I am currently reading about the history of Europe (and what seems to be society itself) and it has sparked a metaphorical flame inside of me. My fascination for people has been something of an obsession since I was a child. Watching the kids around me, not quite able to fit in, I watched, I learnt. When I saw kids abuse other kids, I imagined that they saw that happen at home. When I saw a kid sitting on his own, I imagined him to be creating the next world of Harry Potter.
The inability to feel like I belong has seemingly led me to where I am now, whether I like to acknowledge it or not. I have constantly felt the pressure to perform, to be the best, to be whatever people want me to be; in the process not quite finding who I am. This led me to my first months in Italy; sitting alone, writing, listening to music, and reading, seldom talking to others. Trying to find myself within melodies, narrations of others and in the melancholy and listless ramblings of my own. And to be honest, it is exactly what I needed. To find myself. And whether it was the music, the books, or simply the silence that comes with living in a country where the language barrier is strong, my process has been enlightening. I seek so much more now. Not just understanding of myself, but of others. I watch people and wander what they know, of what they believe in, what brought them to be standing in front of me. There is an old man that was always out the front of the coffee shop that I went to every morning in Italy. He stood there, fingers stained from what I can only assume to be decades of chain smoking, and watched people pass him, just as I did. But why was he there? For the same reasons as me? Is he still trying to find who he is? The kids call him weird, the adults say he isn’t quite right, I only wish I could speak to him. This is what my journey is now, finding out these answers.
This is slowly bringing me back to the history book that I am reading at the moment. It said “Our modern interest and respect for culture begins at this point, when intellectuals first began collecting folk culture. The answer to the prattle about reason by arrogant French intellectuals was to put on your boots and go hiking. Go to the German people, go to the peasants, record their stories and songs: that is where you will find true enlightenment.”
And this is exactly what I find myself doing. Coming to Italy, I was in search of so much. Faith, understanding, spirituality, knowledge, anything and everything I could get my hands on. I know I must sound like a naive 20-something idealist but I know that there is so much to learn, and this right here is where I want to start. Collecting the stories of those I have met along my journey of self-discovery. What advice could others give me? On faith, on life, on love, on anything they wish to pass on. To become my own history book, to collect the songs, the stories, the lives of the people I meet around the world. Imagine what I could find. Imagine what I could learn. Imagine.
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