism when we don't feel ready to face a different situation. The fear is insecurity and indecision. We build the fear ourselves, we are the only ones who can face it.
Fortunately, the change came soon. After two months I analyzed myself, the best way I found it was during my long and daily walks with these special-amazing people full of innocence and transparency. I had to pick them up in the morning, and leave them at home in the afternoon. They were just kindness. These little-big people made me feel alive every day. They just need love, but they give it without expecting anything from you. They are generous, they are people who you can learn from. I thought I was there to teach them, but I was wrong, they were teaching me what life is, what is important. They gave me honest smiles when you think nobody could get it. In these longs walks (both when I was with them and when I turned), I took advantage to take off any kind of mask, to be sincere and honest with myself, also with the world around me. All was natural, transparent; that's why I had to be. This environment deserved to be replied with my true emotions and feelings. These streets have seen me cry when I thought it was impossible get adapt there. These trees have listened me complain about my sad life, and despise everything around me. The brown and somber landscape started to transform into a green scene, flowering, blooming and beautiful. Perhaps I go in line with the nature, who knows. As I promised to myself I had to keep the deal with the nature being honest. Singing aloud while my headphones impeded to listen my disastrous performances, it was my way to show my happiness to the world. It wasn't a gift to the nature, I was pretty sure about it, but I felt free. I could express myself, nobody heard me, I could be myself. Talk with myself in these delicious roads it became something funny, no interruptions from anyone, no pollution in my breaths, no horn of the cars. Nobody could destroy these amazing time.
I have to admit: I like to be alone. I like to breath the air which surrounds me with nobody who could steal it. The spaces are necessary, the silences as well. We must know how to enjoy the loneliness making of it an own issue. Thus, yes. I sometimes like to be alone, as long as I'm in the right place. One that makes me feel good and out of any kind of prejudice and expectation. Which one get a silly smile to anywhere. Which makes me look at ahead, not delaying my steps. Which one loves me making me behave without fears, far away from the failure and defeat. This place which makes you shine on. Which open your five senses reminding you that everything is possible in this life. Which tells you that the small things make you bigger, and people like you hug you expecting nothing back.
Finding a hole depends more from yourself than the atmosphere around you. Although I have to admit that finding people on the way to share these experiences with, it helps. A glass of wine, a hug, a good conversation, a smile, a nice walk, a caress, a tasty dish, a picnic on the lake; a concert in broad daylight, sunbeams peeking out at 3am, wonderful seagulls posing in the parks, summer clothes in 15 degress, a “moi moi” in the morning from a stranger, other sweet “moi moi's”from these little special people. Having fun picking delicious forest fruits, but enjoying even more relishing it; finding a lost hedgehog in my frontdoor thinking about adopting him immediately knowing the risks involved; starting to acquire a taste for wearing winter-warm clothes even on the beach; loving the sauna in July; small things make you feel alive.
Above and beyond that, the nights pass and the jerseys leave. Winter ends finally. Days which a view makes you dreams and shudder between sheets. Other days which the empty feeling flood your being so hard.
Saying farewell to people, missing them. Although the sun doesn't go out every day, the light was always with us. Twenty hours of light per day bring just good things. “Complaining it is just a vice matter, enjoying it is our thing”, at least it is what two young girls said a summer day wearing a coat, betwen hard laughs such a scream attack, enjoying the beautiful and green views. Cries, wails and goodbyes, is it already the end for real? A simple “thanks” is not enough.
Winter was here. It came cold days in a warm mediterraean summer. Leaving back the morning songs from the elegant northern birds, to wake up with the shrill sound from the jams, hurries and horns. Missing so much my terrible loneliness, which one in some point has wet my bedsheets with my tears, but it have tamed my soul in other occasions. Beyond the pure spiritual issue, which it could be related with the loneliness more than it is really is. Feeling good with yourself is the biggest inner peace we can find in this world.
I can't deny all of you heal me day by day, with love, laughs and more laughs; with huges as well, but not too many. We get used to it and fall into a sentimentality bordering on the purely human. I missed you, of course, I always do during my absence. Perhaps, I did this time more than the others. Have I said “perhaps”? I' sorry, I wanted to say “surely” or “Obviously”. There is no doubt.
I have to admit I'm not the kind of person who give away “I love you” in every corner. Calling overrated those two words falls short. “Love” is it mean “Need”? If it is like this I have to say I don't want to love anyone, just myself. Maybe I should feel sorry to admit so opently that I don't need anybody, but this is the true, it's what I really think. Perhaps the most difficult and develop learning to get it is to know how to life alone being happy. I like to share my life with people, but I don't need someone in particular. Many people will think “This girl is insensitive, has no feelings, she doesn't know what she is saying...”
I would say YES to those people, I could live without them, but it doesn't imply that they are not important to me. Everyone who shared valuable time with me it will be special, because time is always rewarding. Everyone who supported you in hardships, but also hold your hand to enjoy the good times. Ok, I'm gonna tell you, but just once, I love all of you, I do, ok? I love you so much, but I'll be fine, everything will be ok. I'm sure about it because I know how to adapt myself to what the world has prepared for me, or maybe to what I have prepared for him. Probably both.
I have decided I will never unpack my luggage, it will guide my way, it will mark my destiny. With this and my last words I say goodbye to you.
“Don't touch me, don't approach me, but don't leave me alone. Carrying on my back a huge ice block walking throught the suffocating desert of Sahara, surviving? Water-based. Intoxication, bewilderment, confusion, instability... “I'm OK, don't you see? I'm more than ok, I'm perfectly”. Let's drink a beer. Let's go now please. Don't let me think, don't do it. Everything is over before one knows it, but it is enought for now. When all is accessible, it falls in value, even the essence. Strange feeling when you don't belong anywhere. When you don't wanna go back, but you are not sure if you wanna stay there. Perhaps my place is the whole world, THE WORLD, no borders or restrictions. Without those tedious “moral” walls which we build in our minds to create an own indentity related with a tiny piece of land. Instead of find out discovering all of this planet offer us. From culture to culture, from society to society, from people to people, from smiles to smiles. Look how nice it is smile, althought it's nicer laugh out loud even from through the pores of the face. Those that you can digest in your stomach, even come to your eyelids in the form of tears. What do you say? It's beatiful, right? I would call it “Happiness”. I'm here today where I want to be, but what about tomorrow? As Bill Muray would replied in “Groundhog Dayaka”: “What if there is no tomorrow? Today there hasn't been”.
- Verónica Peñalver Usach