Other day I stumbled on a little enigmatic article of Contardo Calligaris, Italian Brazilian writer and psychoanalyst, “Art of the Runaway”. Enigmatic at least for me, as I confessed to a dear friend some time later… In this article Contardo raises questions regarding runaways; those situations in our lives of refusal of our past, a revolt (against the family, for example) or a mixture of fiction or forgetting to give new meaning to our existence.
According to the author, “there are runaways that are only distortions of the life that seemed to be designed for us, and there are runaways in which we move away from our history to the point to get lost.” He continues … “these radical runaway, in the effort of wanting to be ourselves, we can end up not being anything at all.”
In a world where our choices, our purposes, the life paths which we choose to walk, formulas and elixirs more or less “miraculous” of how to become successful and be at one with life sell like hotcakes at the counter of the materials and psychosocial well-being groceries of today, I think it is worth reflecting on this puzzle left by Contardo. Anyone who has lived or lives changes and transitions more profound in life shall recognize that in this arduous journey in search of meaning and purpose most often we bear the risk of getting lost along the way, as we were running away from ourselves. In the eagerness of trying to find ourselves we end up lost as paradoxical as it may seem.
In the endless struggle for putting food on the table, which in postmodern times we live, on top of everything else, must be accompanied by meaning and purpose, lose oneself in the hopes of finding oneself it’s a possibility always present. Thus, on the tightrope of life in which we balance ourselves between our circumstances, choices and consequences, our references gain importance as the ballast of our personalities. Without them we can be wrecked, lost and not get anywhere.
Any process of personal transformation implies a leap in the dark, leaving behind what is known, safe; the dismantling of certainties and to some extent of one’s identity. All this accompanied by the firm and deep resolve to dare, to try, to sometimes realize oneself lost, vulnerable, but willing to learn, grow and discover oneself more human once overcome the chaos that often accompanies these turning points in life. To some extent, this is a runaway from self-foisted or passively accepted constraints on a journey into the unknown on their own, not through stories, pictures, books or TV, as states Amir Klink in his book “Endless Sea”. It’s necessary “to travel by himself, with his eyes and feet, to understand what is his. To one day plant his own trees and value them. Knowing the cold to enjoy the heat. And the opposite. Feel the distance and absence of shelter to be well under his own roof.”
Through personal development dialectics there is no way to grow without experiencing the feeling of helplessness, without face what is strange and uncertain, without the solitude in one’s heart of the moments of decisions and difficult choices … Without dropping our many and often unfounded certainties. Put them to the test. This conscious runaway or journey into the unknown, who dwells in us, has the power to make us more human, aware of our limitations, our strengths, our circumstances. In short, aware of our references. Of what is truly part of our identities. The ballast that keeps us balanced in this challenging journey through life.
Photo credits: Luiz Alfredo Santos