Just two weeks ago, I was sitting in a beautiful town called Asilah in northern Morocco, reading Jack Kerouac's Lonesome Traveler as I sipped my morning half-half coffee and waiting for my boyfriend to return from the bakery (having sent him to fetch breakfast pastry goods, of course). We had travelled from Marrakesh up the coast, via some very remote and breath-takingly beautiful beaches, hills, rural villages and through some of Morocco's big cities. Warmed by the African sun, and about to set off on the next leg of of our journey north to the 'blue city' of Chefchaouen by hitch-hiking, I was far from the realities of my everyday life, without a care in the world. Yet here I was watching the people go about their daily lives with their cares in their worlds, their problems, their very real realities. I felt a sense of detachment, yet at the same time involvement in the big wheel of life that goes on turning no matter what you are doing, who you are, or where you are. The world is such an enormous place. If you start thinking about it, it really blows your mind. But life is what you make it. I was far from being a lonesome traveler, experiencing hardship and the wilderness like Kerouac did. But the people I had talked to on our travels so far, my boyfriend included, had traveled extensively throughout Morocco, the endless white beaches and deserts of the south, the hills and mountains and forests of the north, camping, taking only what they needed, living wild for weeks... And they all seemed to have gained an insight into life that I had yet to discover. But which I hope to. I was in a contemplative mood that day (partly brought on by the choice of reading material). I felt philosophical, and I in fact I still haven't managed to shake that feeling off. I spent a lot of time navel-gazing and star-gazing during my two weeks in that amazing country (I think this is an important element of travelling) and as I drank my coffee, I was thinking about the true meaning of happiness and how it differs from one incredibly different person to the next. The levels of importance attached to certain aspects of life. And essentially what is important in the end. Too many of us can get lost in the little things and let these rule our lives.... Society, routine, responsibility and all those things are, after all, a human construct. And while they are important to the smooth running of the world, it is nice to step outside of the construct for a while. To let go. I was struck by one of Kerouac's sentences in particular, which in fact sparked this little piece I am writing now: life is a great strange dream...
"Happiness consists in realizing it is all a great strange dream."
Having returned to London, Morocco seems like a dream. (It may become more of a reality when I make the move to Marrakesh later in the year but that is another story, or should I say, the next part of my story). I have been thrown back into my own (self-constructed) daily routine of responsibilities. Of translation, proofreading, emails, invoicing, worrying about my bank balance. And constantly staring out of the window longing for the sun to put its hat on, or even to just think about maybe putting its hat on, or even to just touch the brim of its hat and think wistfully, ‘well maybe I could put it on, maybe just for an hour’. In these endlessly grey English days (Bill Bryson once described living in England like "living inside Tupperware" ), it is easy to get caught up in the stresses of daily life. Especially when you are living the lonesome life of a freelance translator. So it is important to make your daily life a life you enjoy, in any little ways you can: take a break, get away, travel and see the world when you can, or failing that, just pick up a book and dive into someone else’s world.
“Thinking of the stars night after night I begin to realize 'The stars are words' and all the innumerable worlds in the Milky Way are words, and so is this world too. And I realize that no matter where I am, whether in a little room full of thought, or in this endless universe of stars and mountains, it’s all in my mind.”