No matter how old you are, have you ever had to question your relationship to the World? To the Earth that welcomed your young life as stardust coming from space through the magic of procreation and a woman’s vagina?
Have you ever had the chance to remove the blinkers you are wearing to let the world hold your gaze in a wider and more colorful way?
Have you ever ceased to search for and let come to you instead?
Have you ever had the occasion to get out of your own thin human skin to try new possibilities?
Have you even imagined that the life you were living might not be the only one that was given to you?
Have you ever thought about where you are standing right now, where you come from, what you achieved so far or when you would like to be in a couple of months, days, decades? You might then have your personal fairytales to tell your grandchildren on your deathbed, or you might be hit by a car or another misfortune tomorrow.
Have you ever considered being enabled to live without any life goal?
Let me tell you a story.
A young woman I’m quite familiar with shed her skin six years ago. She could have become a zombie, or a butterfly. The caterpillar becoming a butterfly, what a clichéd metaphor. How unoriginal. She was both cursed and blessed by destiny at the same time – she believes in destiny.
From the day she’d been born, she’d been put in a train whose seats were uncomfortable. A train going to a mysterious yet already frightening destination. The final destination being Death, was she, from the incipit of life, aware of the painful outcome? In spite of the current scientific knowledge concerning stages of early childhood brain development, I think so.
People told her that she felt too much, but the train toed the line for years, stopping at every station of a personal journey punctuated for everyone. Everyone else.
Then the train derailed when she realised that no one was everyone. Not even her.
Six years have passed, very slowly I have to say, and this woman took the time, with so much patience, to teach me many things. It was hard for her to make me understand what she was going through. Because this woman is me.
She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and then she gathered all her forces to teach me probably everything I had to know about Birth, and Death, and everything in between.
Nevertheless, she keeps telling me how she’s dying to learn. It even seems to have become her one and only aspiration. Until she dies.
She made me get back to childhood and remain there; I now know I’ll be 8 till I die. I’ll be curious, on the lookout, yet not untroubled. I don’t think I know what carefreeness is.She told me that six years ago, her body and mind said no. No more. Please, no more. Stop it. She was supposed to live everyone’s life but a mix of environmental factors and underlying frailty due to a heavy hereditary background decided otherwise. One day she was in a classroom with her young pupils, trying to give those children a toolbox as full as possible to face life’s ups and downs, she who was not equipped for it, and the day after her world had changed to an indescribable extent.
She began to perceive every little thing differently. Through her five senses, and even a sixth one that she would now call hypersensitivity. Not one compartment of her life was left unaffected. The train took an unexpected corner and left her feeling life – FEELING LIFE – differently.
She’d always been fascinated by Native American peoples and shamanism. So she imagined she was having the experience of something comparable to a shamanic trance. Colors were more vivid than ever. An autumn leaf falling before her made her fall on her knees and brought her to tears. Food was tastier and so was life itself. Poetry was in every sound, every birdsong. She could almost hear the trees talk to her. She had never felt in such harmony with the Universe.
She was devastated as soon as something was making her happy. She was moved by a plastic bag raised by the wind. That was the American Beauty side of her, I guess.
Sometimes, there’s so much beauty in the world [you] feel you can’t take it, you know. Well, do you know? Everything became too much. Everybody was telling her SHE was too much.
Poetry was too poetic to be bearable. But it was compelling at the same time. Books became more nourishing than food. She’d always been curious, but now it seemed like there was not a single subject she was not eager to learn about.
Progressively, painfully, happily, she decided to let go of every single weight that had been put upon her shoulders from the very first day as handicaps for the race that was life. She decided to no longer run into life, by the bye. No more slave to the wage. No more maze for rats to try, no more race for rats to die.
It took her years before she realised her bopilarity was a luck more than a burden. Because she had been given the time to do nothing except learning how to make a feast of dust.
She still keeps oscillating between ups and downs, summits and abysses. Sometimes she’s down, to the ground, but she stopped wondering why the chemistry of her brain makes her burst with unspeakable joy when she wakes up just the day after.
She did not have to devour on-trend self-help books to learn meditation, mindfulness or flow state. She’d always been the contemplative kind. The disease did not leave her the choice. It was a question of survival. She remembered that famous John Lennon quote:
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.
I’ll be 5 till I die.
That woman whose story I am telling you, she had now no other ambition. Making each day as beautiful as possible, whether it comes naturally or it demands an unimaginable amount of effort.
She realised there was a difference between a successful life and personal fulfillment in life. She made her choice. She was at a turning point, and yet she knew she would never go back. No more plans for the future, never. None. Because, as she told me, she does not even have a plan for tomorrow! Except that she has to earn a living, and that is the only constraint to which she still complies with.
Superfluous is no longer part of her vocabulary. But she considers all things immaterial as being essential. Reading eagerly, listening to music until her ears hurt, or going to the movies though she can no longer remain sitting down for an hour and a half; all those things have nothing to do with superfluous. It’s her food. Her thought-provoking food.
She likes walking in the middle of nature or in the middle of the crowd more than anything else. Maybe it is her way to move forward.
She can spend hours forgetting about the time itself, daydreaming, staring at the ceiling, inventing new worlds that will never be discovered.
Her life is made of constant paradoxes and instabilities.
She is a shadow of herself but she salutes the Sun every morning and feels grateful every time she looks at the full moon because she’s thinking about the fact that everyone on this planet looks at the same one.
She goes through the day as she would go through a shamanic trance, like God knows what uninitiated tourist who would voluntarily try it. Because nobody forces her to swallow those potions she was not given the secret of.
And she will laugh out loud to the absurdities of the world, while she will be inconsolable the hour after before a verse by Baudelaire.
Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.
Tu réclamais le Soir ; il descend ; le voici :
Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,
Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci.
Thou, O my Grief, be wise and tranquil still,
The eve is thine which even now drops down,
To carry peace or care to human will,
And in a misty veil enfolds the town.
For Evil will be the fertile ground for her Flowers.
Émilie Fatton is a misanthropist who falls in love with people every single day, spends most of her time complaining – she’s very French – but her questioning spirit is counterbalanced by daily outer injections of inner states of amazement. She could (probably) live without food for several days but would never venture to try to survive a day without music, images and WORDS. She even gets them under her skin.