Traveling inside myself is like traveling the outside world. When I started traveling the outside world by myself I was 17 years old. I’d keep a daily journal. The first journey by myself brought me 500 kilometres from home, destination Paris. The world opened its gates. It was thrilling and exciting. Journaling was a way of digesting the impressions. It was overwhelming and wonderful to experience the far away ‘outside world’. What left the deepest impression was to be making the decisions all by myself. Where to go and what to do being fueled and led by me as if I were some sort of personal tourist guide, pushing myself forwards and ahead. The world and its opportunities appeared magnificent and very big. Everything, every turn treasured a chance not to be missed, worthwhile to explore. Keeping track of my impressions by writing them down enabled me to contain and integrate some of it into an entity I perceived as my life. The entries in my journal were factual without much words of thought around the events I kept track of. I wrote about the things I did, the things I saw and the people I met.
Forty years later, almost as if I had seen, done and heard it all, I start freeing up time to sometimes turn away from this outside world. Am I on my way back home? What happens feels like some naturally induced focus on myself. More specific, it’s paying attention to the inside of myself. It started more or less as a luxurious past time, about 10 years ago. I’d pride myself if I’d achieved seizing the time to meditate or had gotten myself to do some exercise. But in due course this ‘luxurious past time’ has become a necessary counter balance for my life in the outside world and for the lives from the loved ones around me. We are all caught up in the treadmill called daily life. We identify with its pleasures, set backs, triggers and rewards. We identify with our loved ones around us and sometimes even with the weather. But what happened to identification with ourselves?
I don’t know how the change happened. It went unnoticed. But at a certain instance I realized that traveling inside had become more compelling, seductive and enticing then running, succeeding or striving in the world outside. I started to make diary entries about what I met inside myself, be it a thought, an emotion, a resistance or an opening. My first journal was a lovely little Moleskin notebook. Its cover adorned with a Chinese lacquer like print of gold and iris blue flowers. It lasted 10 years before all its pages were trodden. It sure was only in rare cases I instinctively felt like making an entry. The very first one I made in 2008 said:’I feel, I feel, what you don’t feel’. A variation on a children’s game called ‘I spy I spy with my little eye’. In Dutch translated as ‘I see, I see, what you don’t see’. Little did I know this entry marked the starting point of what was to become the revisiting of my solitary travels. The journey inside had begun.
Meanwhile I make entries almost daily. Everyday I am curious to find out about the single word or the combination of words that surface in an empty mind and I am eager to write them down. It helps me digest and integrate the artefacts that stem from my inner sense of being into what I perceive as my life. I continue using special little Moleskin or Paper Blanks note books for it. It’s an attachment. I like it and allow myself to spend money on them. After the first one that lasted 10 years, I filled another 3 or 4, picking my entries and words carefully. Sitting down and closing my eyes enables me to turn away from the sometimes hectic, sometimes very engaging and sometimes just very simple monotony of daily life. Keeping a journal of the journey inside integrates it into my daily life. Instead of turning away from it as if it’s an escape from it.
I like to invite you. Not to join me on my journey. I like to travel alone. But I like to invite you to start your own journey. The destination is unknown. And it’s exactly that, the lack of a known destination, which makes the journey in itself so amazingly wonderful.
It works like this:
Close your eyes
Let your thoughts flow and start to look at them as an outsider
Distance yourself from their engagement
When the noise of your thoughts has thawed look into the emptiness they left behind
Catch the first word that comes up
Write it down
Start your meditation or exercise practice
We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we’ve only got one life – Confucius
*) Dalida was considered an icon during her lifetime, her suicide led to an image as a tragic diva and singer. Dalida is the best-selling and the most award-winning French performer. She holds the world record for the song with the most weeks at the top of the music chart. Selling 170 million singles and albums, she received more than 70 gold records and was the first singer to receive platinum and diamond discs.