The allure of release,
A loathing of peace.
Detach your mind
Let the reigns fall,
Answer the instincts’ beckoned call.
Staring through a darkened night,
I call your flicker
To spark my sight.
I’ve met a fair few travellers on this road, different situations, different times, different languages, but there is always something about certain people that magnetise the air around them. They live on a parallel vibration, physically present but spiritually eloping.
Hampstead was once the home to the cultural elite of generations past. Sigmund Freud, T.S Eliot, Samuel Coleridge, Agatha Christie, George Orwell, John Keats, Lord Byron, Stephen Fry, Robert Louis Stevenson—I could go on until the digital ink runs dry. So many intellectual powerhouses once called this small postal district of London ‘home’. So maybe it was something in the water that caused me to end up a stones throw away from the echoes of these people. At the home of a regular I came to call my friend, just around the corner from my last vestige of employment in London. It was here that the concept of the void was brought up to me for the first time in a language that blended just right with my sensibilities.
Classic 80’s rock ballads cascaded across the room setting a soundtrack for the four of us from different times and woefully different places. It was around 3am and the body aches were dulled sufficiently by the free flowing booze and— ( Editor Note: After consultation with several lawyers and a chief justice I have concluded independently and of my own volition—not to continue this line of thought, use your imagination, I cannot do all the work for you) . As I arched my neck up feeling the cracks simmer the soreness in my neck I saw the full moon above, through the glass ceiling on the second floor of his house. The minimalist style overwrought with relics of a classical mind. The record player dormant in the corner gaining dust as he bickered with another over the YouTube playlist settings. The wall was lined with VHS tapes, cult classic dvd’s, and all manner of albums. The man himself was the enigmatic type. Not one you can pinpoint with a general set of descriptors. His greyed hair was not born from time or genetics, but of an overabundance of living in a perpetual movement. He had a walk and a talk that was simply not in the same beat as the rest of us, always moving to the rhythm that protruded exclusively from himself.
“IT’S THE VOID!” he proclaimed after taking a long quenching toke. He spoke as he illustrated two overlapping circles in the air before him— a Venn diagram in three dimensions. “The void is where your mind can be, it’s pure chaos, it’s unpredictable”. His eyes danced upward as the overcharged electrons were scattering from idea to idea at lightning speed. As the whiskey emptied and the beers flowed our melody had become more bass than lyrical, the cigarettes we rolled began to lose shape. Falling apart as easily as our resolve solidified. “You have a balance in your mind, the void and the logical, some people live too long in the logical and lose their humanity.” Which, he had a point—each one adding a new layer of resolution.
“BUT!” his arms shot up with his distinct poetic bravado; “One mustn’t stay too long in the void”, his experienced eyes pressed tighter as if to see the thin string he ‘held’ in front of him. His cigarette had burned out into a crippled worm of ash hanging against gravity— “The balance. That is where it all exists. Not too much or little.” I detected a drop of enthusiasm as he reached the end of this point. The never-ending reminder that one cannot stay in the sun too long. He chuckled it off as quickly as he started it. No definitive conclusion. Which is more or less the point I derived from the lost hours we spent talking about art, life and the pursuit of red herrings. No one can say how much is too much for minds like ours, especially our own. My God, that sounds like an addicts ‘carpe diem’.
Every day across the world I had seen the same person over and over like a glitch in the matrix. You know the ones, maybe you’re dating one, married to one, friends with one, maybe you are one. They have life scheduled to the letter, their habits become routines, the routines become the drains. They walk in single file through the glass doors, every one of them believing that they will too ‘have it all’ if they follow the leader. Rinse and repeat. There’s no room for improvised life in minds like these. A helpful lesson I learned on the minimum wage is the balance of it all. Letting disappointment become a necessity rather than a burden, nothing works straight away, nothing is without challenge. It’s a balance that’s hard to conceptualise just the same as smoke is hard to grasp in your hands.
Our discussions and opinions about work and money and life quickly expanded into the realm of travel, existence, love and heartbreak—all relative to the ever fluid concept of the Void.
He was an interesting bloke, and believe me – it takes a lot to stand out of a crowd of circus performers I had come to call my family. Each one had some form of unique proclivity found in any outcast. Strange? Maybe. Yet the bricks that hold the world together need the fluid concrete to stay in place, there is value to be between the cracks (phrasing boom).
The beauty of the conversational evolution was the principal reason for it’s existence, oh yes, this is going to be a mind-fuck ladies and gentlemen. The Voids way of life is not one of excess as you might be thinking, it is simply the fuel we supply ourselves. The Void is living chaotically— allowing life to be what it is and releasing the reigns that are attached to the stone in front of us. So many of the people that tattoo themselves into your memory are the ones who know how to navigate through the darkness. I find myself making more mistakes, saying too much, being too much to compensate for the lack of light in front of me.
Much stronger minds than mine have investigated this concept before me, and I don’t intend to state I have cheated anything new. I simply write from my own little story, we all perceive everything with ferocious subjectivity. Nothing we see is exactly as another sees it. Some see life, Hunter saw the Edge, Nietzsche saw a theory, I see a void.
Is it the right way? I’m not sure, but the longer I travel and the more I’m exposed to the similar parallels and stark differences that lay beneath each culture— the more I want to jump into it all, let it go and let insanity reign. It’s not for everyone, you need to learn to let go of a lot of things we hold close to the chest. Safety, ego, pride, love, even clothes (I’m sorry jacket I left in Berlin, I hope the bastard who took it is wearing you well). One thing is certain on this no-mans-land road— this soul of mine is going to need some tougher scar tissue to persevere.
The Void is still a work in progress. To be honest it’s a tornado in the mind as I attempt to recall every detail from this savage waltz through the European borders. Instances like these call for an example to illustrate the portrait I see in my head. When you travel, the Void can be a cruel mistress or a sweet sun kissed summer love. Don’t think of me as a Peter Pan chasing maniac, responsibility is the key of everything. There’s many ways to take responsibility not the least of which being the undertaking of a path as your own and accepting your choices as yours and not to blame this that or the other if it all goes to shit. It’s simply that age old pursuit of a new perspective.
I was thinking about travelling recently, and the inherent thirst I have to keep moving. The old question that philosophers have posed for different reasons for generations keeps surfacing in parallel to my thoughts. If you could know the exact day of your death, would you want to? Heavy yes. Yet, if you desire a true adventure, would you want a return ticket? To know when it all ends can be a prickly beast to confront.
I’ll come back to this later, for now I need to sleep.
To the Birds, Hallelujah.