How many times have you laid awake at night, tossing and turning, the illusion of sleep being chased deeper and deeper into the night? You lie there, the body fragile with exhaustion, seemingly at the tipping point of sanity. The mind races constantly, no time for idle thought, everything and anything consumes it. Matters so trivial and seemingly irrelevant become so defining, real and uncontrolable that they destroy any glimmer of hope that the exhausted body longs for.
I on many an occasion have found myself here. It's a familiar place, all too real. The feelings, emotions and frustrations were all commonplace for me. Endless nights were spent, some until the sun would rise, contemplating matters of such little and inconsequential importance to my path, that I found myself longing for some form, hell for any form of salvation.
Now every person has some valid method of combatting sleep deprivation, some bear far more weight than others. But here I really want to examine further the concept that I found myself in. I had always believed that this demonic night time curse was the reason for ailment. I'm some cases, sure it was, but this isn't what I am trying to get at. I'm really thinking along the lines of this;
Imagine night time was day, sleep was your waking life. Now how do the tables turn? Imagine we needed no sleep, yet we still deprived our mind and body of the rest it needs. Rest from EVERYTHING. Peace, tranquility, silence, call it what you want. I'm really talking about waking life. Living in the present, free from endless noise, being able to take the noise in everyday life and shut it out. Life inside the mind is not life at all. It is constraining, echoed by the long sleepless nights,
The ability to view the mind as a separate being for the body is truly awakening. We are not just what is in our head. That is not me. It is not who I am nor will it ever be. It simply is discursive, draining and dangerous. My mind is powerful, but it is not everything. It merely is a small part of the person that walks the street today, a tiny part.
Turning off the mental drain is an ability that I treasure. It makes me who I am.
I am still at the very beginning of my journey, yet I find myself so awake. In this state of being awake, I can sleep. Whether this be late at night or during the day, I can sleep. Not close my eyes, dream and wake, but just sleep.
A couple of nostalgic years ago, in times of the golden 4 month summer uni holidays, a group of ten of us decided over an ice cold tusker that our next so called adventure would be to journey up to Kiwayu, on the tip of Kenya's northern coastline.
After weeks of idle and non-existent planning work, with days slowly running out, we found ourselves with precious little hours to get our shit together and get on the road. Packed into 3 cars, with little but the threads on our backs, boxes of fruit and veg and numerous bottles of gin, vodka, koinage and the occasional tonic, we embarked on the odyssey.
Being able to 'borrow' a dhow for a few dollars for the week, manned by the most endearing Captain and his ragamuffin deckhand, we had the privilege of setting sail on a trip that i know i will look back on for many a year to come.
Armed with as many fishing rods as we could muster, a small speedboat, and the grand old idea that we would only eat what we caught, we set off in the early hours of the morning, navigating out of Lamu in the traditional dhow, beer in hand before the sun could rise.
Precious little times in my life can i look back at that sort of freedom. With every worry in the world left stranded back on the mainland, and nothing but golden sub-baked days in remote archipelago islands to look forward to. Freedom of the mind, of the body, and of the soul
Spending nights abroad Kilindini, on deserted beaches, we found ourselves in a place where few people have been before, down the road less travelled, away from the traditional Kenyan tourist trail.
Sailing through the islands, with lines out the back, beers in hand, mellow reggae blowing out of the dusty speakers, everyone lost in the own world, with the silence broken only by the occasional line being stripped.
Setting up camp late at night, with more sand in the tent than on the beach, and with the full moon illuminating the beach, we took to the dhow to witness the most amazing spectacle. Jumping from the bow into the dark water below, the water would come alive in a medley of colours as the body punctured the waters surface. Swimming in a pitch black sea at midnight with yellow glows around everyone in the water. Its magic.
Night at Day
Imagine sitting on one the most spectacular vantage points on this earth, no human habitation in sight, and watching a full moon eclipse, day turn to night. Gathering 8 pairs of sunglasses together, cardboard cutouts, coconut goggles to get a view.
Taking early morning and late evening turns to catch the lunch, we found ourselves happily getting by on fresh tuna sushi for lunch, tuna steaks for dinner, and snacking on red snapper during the day. It really doesnt get much better. Having to throw away plates of fresh tuna on the final day was testament to the bounty of the untouched ocean in Kiwayu.
I could write for years on the experiences we all had, the perspective it made us look at our lives at and the moments that took our breath away, but its easier to just summarise :)
Water, everywhere, deserted beaches, crystal clear water, snorkelling, fish, lights, full moons, no moons, dark moons, speedboats, sailing, laughter, treasure hunts, dhow parties, every sunset different from the last, cold beers, warm beers, no beers, tuna, snapper, music, reggae, house, incessant dance, nothingness, sunburn, eclipses, nudity, dancing, dancing naked, hammocks, donkeys, more hammocks, waterskiing, pirates, camping, sandy beaches, peace, shopping, bargaining, donkey races, milky way as clear as the movies, romance, fighting, homemade driftwood bars, barman, fires, barman in fires, gins, gins and tonics, crab races, mud wrestling, broken bodies, crashing the dhow, drunk captains, hitting sandbars, getting reels stripped, losing lures, making friends, the list goes on and on
I thank each and everyone of the people who came. Times like this come around way to rarely, and i cherish them everyday