It was the summer of 2016. We were driving along a quiet country road in Alentejo, talking about how nice the shops are in Lisbon. There was a line of trees ahead, and suddenly I realised I was pushing on the brake pedal with all my might, having passed two intersecting lanes of traffic going at well over a 100 km/h.
We screeched to a stop in the median strip, a couple of metres away from the other two lanes of lethal traffic. A stunned silence and the smell of burning rubber filled the car. There were more cars around us than we’d seen for days altogether. Jesus Christ, my thigh was still cramping from the effort eight hours later.
In the weeks leading up to that moment in a Portuguese crossroads, I had had a restless feeling, something growing inside me and willing expression. I had known for years that I wanted to write more, but was held back by a sense of helplessness. When people asked me why I didn’t just go ahead with it, I would answer: “Because I have nothing to say”, and would receive incredulous looks. But that is how it felt: in order to write, I would have needed to become a wiser, more complete person.
That brush with death on the Alentejan highway burst the dam. What does it matter that I Do Not Know? That I am here now, as I am? If I do not share my thoughts, world view and the learnings that have helped me on my way immediately, will I ever get the chance later?
Many of the things I wanted to write were based on personal experience. Some of those experiences were embarrassing and painful. They are tales that don't make for a silky smooth public image. But that doesn't really matter either. There comes a moment when personal memories are absorbed into the sea of The Story, the life force common to us all. Their primary value is in the learnings they can give, and it's not important who they happened to anymore.
The greatest joy comes from participating in the pageant of life as fully as we can. The relief and bubbling happiness I feel every time I approach this computer in the early morning more than makes up for moments of fear and self-consciousness. Creating is like being in love. Why would we want to deny ourselves anything as good as that? We all have something that makes us feel more alive, that enables us to give and receive more. Better to go for it, and be quick about it.
Besides, writing is a conversation, particularly in this colourful, cacophonous, exuberant digital world we inhabit now. Let’s talk.