On this lazy Sunday it was suggested by my household members, X and Y, that I see about moving to a commune in Goa at some point in the next 5 years. It has everything that appeals to me: white sandy beaches, clear waters, yoga classes, good food – the works. Yet for some reason, maybe it’s because I’ve seen the DiCaprio film The Beach and enough Charles Manson documentaries to last a lifetime, it didn’t appeal to me. There’s something that seems incredibly odd about it and the whole situation falls into my own uncanny valley. Sure, it would be idyllic. I would sit about most days reading stoic works and discovering Taoism (which is another post in itself), basking in the sun like a fat bastard iguana. So what’s holding me back? Am I so attached to grim old England and it’s people that I can’t imagine being so far from it and them. Or is it fear? A cosmic horror of the unknown: what if I get there and don’t like it and there’s no turning back?
There’s a phenomena called Paris Syndrome commonly experienced by particularly Japanese tourists who visit France. With Paris being so hyped as the city of love and Western sophistication, the reality is so overwhelming to some that it can cause deep psychological trauma. They experience a number of symptoms commonly associated with schizophrenia.
Now, I’m not saying I’m fearful of such a thing, because that’s not a reasonable thing to worry about. Perhaps it’s just the Taurus in me, stubbornly clinging onto my roots and being unchangeable in the face of what could be a blissful experience. But do any of us need a blissful surrounding to have a blissful experience? Even from the foundations of stoicism, a core belief is that fulfilment can only be found from within. I could find myself in Goa, sweating my arse off, curling my back into all sorts of yoga shapes to try to be one with the commune and be entirely miserable.
Happiness is not a place.
Perhaps that’s why the COVID-19 Lockdown and the subsequent sequels haven’t seemed to bother me.
“Men seek retreats for themselves – in the country, by the sea, in the hills – and you yourself are particularly prone to this yearning. But all this is quite unphilosophic, when it is open to you, at any time you want, to retreat into yourself. No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind…” – Meditations 4.3
No matter how far you run, the finish line is always where you started.
I know this post is short, I did tell you in the title it’s a lazy Sunday…