Key words: travel couching, psychotransgression, border experience, control, Maslow`s pyramid, freedom
I`ve always admired an archetypical wanderer, a tough man travelling far away with his small sack on his shoulder and ragged dusty clothes.
The one who sets a fire with the sunset and looks deeply how flames turn crackling branches into an ash. Falls asleep on the rough ground, eased by tranquilizing sounds of the night and waking up with the sunrise and bird singing. Respectful guest in the land of local deities or forest nymphs. Such image…so simple, but so meaningful and transcendent.
Nowadays people go camping and hiking. They go wild, driven by unconscious desire to find themselves in the arms of mother nature, to sense and absord its deep-rooted power and finally to experience adventure. Over-equipped with the latest, utralight, super durable professional gear, with tones of food and water they are ready to spend a night on the foreign land. Heavily armed to shield up from any undesireble feelings such as cold, thirst or hunger. Once their crave for being in absolute control is appeased, they can fully enjoy their adventurous night under the stars. Oh yes we – hi-tech urban society – are control freaks indeed. More than ever we strive to control everything around us, make it user-friendly. We want the world to be absolutely stable, predictable and safe. If we need an adventure and adrenaline we simply install one of widely available postmodern social `apps`. Can be paintball, tour hiking or riding on the elephant in Africa as one of all-inclusive hotel attraction. Tested, certified and approved. Virtually no risk involved. Instant noodles that will make you full for a while but with no nurtitions and with plenty of side effects after over-dose.
However there is a price for our perfectly stable and predictable surrounding. Such price it is giving up freedom and creativity.Great neurotical fear of unknown and pain suppresses our innate need for creation and exploration. It deafens the urge for freedom in us. Just like an eagle in transparent cage. We are perfectly trained to be successful and effective within the frames set by ourselves and society. We are able to experience broad range of emotions not even getting close to the borders of our cognition. It`s our inner mental world, theme park of our mind, guarded by neurotical need for absolute control and safety.
Only a few of us dare to get to borders of their kingdom and to cross them. So called border experience, that reframes us. It`s like the injection of mental freedom and creativity. Gives us a new perspective and opens new ways of seeing and interpreting the world and ourselves. That`s exactly where creativity lies. Great artists, thinkers, designers, explorers they discovered that Saint Graal. They all make a transgression, or psychotransgression (to honour Kozielecki`s theory) of their barriers of cognition and experience. They open their eyes to see world in uniquely.
The road to `The great wall` of our mental kingdom is exactly where automatic, programmed thinking ends and insight begins. When we stop runnig our civilisation race, feel the wind on our cheek and let the flow lead us. It`s when we manage to forget for a moment who we are, what we do and put away our backpack of life stone expieriences.
It was the beginning of spring in Beijing and the start of hiking and camping season. Together with my partner Cass, we decided to go on two day hiking trip to nearby mountains. Unusually, for the first time in my life I didn`t prepare for it. Just little food, little water, no tent, neither sleeping back or matress. I felt a strong urge to experience how would it be just to go, led by chance luck and intuition. To have no plans, no back up and sleep whereever possible. To accept whatever fate will bring and have no expectations. To come to platon`s idea of utopian ultimate traveling as close as possible. To experience the life of my beloved archetypical wanderer.
Motivated by curiosity of `what is behind that mountain` and `where this god forsaken small path goes` we skipped the official entrance to the park and chose a `shortcut`. After hiking for a while and not seeing any mountain huts we decided to stay overnight on the roof of one of the guard towers of The Great Wall. We brought stone blocks to make a fire place and surround our sleeping place,collected brushwood and straw from nearby fields to serve us as matress and for our fireplace. Our preparations were finished just by the sunset. Despite being dirty, tired and hungry we felt like the king and queen in our castle. Meeting humans` archetypical need to build aire shelter was a fantastic feeling. Our fire-fried dinner wasn`t so rich. Just a little food and water….but that`s what we had wanted…unplanned and unprepared staying in the mountain.
Night turned out to be colder than expected so we made a small stone fireplace just next to our sleeping straw. Although I spent the whole night guarding fire,finding new branches and bathing in smoke from wet leaves I genuinely enjoyed it. A strong wind and dark thick clouds at 4 in the morning unsettled us. At that moment we realised how strong and unpredictable nature can be and how little we can do to prevent it. And all we could do was to face it. With no fear, and no hesitation. Just do what should be done here and now. Peacefully and calmly in mind, firmly in action. Wind stopped, the sun rose over horizon and new day has begun. We were tired, thirsty and hungry but cheerful and full of joy. Thankful to the nature for no rain, branches for our fireplace that let us not feel cold during the night.
It is not about the phisical limits that we tested, but mental one. It`s about the ability to go with the wind, to have faith that whatever happens we can face it, to have no expectations and simply enjoy time.
In my case the act of psycho-transgression here was to realise how little we need in our life to feel safe and to cope with ongoing challenges. One could interpret it in terms of homeopathy. The slight increase of the risk,instability and shortage of food, drink and shelter in life immunized my mind. According Maslow`s Needs theory, basic needs i.e. physiological and safety ones must be met to let the person meet the upper, more advanced ones. Everyone has its own starting level of feeling safe and secure to be able to develop themselves and explore. That morning after night on the guard tower I discovered how little I need to live. This experience freed me and let me enjoy my life and conquer the world more freely, passionately, independently and courageously while having less.
One doesn`t need a wild, rough and risky trip to get to the border of their cognition. It`s not the point. The point is to dare to face its own limitations and fears, stop acting mechanically like a sheep and go with the wind (accept the things they are and have no expectations) and finally listen to its own deep-hearted needs. Wherever it will take us, the results will open new world for us. World of being more free, conscious and strong.