A Vagabond Life

Image: Colourful vagabond leaf.

I’ve recently discovered something that has defined my entire existence from a very young age, I’m a vagabond, a natural hobo. Nothing excites me more than psychologically and emotionally backpacking through life never knowing what’s round the next corner or over the next hill.

But it goes a whole lot deeper than that. It’s not purposeless, feckless or meaningless, it is so full of meaning, focus and anger I have been unable to deal with it and, now I’m growing older, that anger is coming in like a remorseless, irresistible, tide.

I have known for a long time that life issues, hidden or denied, can lead to an upsurge and out-surge of violent anger in later life, when we’re more vulnerable and less able to hold it all in check. It’s a strange irony that the driven desire to know what the issues might be, is the same strength with which they can be suppressed and hidden and that’s how it feels in me right now as the rock face trembles and I fear an unstoppable avalanche driven by white hot rage. I’m scared.

I have got so much wrong in life which I thought I’d got right or, at least, managed well. The really big one is dealing with people in a fucked up world, or, more correctly, not dealing with people in a fucked up world.

I’ve lived a reclusive life for most of my life, and if not actually reclusive, wanting to isolate and be left alone. The problem is that there is no part of that that is right and which I haven’t got almost completely wrong. Yet here’s the rub, with the best will in the world, with the thought, time, investment in help and therapy and intense personal strength and determination, it has still taken 70 years to even begin to get it – to get here.

It’s been fantastically hard, but then most of the very best things in life are astonishingly hard and the absolutely worst thing any of us can do is beat ourselves up because we got any of it wrong. That’s what they did at school and the brutal ignorance of that and the years of being held prisoner by an education system that set me up to spend the rest of my life in a factory has been so much a part of the problem. I cannot count the times I was told that I’d look back on my school days as the best days of my life. That’s a recipe for despair if ever I saw one. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to live that life, because when I left school I ran for my life, aided and abetted by the greatest revolutionary youth movement the world has ever seen.

If I learnt anything in school it was determined resistance to the system that put me there without consultation, without my consent and with no concern for my well being at a critically vulnerable age, for eleven awful years. Now, at 70, there is a great deal to learn here; whilst living a reclusive life was necessary, it was also not the solution I was seeking, yet it was still the only way to learn the lessons I needed to learn and the value of life and of those around me and nature.

Right now, this anger that is surging in me, is the music of the dance I must make or find the lyrics of the song I must sing. It’s necessary, but it will pass, but this is clear, my reclusive days are over, the system has not won, and people are not to be feared, they are life in which beauty, love and friendship live and persist.

There may come a time when I will thank those who held me captive and did me so much harm, because without them I would not be where I am now, having learnt lessons they provoked but in no way intended. That’s a paradox for another day, but, till then, I have need of my backpack, boots and the road as there is still a long way to go on this journey I love so well.

Keith Lindsay-Cameron. 25 July 2021.

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