We haven’t been talking for a while – in fact, ever since that letter I forgot to send five years ago and found today, carefully hidden in-between the nobly yellowing pages of Stendhal’s book. As in many early teenage friendships, there was little genuine attachment but seeking some security – nonetheless, I feel that on that day five years ago we were on the same page.
I was extremely lonely then, trying and failing to find someone speaking the exact same language of burning teenage concerns stemming from the desire to preserve individuality. Like anyone substituting interactions with inner monologues, I managed to develop a complex, somewhat pre-Copernicus, mentality of being the central and single most intricate element of the universe that the reality revolved around. A little Robinson built an entire civilisation in my mind – shaped by some books, some writing, and some amateur reflections – which nobody was allowed in for fear of misunderstanding. I was kind and empathetic; yet, I treasured that personal model of the universe as a secure resort in the event of failing to fit in in any of the outside world. As such, everything that could endanger the order in the place I developed where things worked ‘as they should’ was excluded.
Sheltering from the criticisms and fearing to change, I developed a mental Lobstein syndrome – and soon found myself trapped into loneliness. Building relationships was clearly a conflicting objective. For a long time, I was seeking some sort of company, place or setting that would be warm, comfortable to come back to and living up to my ideologies. ‘There is no home as such’, said one of the lines in the letter, ‘which enables me to move; yet, when I do want to stop, I don’t know what to look for’.
In retrospect, it could have been the music school; detached from the rest of the world, it resembled a collective meditation of those, who, having given up on words as means of communication, let the music speak. No artist is bred by inner harmony – music felt as the safest form of expression, as it can only be understood by the like-minded. In my playing, my teacher spotted anything that needed to be seen, like undersea rocks in crystal-clear waters. I was translated, and in her comments I found reassurance that it was acceptable and in fact okay to be someone like myself. Moreover, a realisation of the greater purpose – to reach perfection in the art that, by definition, has no ceiling – drew a clear guidance of what to aim for, whilst the progress acted as a confirmation along the way.
The journey was challenging, and yet I felt certain and in place. Nevertheless, I should not miss it, like a former apprentice is not supposed to miss learning, the sole purpose of which was to transition to the following stage. Cultivating commitments can distract one from feeling detached, but provide no remedy.
Piano remains my secure resort, like a temple for a disillusioned believer, in times of doldrums and uncertainty – but living in a shelter hardly ever tastes of life.
Without external injections, thoughts circulating in my head produced in-depth but yet repetitive, stagnating and hence increasingly depressing insights. This is when I decided to start my journey of a needy introvert: from a thinker, to an observer, to a participator. Presence of a conscious self proved burdening when I was trying to make room for exploring, truly reading and learning – with it, I could only genuinely understand as much as my biases allowed me to accept. Give up on your expectations to untie yourself – everybody is a snowflake that cannot possibly have a prescribed stencil that would exactly fit their carefully-designed identity.
There is little to the concept of ‘belonging’ other than being possessed by your own haunting need to be completed. It is not being homeless but being a wanderer not searching for a home that sets you free.
An experience of moving abroad from few years’ before is a seemingly trivial metaphor: if you want to be understood, learn the people’s language but do not try to find someone speaking yours. This may not be the recipe to nurture a genius in you – if you want to walk a unique route, go alone. Yet, if you want to go far – learn from the others.
Dear Stendhal’s book friend, I wrote a lot for you on that day five years ago. How are you doing?