For my 19th Christmas I stayed with family friends I’d never met before in Cornwall. We sat in a small medieval church, holding candles and looking up at the big wooden beams. I sung along softly to Amazing Grace, a song that had been sung there for hundreds of years.
There were green rolling hills and drystone walled paddocks and grey cold skies. I walked up to the headland and looked over the cliffs. The waves were crashing against the rocks below. Something was pulling me down and down and I imagined what it would be like to fall and I had to fight against the urge to just jump. Not to end my life, just to know what it would feel like.
We drove as far south as we could. They stayed in the car and I ran up a rocky hill to the lighthouse. I looked out over the Celtic Sea, breathed in that cold air and let it fill me up, grinned and ran back down to the car, telling them, “The world is a really big place, isn’t it?”
On December 20th I wrote in my blog:
What have I learnt?
To come back down to earth and put my feet back on the ground, where no amount of beauty or sunshine will make reality harder to find, hold on to and deal with.
To go back to class and open my ‘Soulsearching 101: Personal Development for Dummies’ textbook and study the chapter on ‘Love and Pain in 10 Easy Steps’.
Even though I’m only a teenager for another ten days, I’m not going to rush this study. I know I’ll never figure it all out and I’ll probably always be a teenager. ‘The Definitive Guide To Growing Up’ is not a book I could find in the Bodleian Library. The Gutenberg Bible was there, the oldest editions of Shakespeare were there, the classics from philosophers and the poets throughout the ages were there. It’s probably buried under an ocean with the Holy Grail, or sitting up on a mountain peak next to the divine guru who knows the answer to the meaning of life.
People have been journeying for thousands of years. People have been searching, asking the same questions since the dawn of time.
And no one I know ever found any answers on the internet.
I went to Ireland with an old friend and turned 20. When I got back to Australia on January 11th, five months after I’d set off, I wrote in my blog:
so i went down the coast and i was sitting on the pebbly part of the beach with my mum and dad sorting through all the pebbles to find the really really red pebbles when i felt so calm cos i was like hey this is me.
this is me.