I’m Happy

October 22, 2009

I wrote this in my journal yesterday, and filled the last 5 pages.  As such, I thought I might as well share what’s on my mind these days.  I’m leaving it as unedited as possible, as it was a very stream-of-consciousness piece, and I think it’s more authentic like this.  Cheers.

10-18-09: 5 Days. I came to León 5 days ago to spend the night, and I’ve been unable to leave since.  The night of the 13th I went out with the Sonati family (the hostel I’m at) for Neil’s going away party, and instead of dropping dead from exhaustion I instead went home with a very pretty canadian girl I met.  Had sex for the first time since December – sad – and didn’t suck at it.  She kicked me out at 5am so as not to cause an awkward scene with the Nica family she’s staying with, and I went home laughing at the ridiculousness of it all – what a life!

Every day since has been fantastic – this group I fell into is just so friendly, genuine, good.  We came together like old friends, sing without shame, share ourselves openly, talk love, life, gods without fear.  As one who tries always to be open and honest with the entire world, it is one of the greatest experiences in my life to meet people of like mind – when we’re all together here I feel as if my whole lifestyle is justified and right – no, more then that – I know that I’ve made the right choices in coming here, and that continuing this life is the absolute most important thing I can do.  To go back is impossible – not physically of course, but I CAN’T – philosophically, spiritually, for my own development’s sake, cannot return home, perhaps not ever.  Perhaps not ever – such a scary yet liberating thought – to live like this would be heaven indeed.  I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know anything except that in not knowing, in drifting, I am happy, and that to be happy is everything.

To be happy is such a wild experience – I thought that I had been!  All my life, I thought I’d had happiness, but really I had just been accepting, resigning myself to a life of lows and mediums – never even knowing highs. Finding this new, true happiness has been looking out the window one day and instead of staring at the same blank brick wall, finding that the building opposite is gone and finally seeing the world outside – mountains and rain, with a beautiful sunset beyond.  How could I not want to explore this new world, especially when I like it so much better?  It’s like the first time I heard a love song and truly understood – just as intense, just as life-changing.  I can’t go back because that old world doesn’t even exist any longer – torn down, burnt to the ground by the intensity of the new life ahead of me.  I’m not me, not who I was before.  Even if I wanted to, I can never go back to be who I was, live how I did.  The very thought makes me smile, or I would if I wasn’t already.  I’ve finally found what I want, and that is the most beautiful feeling of my life.  I only hope that everyone I care about and love can do the same one day. -k

I wrote that first part sitting in an ice cream parlor, watching kids run and yell in the park across the street.  Later I came back and wrote this next bit – connected albeit loosely to the first.

So what is it then?  What is the thing, feeling, thought, action, the truth I’ve found that sends me through life as a happy, grinning idiot, what is it that I want for the rest of my life?  What is going on that makes the new life new, separates my now from the unreachable then and what do I want to extend into the onrushing future to come?  In short, what changed?

8 months ago I started this journal as a scared, frequently depressed, often confused, perpetually lonely young man, unable to see what kept me feeling so trapped, isolated.  I begged for change, begged for a different life.  The Peace Corps, running away to Honduras, starting over – all this was a reaction to my unhappiness and desire for a new life, a different me.  Now I finish it, fill the last dirty pages with scrawled blue ink, as a still-young man, in a wholey different world, in a vastly changed life.  The confusion, fear, depression is all still here – I can hardly claim to be perfectly happy – but they’re all so much less significant to me now.  I’m in control, not my emotions.  I don’t hate myself, on the contrary I love who I’ve become.  I love my life – truly, completely.  So I must ask again – what changed?  Why am I now who I am, and not who I was?

What didn’t? – that might be a better question if I was looking to make a list – but no, that isn’t what I mean.  I’m looking for a shift, a difference in how I act, interact, react that changes everything else – a trigger – and it might be best summed up best as this – on the edge of a great black unknown, faced with the choice between stepping back, being safe, or just throwing myself into the world, I leapt – jumped into a life I knew nothing about.  On April 21st I was given a mandate – get out of the Peace Corps, take a plane home, rebuild, and find another route to making myself happy in their world – “they” being of course the people who influence, shape, lead our society – and I almost took it as a given that that was what I needed to do.  I just didn’t see another option – there’s only one world right?  One society, one way to fit in.  I didn’t know I had another choice.

It wasn’t until that night, tossing sleepless in my hotel bed, that I asked myself the most obvious question in the universe – why?  Why am I actually trying to fit myself into a role I don’t want, as a member of a society completely at odds with the way I view life?  What stops me from changing that, from living as I wish to?  I thought long and hard, and the only answer I came to was me.  I’m doing it – I’m keeping myself here, making myself unhappy, trapping myself in this life.  No one else could – no one save me controls me or my life.  So what then stops me from changing, from going another direction, from searching out happiness by me instead of as defined by them?  I fell asleep smiling because I knew the answer to that one – it was only me, and if I’m the only thing standing in my way, well, I know how to fix that.

I jumped the next day – ran away, and in doing so, dropped into wild, miserable limbo.  As it turns out, being happy on your terms is impossible when you don’t know them, when you’ve never tried and don’t even know how.  My initial excitement was blunted quickly, early, brutally against the reality of life in Honduras without money, at my awful job at the Casa Kiwi.  After June, July – miserable, drunk, without purpose or path – it almost broke me.  I nearly gave up altogether, came within days of going back home, buying a plane ticket back to their life, not mine.

I didn’t though – realized that life in another place is not all it takes, that living by someone else’s rules is diametrically opposed to what I wanted, and so again I leapt.  Quit my job without plans and set out afresh – no job, home, nothing we’re taught to view as a safety net – you can’t have safety and start over – so I took a go into the unknown once again.

This clean break from everything familiar, from even the structure – job, house, social network, routine – the formula of life I’d always assumed to be natural, turned out to be what I needed to find my own goals, my own terms.  These past months adventuring, hitchhiking, running, making friends, traveling, have caused me to change so much that I scarcely recognize who I was before – the new me forged is forged by the new life – open, spontaneous, driven only to be happy, and without the self-limitationsand doubts that crippled me before.

So to answer the question – what changed? – I dove headfirst into the great unknown, shed the bonds of what I thought I knew, of social convention, of my own expectations – this has made all the difference.  All that which comes from here stems back to that. -k

I left it here, out of space, but I’m still not completely satisfied with what I’ve written – there’s more that must be said, I haven’t yet said what it is that I’ve found, and so I’ll try and put that next.

10-19-09: I don’t have all the answers, and I know that I can’t live entirely outside of society – at least, I personally can’t, because there are so many things I need from others, from the world.  Companionship for starters – I’m a very social person, and one of my greatest joys is in meeting others, picking their minds, finding others in the world who know what I don’t and can teach me that which I haven’t yet learned.  I’ve always been like this, but now I know that there is nothing to fear in the new, the unknown, in walking right up to the most beautiful woman I’ve seen and starting a conversation, or in joining a group of people and making friends with them.  I depend on the world for food, for a roof over my head, for a ride down the highway even – I’ve never been so dependant on others then I am in this new life, and so I can’t pretend to be living outside of society.

Still, I’ve found a way to live my terms because I’ve found a new way to interact with the world – instead of settling down, instead of searching for some place or that ephemeral “something” that will make me feel less alone or unhappy, I know now that I am in control of how I fit into this crazy thing called life – if I’m not happy, then nobody can make me stay that way except for myself.  If I don’t like how my day is going, I can change it – I think I knew this before, but I was just too afraid to act on it.  The first leap was terrifying, but once I saw the beauty in it, felt the sting, experienced failure and got over it, then every leap since has been easier – fun even.  The trick – for me, since I can’t speak for anyone else – is in summing the courage to just go, and in maintaining myself in a state – emotionally, but also in terms of possessions and physical condition – from which I can take these leaps whenever the need or desire strikes me.

This necesitates a certain sacrifice – I’m limited to a handful of belongings, whatever I can carry with me, and I can’t ever get too attached to any of them.  I don’t have a house, won’t let myself get into a career, can’t go buy a new car or even a new cell phone.  It’s the antithesis of what I’ve been taught by society to want – no stability, nothing long-term, little in the way of protection – but it’s become blindingly obvious to me that those things, supposedly good, are what has kept me from being truly free, able to make my own decisions, and thus unhappy, for my entire life.  If I wish to continue living like this, I will have to accept that I won’t ever be the one with the cool new car, the new clothes, the house to come back to.  I wonder still if I’ll be content as a traveler, as a bum, living without anything of material value for the rest of my life.

Then I remember two things that make me not worry about that.  First, I’m not locked into this life – if it ever becomes unfun to live as I do, if the hassles of my existence outweigh the benefits, if love fades to leave just a bitter taste in the back of my mouth, I am in no way obligated to do this forever.  Unlike the sedentary life of those with toys and belongings, I can always come back to it.  The opposite isn’t true – if I have a lease, a mortgage, and a contracted job, how on earth can I flee?  This freedom thing does have its benefits.  The 2nd thing I remember when I’m doubting myself is that I did have a car, piles of possessions, and a roof to call my own, and I was a truly miserable person, self-medicating on marijuana, alcohol, buying stupid shit to bring a spark of interest into my monotonous days.  I can still get a job, I can find a place to live, and hitchhiking is more fun then driving any day – I’m still able to settle down a bit, as I’ll be doing in the next few days, work, build up the funds to travel again.  I have options available to me that no one on the other side can understand unless they’ve been standing where I am now.  I’m not claiming to have found the key to all happiness, but at least for now I’ve created a life I am content with, one where I go through my days smiling, one that lets me be myself without fear of the reprecussions.  If that means I’ll never have “made it” by societal standards, then I can only reply “fuck it, I’m happy” because I know that in life, being happy is all that counts.  I’m happy.


2 Responses to “I’m Happy”

  1. Janie Says:

    This is the first comment i ever posted. Can´t help it. Was touched by your story and extremely happy to know i´m not the only person with these kind of thoughts. Actually i just applied for a job at casa kiwi, think Honduras is an interesting country. I´m reading for my second leap. What was so bad about the job if you don´t mind me asking?

    Janie the chef

  2. K Says:

    Hey Janie, K here. I’m honored you like my writing – it’s always nice to know I’m not completely spitting into the wind. Anyway, there are a million reasons you shouldn’t work at the Casa Kiwi, starting with the fact that the owner and her friend are a couple of old, dusty, cranky alcoholic chain-smokers who will grind you down with constant bitching and petty complaints. If you don’t like being constantly criticized while working 12 hour days for $5, intense isolation, awful living quarters (that shared apartment? Try 2 concrete rooms full of mosquitos, frogs, awful beds, and iguanas shitting on everything) and to top it all off, you’re going to be doing everything – not just cooking but burning garbage, cleaning toilets, and in the process stealing a job from a local woman with 3 children to feed.

    Really, there are so many better options of what you could be doing with your time that I would probably rate hooking or getting addicted to smack as better uses of your time then going to the Casa K. That said, if you do end up there, before you leave in the middle of the night like everyone else who works there, tell Chaz that she’s welcome, and that K sends his love.

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