16. Dropped mask of normality

Fuzzy Psybient blasted out of my earbuds. Discreetly I rolled with the beat, the feet went up and up subtly. With closed eyes I traveled through all kinds of striking patterns and visualizations. Distant places, ‘exotic’ states, unknown spaces, all sorts of things passed by. I was completely gone for a while: gone within my world, gone within another dimension. This amplified version of reality went on when I opened my eyes. Gracefully flapping trees and ever-changing cloud formations to stare at. Pure inhalations of oxygen and the super-soft grass to lie on. The warmth of the Earth and the recognizable emotions of passing animals. I felt intense joy. The park was even more beautiful than before. Everything was comprehensive, captivating and interconnected. Numerous ‘layers’ of reality were directly projected. Abstract truths were so evident in one glance. Fascinated I witnessed a captivating freak show from the front row seat. It went on and on. I paid close attention while making notes, following the style of George Carlin.

With great reluctance I left my spot to take a pee. I cycled through the woods in awe, imagining if this was a real-life video game. Maybe I’m stuck somewhere on a home-trainer with VR-goggles, or in the Matrix. Fake or not, the need felt very real. With shaking legs I dropped my folding bike and ran into the bushes. Halfway through the act I realized I was standing in a bush of nettles. Someone cycled past me at this very moment. Skillfully he steered clear of the Mean Machine, which was still in the middle of the cycling lane. On an unmistakably mocking tone he (sort of) asked if everything went well. I loudly replied that it couldn’t be any better and burst out in laughter. Somewhat perplexed he looked at me, just as long until he was out of sight. Bloody great. Here I was, all alone. With burning shins I concluded that this day couldn’t get any better. 

His reaction is understandable. How are you supposed to react when someone’s mask of normality falls off? With ridicule, rejection, disbelief? Do you avoid, admire or compliment the person, or do you just leave it? Dealing with such an unusual situation isn’t in the manuals. It’s not told during birthdays, introductions or training courses. That makes the awkwardness so characteristic. It’s something I experienced first-hand after announcing my third world trip. Even unspoken reactions are noticeable; other people’s doubts can be sensed. I’m used to some misunderstanding or miscommunication as a quirky guy. Yet it bothered me. I wrote a brutally honest story about my motives and beliefs, which I then shared with others. This public acknowledgement of my abnormality mainly led to understanding and respect. Some reacted like that cyclist, or in a similar fashion. They were unable to take a stance with the brutal honesty, shameless vulnerability and psychological dissection I had shown them. It’s understandable because It’s not easy. That’s why I took it into account. Even ‘knowing’ someone for years offers no guarantee of reaching the same wavelength. Unrealistic expectations mostly lead to useless disappointments.

I returned to my trusted trip-spot in high spirits. I was still in a state of reminiscing about the encounter with the stranger. But I was laughing in particular about my life, which had gradually turned into a big joke. Unshakably ‘doing your own thing’ for years leave deep traces in the long run. Gradually my (underlying) ‘crazy’ side surfaced, slowly but surely. It’s a liberated ‘self’ that feels little with the ‘ordinary’ lifestyle or conventional bourgeois life. An unconventional misfit in a world in which marrying, living together, having children, buying houses or building careers is the norm. Many function well on the autopilot – on a foundation of predictability, routine, comfort, securities and familiarities. This simply doesn’t apply to me. In my case, it’s a magnetic counterpart that repels me. Constantly I’m pushed aside, straight into a spectators’ seat on the front row. And that’s totally fine. This spectator empathizes and participates passionately in his own way. 

I treated myself to psychedelic truffles (from a Dutch smartshop) to celebrate this milestone. The timing couldn’t be better. Exactly half a century after the moon landing, I plunged into the deep cosmos. It was my grateful tribute to all those brave space pioneers. My ground-breaking moment came fifty years later. This was my day before departure, my day of transition and truth. Unlike previous times, I left the fallen mask on the ground. It embodied all the (inner) conflicts that constricted me. People are often their own worst enemy, and I wasn’t an exception on that rule. Rising above it comes with struggle and effort. Suffocating expectations were shoved aside, fixated dotted lines were erased and invisible boxes were breached. I already dumped various widespread ideas of how adults are ‘supposed’ to live, think or act on the landfill. The remainder of restrictive beliefs and worldviews were thrown overboard in that park. Lovely. With rejoice I recalled the times in which I felt the necessity to live a ‘normal’ life. Deep down I knew it was against my better judgement. This is the nature of the beast. Time after time the desire for diversity and adventure was stronger than the so-called sense. This dormant tension gave way once I truly accepted myself in all my imperfections, depths, traits, contrasts, colors and aspects. Consequently, I carried on with what was already going on: wandering through life as unbound, open-minded and versatile as possible. This is my deck of playing cards to juggle and play with. It’s no longer an experimental phase of life at this point, but a lifestyle that’s truly mine. One that’s worthy of my true self. Worthy of my personality, passions, interests, creativity and talents. That’s the magical mix to strive for. It’s the code with which we can do the most for ourselves and our loved ones. The mix that adds so much more color and detail to mankind’s grand adventure, the code that makes life way more interesting.

Hopefully I’m doing evolution an excellent service with my modest role.

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