Saturday, 20 December 2014

It Was All Whirlwind, Heat and Flash

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The media bombards us with information and images, telling us that life is short and that we should live each day like it’s our last and constantly be in a state of adventure seeking. However, life is the longest thing that we will ever experience, we have a roughly 1% chance of dying today- so it is likely not your last- and maybe we’re too tired to seek adventure and would rather snuggle up for a TV marathon instead. 

I scroll through my Instagram feed gripped with a kind of paranoia that everyone else is doing more than me and that that consequently means that they are leading more fulfilled lives. I see photographs of exotic locations, fun days in sunny parks with friends, dates in cute cafes and other such FOMO inducing aesthetics that bring to question, ‘are these people living their lives more/better/in a more worthwhile way than I am? Should I be outside trying to replicate these adventures?’

I have never been frightened of seeking adventure and find leaving my comfort zone quite thrilling. When I was six years old, sitting in my grandmother’s sundrenched back garden in the middle of summertime family get-togethers, my older cousin would ask me if I wanted to ‘go on an adventure.’ Of course I did. I had been waiting all day for him to ask me that question. We would leave the garden through the back gate and walk amongst the suburban neighbourhood of garages and corner shops. Although walking round the block no longer holds the same tantalising fascination that it did ten years ago (unless I am listening to ‘Pure Heroine’ whilst I walk), I like to think of it as a metaphor for the more adventure seeking parts of my personality now.

A few years ago, instead of giving up something for Lent, my friend and I decided to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity for 6 weeks. We attended Spanish film club though neither of us studied Spanish and we entered a school gym competition (and came second!) though I’m hopelessly inflexible. Somehow I have tried to carry this philosophy through to today.

Adventures in books and films have an unshakable glamour about them that is often difficult to translate into everyday life. Going on a walk somewhere different and letting yourself get lost for a few hours or driving with no destination can feel like an adventure. But where do we draw the line between healthy escapism and adventures where the main appeal lies in their danger? Teen years are a time when this kind of adventure appeals the most. It is a way of escaping the clutches of routine, asserting independence and a way of coping with everyday adolescence stresses and struggles. Every new experience can seem like a new adventure. However, in this mindset it can be easy to glamourise terrible situations such as engaging in sexual activity that you’re unsure about or taking drugs just because you want to know what it feels like. At a party last summer, my friend and I lay down on the grass and looked at the stars and likened our situation to Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’. In reality, we were both just a bit drunk and had leaned out of a game of spin the bottle in which we hoped we wouldn’t have to kiss anyone gross. I have started to sneak out in the middle of the night just for the sake of it. One time a friend rang me when I was ready for bed so I got changed to meet her in the middle of the night but I left still wearing my retainer. Perhaps these factors make such adventures less glamorous, but at the same time they make them much more epitomising of teenage years in a nostalgia ridden way.

These are things I have been thinking about a lot recently because there are a lot of things that I would commit to under the pretence of adventure in order to escape the singing regret that I fear will grip me as I lie on my death bed some day in the future. Adventure is definitely an important way to feel free and the text on the cover of Sonic Youth’s ‘Goo’- I STOLE MY SISTER’S BOYFRIEND. IT WAS ALL WHIRLWIND, HEAT, AND FLASH. WITHIN A WEEK WE KILLED MY PARENTS AND HIT THE ROAD- still sounds edgy and exciting to me but, in reality, killing your parents wouldn’t be that great. I’d rather go for a walk or something.

As published in Issue 4 of Cherry.

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