Tomorrow is my birthday, a reminder of the day I was born of which marked the kick-off date that would be the a significant time-marker for my life. We all mark time differently in our lives. For everyone, time in its abstraction is punctuated in different ways. It can be expected, like what is experienced during the social phenomenon known as the ‘right-of-passage’, which comes with a greater flexibility for these occasions to become controlled and planned. Others however can be spontaneous, abrupt and their ramifications perhaps deeper and personally defining. Marking this year as a single event in time is a quite complicated task, it seems that the periods are distinct and separate in many ways. Yet it needs to be done in order for myself to make a greater sense of it, to class it as a whole, and extract some observations and ideas from that whole so to speak. We all have ways of concluding a passage of time. Unlike many that throw parties, have drinks with friends, I’ve never seemed to manage. Time is a sensitive thing after all, it can be hard to deal with, it can be overwhelming. And so to me it always has been, and it seems that I always end up commemorating these events by unconventional unplanned methods. I have never abused my birth date for marking an occasion since the times it was celebrated amongst family, by my family, for my family. These days rather I like to spend it simply thinking about who I am, the year that has been. It becomes a time to reflect, an attempt to try and gain a clearer perception of myself and those of others around me, and start to make a rough sketch for the unknown road ahead.
I prefer people not know my birthday date, for some odd reason it makes me anxious. I also suffer from bad timing, with the date inconveniently slotted between the Christmas and New Year period. This time of year has come to be constructed by the Western World as something distant from its humble origins, and for that reason I have ended up despising it. Anthropologically, it is a good example of how humans transform, re-invent and recast the old, to make it resemble and become compatible with the modern. The crux of this modern festivity is the reunification of families for spending time together, which in our so called busy world such events almost never habitually occur. And so this frantic highly charged period for most people can mean that ones own birthday comparatively appears as ordinary in light of these larger celebrations. The lead up to my twenty-first birthday brought on a bit of that self-induced anxiety, the pressure to do something grandiose, to make something of this crucial right-of-passage. In the end I spent it travelling with my squatmate, scorpio and friend Amy to confest. Listening to Reggae, Erykah Badu, David Grey, dumpster-diving along the way with a stop-off at my grandparents house in the country, followed by a late evening swim at the end of a hot summers day in the beautiful Murray River. And looking back, I can’t think how I would have marked the occasion in any other way. I do remember thinking about when, how and where my party should happen, and felt relieved as the date passed me by.
Then I bring myself to this years date, and with it, its own set of reflections, mysteries, perceptions, confusions, resolutions. It is the end of December and I see myself back in Portugal, my third visit to the country this year. It will also be my last visit for some time to come. The reason for my first visit was the result of a few important factors, the route of my flight to Brazil, and to visit Fernanda after a three year gap since we first met in Rio de Janeiro. For this reason I reminisced about Portugal, as something that would bring me a little of what Brazil had in the past. What happened was nothing I could have pre-conceived prior to arriving, and would change to some extent, the next sixth months of the way life happened.
Now the New Year is upon us, the hour of resolution for myself will be tackled in days. Australia is my foreseeable base for the coming year, and that comes as a comforting thought given what has been in both instances a turbulent and stagnant year. I’m back in Porto, the exact city in Portugal where my travelling for 2011 began in January. It is fitting that this location will mark the closing chapter for the same year. This end of year brings about an opportunity to break off with some of the past, leaving those silly immature desires behind as an adequate response to the natural maturing force as part of life’s process. This doesn’t mean to say that the response is to look for something more permanent, concrete, sensible or stable, but rather to unfix the vision that limits ones horizon. By dissecting the year, and analysing its parts, learning is the task at hand. For myself overall, character analysis and all that it demands is a necessary skill when living/travelling, as well making the distinction between the way we perceive ourselves in the new environment, (Integrator) and the way other perceive us (temporary stayer). These affect how we deal with honesty, trust amongst other things. These two can really only be gauged over long periods of time, over many places and social situations, even though we want these things to happen at the pace of which life goes on around us, we can’t.
So, this year, I end in a valley after traversing my numerous mountains. I feel however, that for this period of time, it is sometimes good to end in a valley. It might just be a sign that I need to refocus my view on that mountain again.