Mental Health Awareness Week – A Short Story.

I have often thought about suicide.

It used to scare me. Now it intrigues me.

I would be so terrified of losing control of my life and my actions that I’d panic my overloaded brain into thinking very cruel things. It was a riot. When I was younger I somehow took solace in these depressieve moments. The ease of slipping into a negative state lead me to become almost obsessed with my own funeral. There was less difficulty in staying broken than dragging myself out of this destructive slumber. Inside me there evolved a false sense of satisfaction in wallowing in the self-deprecating slumber I resisted awakening from.

Alas I never really could take my own life. I thought about it. I considered it. An important reason contributing to my desire of living was purely down to the domino effect my departure could have on others. I will be clear when I tell you that this wasn’t the sole rationale for my continuing existence because I cannot agree with the notion that suffering for the benefit of others is any way to live. We as human beings are more than capable of living and not surviving. We are all intelligent enough to make our own decisions (except for those who may be mentally impaired or sick, but that’s another discussion) and each individual ultimately must make their own resolutions when dealing with their own personal lives.

NOTE: (This does not mean anyone should ever encourage or enable an act of suicide or self harm. It is our moral duty as friends, family, peers and cohabitants to guide others in a positive light and onto a better path.)

But it did become important to me and eventually aided in my own realisation that I meant something to a lot of people. I have a large family and many close friends within a wider community/ social network. I can only speak for myself when I say that the knowledge of being important in another’s life is enough to try and find a way through whatever shadows you find yourself entrenched in. A different perspective can be sometimes all we need in moments of self-crisis.

This story is about a young boy who still mourns for his father after he ended his own life prematurely. I used this character as my idea of my own future son. I hold great aspirations in becoming a father eventually and by writing this particular short I am inspired to discover what it means to be a parent and to guard someone’s life, instead of a darker future of losing a battle against my own fears. It’s a personal reminder that there’s still a lot for me to do, to learn and experience. Even after the great adventures I will embark on in the future the horizons are still vast and I will still have new roles to motivate me after that.

The rain didn’t seem to bother him anymore. A thousand drops lashed him repeatedly and soaked him viciously down to the bone. A ruthless Scottish wind slapped his body violently. His white t-shirt was now wringable and his grey, cotton shorts now weighed considerably far more than when he left home. 

‘What’s the flu tae me?’ He asked himself. It was telling that he took comfort in finally feeling something…

”It’s been six years since my da’ died. My best mate. We done everything together. We’d watch the football. We’d play the football. He used to take me to my games every Sunday morning and to training twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday. Up at half five every morning to not return until the back of six at night. Only to get a quick scran then take me out again. Sometimes we wouldn’t be back until ten o’clock at night. My mum offered to go instead ’cause she could see he was knackered, but he never did say aye. It meant as much to him as it did to me. Possibly even more.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand really why he done it. How he could leave me and my mum like that. He might’ve been tired aye but I never thought he was depressed. I sometimes wonder if it was me that made him do it. Did I stress him out or did I make him miserable? Maybe he didn’t really love my mum or me. For the rest of my life I will always feel guilty. 

Mum tried so hard to pick up the pieces. With football and everything. I remember the first time she told me I couldn’t go. Her eyes swelling up with tears, choking on her words. She put on a brave face but it was easy to see. Eventually I stopped going altogether to help her feel less of the blame. ‘I’m no interested anymore mum.’ ‘I’m just gonny go up the park with my mates instead.’

I’m 19 now. Fuck I could do with having him here. College is shite. All I want to do is bevy and smoke green. Mum thinks I should be getting a girlfriend. Someone to take my heed out the gutter you know? I’m no interested. If my old man didn’t want to live with me then why would some daft wee lassie feel any fucking different?”

He’d walked a fair distance now. Daylight was starting to break but there was no glimpse of the sun. It was to be grey, cloudy, solemn.. this morning. ‘Fuck it’. He sat down at an old bus stop. A brief moment of sheltered relief from the rain. His cheeks were pink but his hands were blue. A car speeded past and nearly soaked him with a splash from a puddle on the road. There was nothing to suggest his life could ever get better. And yet he still took comfort in the desolation of it all.

 

‘The Wide-Eyed Scotsman’ is a collection of thoughts, written pieces, opinions and blogs by myself, Aidan Meehan. Unless stated otherwise all of the work on this site is my own. All of the photos, unless credited, are my own. If you have anything to say or if you enjoy my updates please like, share, follow, communicate or criticise (be gentle). I am not a professional blogger/ writer/ photographer and any interaction which may help to improve my work would be appreciated.

It means the world to me to see people viewing this project. I hope its able to give you something in return.

For all private enquiries get in touch at aidanmeehan94@outlook.com. Thank you.

 


 

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Le Ciel Rose du Soir.

A thought track I wrote at the weekend about reflection. Feel free to share with anyone who this may be of use to, or give your own input in the comment section below. 

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In a long, drawn-out, thought provoking attempt to piece together my own opinion I’ve sit myself down on a Saturday evening with a pen, paper and the privilege of time. It’s my 24th birthday and for me this one is quite significant. Not for most people. Or maybe it is. Normally it’s the number 18 or 21 that push people into some form of unadulterated frenzy. The landmarks that symbolise the new beginnings, the next steps or the turning of corners. ‘Starting a fresh!’ Naturally turning 24 isn’t one of those. A purgatory of age. Which in fairness is probably why there is a deeper significance than its predecessors. Turning 24 has done exactly what it says on the tin.

It hasn’t been a new beginning. A next step. The turning of a corner. Or a fresh start.

It hasn’t been any of them. And thats where my thoughts begin to rumble.

Every time a birthday came around, or a trivial occasion like new year (mibby even a win for the Scottish national team at the fitbaw) I suddenly became enthused at the thought of an opportunity to redefine myself. Big promises were made and a few prayers were said (depending on whether I believed in the Lord Almighty at the time.. He always seemed to pop up for the big moments.) resulting in sparks of genuine hope to seek out new levels of self-fulfillment. A desperate ploy to make life bearable disguised as renewed ambition. Eventually the fatigue set in. The mask slid off and left me helpless. Stranded. Exposed in the glare of a million spotlights. At least thats what it feels like when the walls are closing in.

This years anniversaire has come and gone without the chance to notice it. It is turning 24 after all. I’m a big boy. Nae presents and parties at this age.

But I don’t have that desire or thirst for radical change. I’m toying with the notions of a challenged contentment and doleful dullness. No complaints of an urgent nature. My position, my direction all seemingly positive. Its the first time in my life I’ve felt responsible and (to a certain extent) capable. I’m growing as a person and I’m enjoying it. And in the grand scheme of things I would say that this is a basic requirement in the quest for accomplishment.

So whats the deal with the doleful dullness?

From a young age I understood what it meant to not have control over dangerous situations that impact greater than what is feasibly contained. Losing that control would be another harsh lesson despite the willing endeavors to avoid and resist. To describe the emotions of revisiting certains memories is a difficult picture to paint. On a personal level, an arduous notion to grasp. How does a 12 year old know how to act in life changing situations that will go on to shape him for the rest of his life? Even with hindsight an answer isn’t clear.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m in a good place right now. And I have been for a while now. But it’s always there. That back-to-earth feeling whenever I go to take those fucking happy pills. Every day I remind myself theres two 50 milligram capsules of Sertraline waiting to align the chemical imbalance in my brain, and one day sooner or later when the time is right I’ll have to restart a battle with an old foe in order to win my freedom again.

Yet how does one approach a battle with himself?

Honestly I take great fear in this. I know what its like to already feel defeated and I know what its like to look up from the pits and not see any lights. I don’t want to go there again. I was afraid of everything. Afraid of myself. Afraid of my surroundings. I didn’t work or go out nor could I bare to eat. I had turned on myself to a point of almost no return. My mind began to run riot and in some cases tricked me. One day at my lowest point I went a walk along the River Clyde with the intent to find some headspace. . I stopped beside the river and looked across the water, gazing intentedly, trying to make sense of it all. My head filled with darkened fear. I was losing control again. My mind drew my eyes into the middle of the water and I felt the river speak to me. There weren’t any voices, just this magnetic-like energy drawing me to the barriers. My entire being locked in for a few minutes and then I pulled myself away. I remember this time as clear as day. Birds flew over the river but they didn’t settle me and the sky was a cruel mixture of very deep, hoar clouds and a bitter, crimson sky.

I know this makes for troublesome reading. Nevertheless it would be easier to pretend this didn’t happen at all. For the sake of comfortability I could swear to never mention it
for as long as I lived. Comfortability for you. Locking it away in a forgotten chamber in my head for it to scream at me sporadically like a damned and caged soul. I’d call that regression. This year alone I’ve achieved too much to start going backwards now. I’ve broken personal barriers! Wandered down unfamiliar roads! Crossed foreign & disputed borders! (due to entering Kosovo while on my Balkan wanders, I’m now very likely to have some issues should I ever visit Serbia. They, along with Russia, don’t recognise Kosovo as an independent nation.. in the eyes of the ruling Governments I entered Serbia illegally. Probably a good thing I don’t plan on going there any time soon then). I urged myself to live in ways I didn’t know I was capable of and still I yearn for more. Despite the trials, troubles and tribulations of it all I am the Wide-Eyed Scotsman and every waking moment is more significant than those before.

So long may it continue…

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“It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.” 

― Albert Camus, The Stranger

 

The Hidden Life of Trees.

“A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a “wood wide web” of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods.” 

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“There are more life forms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet. A mere teaspoonful contains many miles of fungal filaments. All these work the soil, transform it, and make it so valuable for the trees.” 

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“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with larger machines.” 

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“If we want to use forests as a weapon in the fight against climate change, then we must allow them to grow old, which is exactly what large conservation groups are asking us to do.”

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My hope is that the wolves’ stewardship of natural processes in Yellowstone will help people appreciate the complex ways that trees interact with their environment, how our interactions with forests affect their success, and the role forests play in making our world the kind of place where we want to live. Apart from that, forests hide wonders that we are only just beginning to explore. I invite you to enter my world.

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All quotes taken from ‘The Hidden Life of Trees‘ by Peter Wohlleben. Just this week I plunged myself into a new career path. I’ve begun an apprenticeship in landscaping and green space management. l’Aménagement des Espaces Verts.. Paysagers.

It’s a whole new world to me. A path in my life which opened after reading this book. It details a fascinating insight into the lives and communication systems of the forest and trees. I came across it at a time not long after a very upsetting episode where my health took a hit. And the combination of moving to an area of the world with an abundance of ecological wealth and the ‘luck’ to find this book on a spontaneous visit to the Argyle Street Waterstones in Glasgow City Centre, has given me a certain belief that this may just have been meant for me. It’s no surprise to me that the quality of my life has vastly improved since redirecting my focus down this road. And it gives me great motivation to work harder to succeed in these challenges set out for me.

I took these pictures in two separate places. The 2nd, 4th and 5th at the Old Kilpatrick Hills, Scotland. And the 1st and 3rd at the Gorges du Versoud, France.

Crossing Borders. A Three Part Series.

Part 2. Eugene & Monica, Bulgaria.

I shuffled past the various cars and trucks who sat attentively in an orderly fashion at the first border patrol, leaving Romania. The road stretched on for a good while with nothing but green grass and the base of a cemented broken road barrier surrounded by the broken segments of its former upper layer. Wild masses of green bush overflowed and the painted road lines had faded to such an extent it was difficult to tell if they were lines at all. At the end of the road there was a sharp turn where the Bulgarian border patrol lay, rendering it invisible from my current view. I found myself in No Man’s Land. Up until now it was obviously easy to be alone on my journey but now I never had a location to comfort me. I couldn’t say logistically ‘I’m in Romania’ or ‘I’m in Bulgaria’. The history of human behaviour will tell you that not having an answer is enough to turn someones life upside down. We crave answers, thirst for knowledge and push ourselves to unthinkable limits for a whiff of understanding. It’s an absurd assurance like this that calms an anxious mind in unsettling moments and keeps the flightful brain from derailing hopeful ambitions. And yet here I was.. free from security. Utterly bereft of my psychological safety net. Except for the Sertraline which often robs me of my own pride in portraying any glory and ridicules me whenever I begin to believe in myself. Considering the circumstances I’ll give myself this one. The road gave me this one.

I sat for a while at an inning in the wall, protected from sunlight by the adventurous shrubbery. This travelling business had really hit me. Emotions ran high frequently. It’s such a fucking buzz. And the adrenaline of pilgramming in these far and distant lands implored me to bask in my awestruck incandescence and lay my spinning head down on my bag for a short time.

‘I’ve come a long way from Clydebank.’

And it’s true. Looking at a globe I could’ve gone much, much further. To the Western shores of the USA, or the most Eastern point of the Asian
continent.

‘In time. Be Patient.’

Some time had passed and I lifted myself to carry on my merry way into Bulgaria. I stuck the thumb out and a car stopped almost immediately after. Surely hitch-hiking isn’t always this easy? It was a classy Audi brief, real expensive gear. The Romanian couple inside who I came to now as Eugene and Monica were my new guides into another world unknown. I was shitting myself at first in fairness. Aggressive tones, reluctant to crack a smile and despite picking me up they seemed to be stressed out their box. I told them of my plans and they reacted with bemusement.

”Why do you want to travel alone in these countries?”

For the kick I guess. Monica explained that her work took her all across the region and avoiding Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania would be more than wise. These countries were poor and I knew of the risk but I did not feel it would be as bad as what they were telling me then. I believed in trust, and aswell good people. But they spoke positively only of where we just came from, Romania. Everything in Romania is the best in Europe allegedly. The culture, the food, the people. Cluj Napoca has the best nightlife in the world. The women of Romania are the most beautiful you will ever see. I admired their pride. It was quite similar to Mihail. They were driving straight through Bulgaria and onto Thessaloniki in Greece. Very kindly they offered to drop me off in Petric at the Bulgarian/ Greek border. From there I could go straight to Macedonia. This was never my intention but I could sense a great distaste for Bulgaria and so I pondered my options.

We spoke about Romanian history, Dracula and football. A couple of times we stopped at petrol stations and Eugene even bought me some food and beer. ‘Romanian hospitality’ he called it. We even took selfies and sent them to his friend. Monica was driving, and like a maniac too. Dodging and weaving through traffic and overtaking when she had no right. I didn’t think I would see another day. After a while we had already passed Veliko Tarnovo and on the way I decided to get out at Sofia.

They dropped me at a station just outside the city. Bucharest to Sofia in no less than 6 hours. My intention that morning was to simply cross the border and camp  at a river just over the way. I had surpassed that and then some. Spent 0 on expenses, and some memories to boot. Eugene and Monica didn’t believe my decision was the right one to make but I knew that my perspective from the outside would allow me to feel differently on matters like this. The sun shone brightly as if to say I wouldn’t be disappointed. So I grabbed my bag, said my farewell’s and wandered on down the side of the Bulgarian motorway with the city of Sofia clear in my sights..

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”Sofia.”

We should all feel the rain sometimes.

It’s a particularly dreary Sunday afternoon during this predictable Scottish Summer.
I’m home in Clydebank where I had lived most of my life before.
A mazy cluster of flat and grey houses, all packed in together ‘lit a tin a sardines’.

I don’t mind being home.

After embarking to pastures new I toiled with emotions of longing for familiarity.
It takes a strong-minded person to embrace new beginnings elsewhere with a status quo so far removed from what has always been the reality.

Yet alternating between differing realities can provide great strength in times of upheaval. And being ‘home’ is a great reminder in why it felt so necessary to seek better horizons in the first place. To stay here would be to accept this reality but i’m not
quite sure this one is for me. The process of living requires understanding and growth.
How can one grow in a bleak and introverted universe without seeking a liberation
of the mind from afar? It doesn’t ring true to continue on here, trapped by a prevailing
system engulfed in the ideals of a society built on fear and survival.

I don’t want to survive…

I want to live.

I open my door and the grey exterior fills my sight with the heavy burden of an enduring gloom. The rain comes down and the streets remain quiet but for the comings and goings of the buses and cars. Any other day and the rain would keep me inside. But in doing so would lend a hand to victory for this current reality and repress my beliefs of the nature of this facade. We should all feel the rain sometimes. We should listen to the wind and let it cross us contentedly. We should not allow ourselves to grow easy in a world where difficulty is regarded so negatively. To be at ease is to be comfortable and comfortability breeds pain in restless minds.

For the restless such as I.. This ephemeral lifetime is not meant to be comfortable atall.

Winter Season Thought Track.

Throughout the winter season in Les Saisies, I wrote down some notes in various forms. They are mostly trivial, constructs of boredom, and whether they pass as ‘bloggable material’… i’ll leave that to you.

An empty store,
There’s nothing to do,
Except for stare at the walls.

Outside there are few,
And no attention is paid,
For those minds are fixed elsewhere.

Without customers,
And without work to be done..
What can I, the lonely Ski Man, actually do?

The winter snow storm has beaten us all;
The pistes lay empty,
The roads conquered by snow,
While bitter tourists rue the dashed dreams
and retreat to their chalets.

And I, the lonely Ski Man,
Sit here biding time sanguinely
And writes this poem to express..
Just how f***ing bored I am.

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——————-

He had a dream.
He had many dreams actually.

To see, to hear, to smell. To feel.

He observed videos and pictures online.
He read many books.
He spoke to many people.

It was the beginning of an everlasting adventure.

He was a flower ready to bloom.

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——————

Clouds fill the sky,
The colour of grief.

Those otherwise boastful mountains,
Have become bashful,
Whilst they hide between deep stretches of fog.

She rains down like a determined soul,
Persistent in disrupting the life underneath.

For her skin is white and glorious,
But should she be disrespected,
Her heart will be black and vengeful.

La neige.

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—————–

I often fight with myself about the idea of home.
I’ve come to realise that it’s never going to be where I lived all my life.
Ok you can argue that it’s story and mine are forever intertwined,
But should the place you call home endure you a mountain of pain?
Is home really a place at all?

Wonder entrenches my thoughts now I have strayed away.
My brother called it ‘soul searching’.
Perhaps an expected & unsurprising buzz phrase.
Tell me this, does one find home whilst soul searching?
Or is the soul contaminated, poisoned, by the constructs of our day?

For me this is crucial.
I don’t believe in soul searching.
My soul is always here.
It’s the cleansing and the repairing that I believe is pivotal..
In finding my home.

(Note. I am ginger. And I do have a soul.)

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Appeasing the Masses.

When I began writing my blog I had a vision of what I wanted it to be. I knew all the things I wanted to discuss and to portray. Now, although I would like to apologise for the lack of content released recently, I must refuse.

You see, I don’t want to write for the sake of satisfying my desire to furiously fire out pages of work. It’s robotic, generic and really not authentic. And with the topics I want to investigate I firmly believe they simply deserve more.

The vision of a Wide-Eyed Scotsman is to focus on two separate wider topics without aggressively dividing the posts as such. For one, I love exploring. I get bored easily. I don’t enjoy staying in one place for too long and I can’t begin to comprehend those who choose not to delve further into anything outside of the world they know.

Of course, I understand it.

Maybe it’s true.. if something is not broken, why change it? If someone is happy, why would they feel it necessary to challenge that? Me being me, I don’t believe that has ever been familiar.

As a family we used to visit the South of Spain one week or two weeks at a time. I have some very fond memories of these trips. Some sadly not so fond but mostly (as the French would say) ils étaient très agréables. These were very typical, working-class, Costa Brava affairs; Causing mayhem at the pool while our easygoing European brethren looked on dismayed. Days at the beach often being ruined the moment someone realises the sand is too warm to set foot on. Excursions to Port Aventura with screaming weans who don’t want to wait two hours in the blistering heat to take on a roller-coaster they told their da’ they didn’t want to go on. Or wandering around the typical towns just far away enough from the bedlam ensuing in the tourist spots to feel like ‘the Real España!’   All in all it makes for a very Scottish holiday abroad.

At home all I knew were my surroundings and these opportunities to explore became special. And with the ho-hum trials and tribulations of everyday life being somewhat difficult to digest, finding that sense of gratification I mentioned earlier was to be more bothersome, wearing and complicated than the young me could have ever known. Which brings us onto the second topic..

I’ve always thought of myself as a heavy thinker. That being I think too much. My mother would often describe me as deep. I liked this to begin with. I had a fruitful imagination and occasionally wondered if I could achieve great feats like others such as J.R.R Tolkien. I wanted to create new worlds. But I never persisted and instead engaged in a lifestyle similar to a youngster in Clydebank. Football, the streets, console games and various other trivial things. Family life was also tough which affected the ability to pursue creative ambitions before plaguing my thoughts with impossible-to-answer questions, needless dilemmas and false scenarios. I was never an outgoing person at a young age, resulting in a habit of generally drifting to the side of any attention. I wasn’t confident and rarely felt good enough. My mates would be plodding along well with girlfriends and sporting achievements while I held on with relative insignificance at the rear.

Eventually confidence came with alcohol. A false bravado soothed by an empty promise of society’s way to a better world. As a result I like many others fell into the distraction trap and began measuring myself against the measures of drink I was consuming.

I wasn’t an alcoholic but I had issues. Anything that hurt me during the week would often unfold to a live audience at the weekend filled with those who had no business. Irrational, senseless and downright foolishness my actions would come to be, I sometimes take time to try understand why I acted this way. In my eyes it felt like life had disregarded me and left me at the bottom of a very big pile. I would react with deep frustration and aggression. The negativity in life made me a negative person. These are still issues I tackle today.  I don’t drink nearly as much anymore because I resent what it can do to me or what I can do to others through it. I don’t take drugs other than the prescribed pills i’m given in order to keep me relatively level-headed although there was a time when other influences fueled this illusion of well-being while plotting against me in the midst of my own skin.

This is what I want to address through my writing. I don’t want to bother my audience with weekly updates of information that would otherwise be simple to find in a holiday  brochure. Personally this is important and possibly life-changing. Travelling to me is much more than a status update or a like. It’s a personal project to help myself and to help others. I hold ambitions for the future to change where I come from for the better while gaining the fulfillment I have admired from afar since a time long gone by. I want to discuss things that others can’t or won’t. Recently there seems to be a recurring trend of ‘raising awareness’ and ‘promoting discussion’ without a genuine attempt being truly undertaken to tackle the dangers of our everyday lives. Why? I honestly do not know. There could be a thousand reasons but in the end life goes on and damage prevails while the preachers preach a ghostly prayer.

It’s not acceptable.

It’s helpful to no-one and dangerous for everyone.

The time to act is now.

The Art of Leaving.

Those first steps wreak havoc on a mans curious mind.

To leave was to fare on my own.

Without the loving mother whom I cherish so dear.

To this father of mine I normally keep near.

Of friends turned family and family turned friends, I gave up everything to seek better ends.

———-

For this life has given me enough to move on, amidst great hope that with wisdom I will return.

To complete my life aims I must venture on,

Beyond these grey walls and from these strong bonds.

The continent is vast with opportunities abound.

New experiences lie ahead; sweet lessons to be found.

———-

And so my dear home I give you my word,

Leaving you was imperative to grow.

Your concrete surroundings and your merciless approach,

Sends many into a haste-ridden frenzy.

You tarnish communities through systems of wrong.

Fuelled by a wickedness of a wallet grown strong.

Leaving those in control with filthy hands not yet rubbed.

Callously witnessing a delirium undisturbed.

———-

They say it takes courage to leave all behind.

But I can’t say for certain if I believe this is true.

I see many who stay despite all their woes;

They bravely hold fort, they boldly fight foes.

And thus we can answer our pigheaded question..

Does courage ascend from the people who go?

Perhaps there is depth to our meaningful journey,

But in the end it is from everyone that we see true strength grow.”

 

Thursday, 10th May. 2018.

‘The Art of Leaving’ by Aidan Meehan.

Rue de Dauphine, Lyon.

 

 

Where Am I Now? (Part 2)

 

‘The leafy browns of autumn infused with the retreating grassy greens of a summer gone by. The vast and panoramic background filled with huge mountains which continue to prevail through centuries, perhaps even millenials, of long and drawn out battles with the elements of nature. They tower over the scores of communities which now occupy the deep valleys between. Weathered roads and forests of trees abundant with generations of multiple species who just like their colossal neighbours have fought the good fight in standing their ground and keeping their homes. We as humans fight between ourselves, but it is those which seem forever still who truly know what it means to be alive.’

An excerpt from some notes I wrote back in November when I arrived in France.

After the tumultuous episode I experienced in Megève (discussed in Part 1) I found myself at a crossroads. I had no job. I had lost the confidence I previously shared in being able to find work as a result of my poor French language skills. And I had received some unfortunate news from home that suddenly asked of me which place was more important.

I returned to Scotland for a few days in January. It had probably come at the right time even if for the wrong reasons as the stress was beginning to break me. I’m a bit of a perfectionist which causes me great suffering at times. My romantic notions can be
overpowering which can then progress into some sort of psychological barrier once I take a step back and realize the unrealistic expectations I set for myself. It’s a dangerous trait to acquire and one which I have accumulated over the years, resulting in never feeling quite so content with the achievements I’ve made. And it would be fair to say that before I left home for the first time I put a lot of pressure on myself to settle in my new surroundings almost as quickly as I arrived.

By the beginning of the new year I was tired and empty of hope again. I was ready for giving up completely.

It was a chance encounter however with a funny gentleman which allowed me a renewed energy and willingness to continue. This man is still my boss today and will be for another week when the winter seasons draws to its long-awaited conclusion. I had not long discovered the activity of hitch-hiking and had begun to feel a real buzz for it. The great thing about hitch-hiking is that you’ll never end up with someone who doesn’t want your company (unless their psychos). This naturally means you can get a decent conversation from folk. My partner was working in the resort where I am now while I stayed in the family home at the bottom of the mountain. Thanks to my naivety and excitement of being able to drive the stunning routes that weaved flawlessly through the mountains I managed to damage the car I was using. She is now back in full working order and I have learned my lesson.

 

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‘Baby’

My partner asked me to meet her at her work for an afternoon so we could hang around the resort for a few hours. So I managed to make my way by throwing out the thumb and looking nice enough to offer a lift to. The first driver to stop was Jean-Marie, a young farmer from just outside Geneva. He was a physical contrast of the Swiss city. Billionaire yachts line the docks while the nearby buildings display signs of famous brands such as the supremely expensive Rolex. Switzerland is of course famous for watch-making and the stereotype is utilized thoroughly. Whether that be in the airport or in the area’s of commerce. Jean-Marie was not a typical Genevois.

 

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The Rolex Building, Geneva city centre. 

He was a pleasant man. He spoke lovingly of his flock of sheep, the journey from his Swiss farm to the depths of the French Alps to buy more sheep and he even questioned me on whether there was many sheep in Scotland. I’m not in the business of counting sheep unfortunately but I told him there was (correct me if i’m wrong).

He took me to the next town, Villard-sur-Doron, and sent me on my way. I stood at the side of the road again in search of another generous car sharer. That’s when along came ‘Le Patron’. I didn’t expect him to offer me a job but after speaking together for the rest of the route (with my very poor French) he proposed to me a position in his ski rental shop. We stopped at his store and he took me inside for a tour, showing me the room dedicated to ski equipment. Shoes upon shoes. Rails filled to the rafters with hundreds of skis of different disciplines.

Ski Alpin, Ski Nordique, Randonnée, Telemark..

If I didn’t know anything about this sport I was soon about to.

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‘I wish I could Ski as half as good as I tell people.’

I’m not totally decided on my thoughts around destiny and the concept of events taking place for a reason. The word ‘coincidence’ almost gives me the fear. But for the owner of a business to drive by me at that exact time while I was looking for a job in this area whilst he was in dire need of staff.. well it is funny. And I should add that previous to this I had been looking for work in this area since before my first job without success. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough. He offered me everything I needed. Work, location, and an apartment of my own which I now occupy. It’s small but cosy. Packed but practical. And it means I can wake up 10 minutes before my shift starts.

 

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Piles of snow averaging 2 metres high directly outside the apartment. Claustrophobia.

And since this chance encounter I have been working with some great people, with a beautiful surrounding landscape and an opportunity to experience life as a Ski Man in the French Alps. I never once thought I would be able to say that. But now, it’s another small tale written into my history.

In Part 3 I’ll discuss my own perspective on different aspects of the French culture and what it’s like to be the token Scottish guy in a French Ski resort. For now here’s an example of some of the music shaping my journey so far. Music has always been important in my life and it’s no different now. It took me a while to change my mind but French music has finally started to grow on me.

Enjoy and see you all next week X