On wandering ...

‘every journey outside my known world is a form of often painful, sometimes euphoric spiritual growth. I have to break out of the exoskeleton of safety I’m constantly accreting in order to be born into a new world — soft, vulnerable, afraid, eager, porous. I hate it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.’

Nikki Hardin , an extract from Longing Not To Belong.

I loved these words.  I thought to myself, I know that feeling.  That's how it is for me too.

For awhile, back at my childhood home, there was a gap between the hedge and the wire fence and there I was, that creature you see scaling the wooden gate, slipping out into the incredible world of the school next door.

And I think I remember the mix of fear and curiousity ... the need to wander that made me escape anyway.  A need that still overrides my desire to stay safely inside my known worlds. 

I imagine all kinds of things before I leave.  The night before, there  I am, wondering why I do it ... Cairo, Istanbul, Italy, and America.  But wander I must.

I love leaving.

On the other side of the ohmygodwhat haveIdone pre-departure thinking, is that sigh of happiness as I settle into the airport bus and it leaves.  There is the delight in arriving at Brignole in Genova, of opening the shutters, buying the flowers, and settling into a different life, so full of noise and colour.

And on the other side of leaving there have always been marvellous experiences ... like the market that ran all night just below my balcony in Cairo, or the gypsy festival in Istanbul where I wandered with friends, wandering Flanders Fields with prime ministers and actors.

On the other side of fear is Life in a form that I love.

And I go, knowing that it is entirely likely that I will have times when I sink into the dark pit of despair and anxiety for a few hours, where going outside is impossible, where I am left wondering what the hell it is that pushes me to leave and step off into other worlds.  But I always recover.

Sometimes with a belly-laughter-inducing-Mr-Bean-style story of what happened while I was in that place of fear.

I'm the biggest baby in the world sometimes.  I find myself in situations that are retrospectively hilarious but challenging while in the midst of them.  The ambulance in Genova was sobering but it's a story that can't be told with me giggling throughout.  The heat-seeking missile attack over Singapore is another that comes immediately to mind when reminiscing this stuff.  And the taxi-kidnapping in Cairo was also gut-wrenchingly amusing, and should I ever decide to share it here on the blog ...you might agree.

You see, I was a writer before I took photographs ... or perhaps I thought I was a writer before I decided to become a photographer but then again, I had always been a photographer.  Maybe that means that I am a story-teller because surely both paths lead to the same place in the end.  I live with an Imagination that is as big as the Sun ... at least.

Mostly I have learned to live with that Imagination, to laugh over the stories that (don't really) happen along the way, and to leave anyway ...