Life isn’t about finding yourself – or finding anything. It’s about creating yourself. Bob Dylan said that.
My project in Jenbach is finished and my time in Austria – at least for now – is over. It’s been the pleasure of my life to live and work in Tyrol for the last year, and I’m running out of superlatives to describe how contented I was during these incredible days.
The true success of the project, for me, was working with the lads in the Nachmittagschule during the day. I think that Leonardo and I really built something great during this time, and to call it work seems somewhat careless and inaccurate. We had fun from the first minute to the last, and I believe that we genuinely fostered an incredible almost anarchic atmosphere with the boys, and hopefully imparted a little bit of wisdom along the way. Naturally as a volunteer, you wonder what exactly it is that you’re bringing to the project, if you’re really benefitting anyone by being there. I always tried to bring as much enthusiasm, energy, and good music taste as I could to Jenbach, and I can only hope that in the end I offered half as much as I received in return. I don’t imagine I’ll ever again have a job that I honestly looked forward to each day as much as I did working at Point. This kind of work isn’t just fulfilling or rewarding, you can get that from any job, the true magnetism of the project – and what made it for me entirely unique – was that we really just had so much fun.
One of the things I really wanted out of this year was to live more in the moment, to not always be so fixated on what would, or might happen in the future, or spending time just revelling in nostalgia. I was really concerned with capturing moments, either in my mind, through photos, or in retelling stories. I was terrified that if they couldn’t be remembered or if there wasn’t proof that they had happened, then their intrinsic value would be somehow diminished. What if I lose my phone with all my photos, what if Instagram or iCloud deletes all its data 20 years from now, or I move house and lose a photo album? What happens when I get older, and the memory of these moments begin to fade? When I can’t remember the faces, or the inside jokes, or how happy I felt, or how peaceful it all was? Would that make it a waste of time? Did it really even happen if it wasn’t so impactful that I can still recall every detail? Spending the last year in Austria, one of the most important realisations that I’ve come to is this: The true value of a moment, its worth, its magic, comes as it happens. It doesn’t matter if we remember it, or whether anyone remembers it, or that anyone else even knows it ever happened. The fact that it happened at all, that you experienced it, that you shared that experience with someone else, that’s all there is. Whether you’re present enough to live in the moment at all times, or if you just take a second to indulge in an occasion and appreciate its beauty, or if you only embrace the nostalgic warmth of retrospection, it doesn’t really matter. Observed or not, you lived it, and if in 6 months or 30 years you can’t remember the specific details, just remember that it happened.
It’s almost tragic that I only got to spend 11 months in Tyrol, but during this brief time I’ve composed something almost hallucinatory. Coming back to Scotland feels like waking up from a dream, as if life in Austria was entirely separate from reality. I think that speaks to just how astonishingly surreal my time there was. An almost perfect period that – remembered by anyone or not – did in fact take place. I’ve left with a new sense of confidence and purpose, a new appreciation for the agony and the ecstasy of life, and a deeper understanding of intimacy and connection between people. None of these things were found, they were created.
The world is yours.