Bart Och - Travel Journalist

After returning from Iceland, for a long time, I couldn’t find myself in everyday life. Exhausted and inhumed by the dread of going back to work, I lay in bed for a couple of days. When I finally got up, I saw that the world was functioning without any changes, and my absence had no influence on it. Perhaps humility is the ability to accept that we can’t influence everything. It is, ultimately, acceptance of how small an element of the universe we are. Maybe the idea that we are supposed to change the world is an illusion. Maybe, it is the world that changes us. Except, I couldn’t function in this world anymore.

It was already autumn. My backpack slumped on the floor under the bed. It had been there for a while, dusty and lifeless, waiting. Once again, I wanted to quietly slip out the front door. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I didn’t want to cause a scene. I just wanted to leave with no plan of coming back, no ticket that would promise my return. As the wind blew and the roads sank beneath the thick blanket of red and yellow leaves, I was overcome by a feeling that this shoebox made with walls and beams, this place I used to call home, didn’t feel like home anymore. So, in pursuit of happiness, in search of utopia, I got rid of most of my possessions and my flat, I booked a one-way flight to India, packed my bag and left.

Today, it still amazes me that people – that I did too – find all that stuff even remotely interesting. School: getting As or getting Ds. College: getting in or dropping out. Carrer: having or not having. And then, eventually, before you learn what truly matters in life, people insist to put things in numbers or to put numbers on things. Money – how much. Car – how fast. Relationship – how long. Home – how big. It is all so boring. Everyone is demented with the mania of owning things and constantly quantifying everything. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too.

What is home anyway? A structure that monumentalizes a person’s wealth and status? A place where we grow up? That is a house. A home isn’t where you come from; it is where you belong. Some of us travel the whole world to find it. Some of us realise that home is where the heart is.

I no longer have a place or a country I call my own. I don’t have a job I would call a career. I don’t even have an up-to-date business card. I am a writer and photographer working remotely, usually in my pyjama bottoms and socks or, if I’m feeling formal, my shorts and sandals. I travel non-stop. I have learnt to pack in a jiffy and to accept life’s many vagaries: the surprising twists and turns along the way. They are nothing different from a missed train or a crappy bunk-bed.

Over the years, I have had so many people ask me, “When are you going to settle down? Don’t you want to have a home?” The thing is, I am not homeless; I am just houseless.

Leave a reply