I've always been intrigued by the idea of describing a person by just using a picture. No words, nothing that could obfuscate the final judgment, just a single picture and the power of transmitting thousand silent words. So, if I have to describe myself using a picture, I would definitively be this:
This picture has lots of meanings to me and describes quite well who I am, in every shape in which a person can be painted. But what does it mean? I'll come back here later.
Over the years, I've seen myself as an adventurer always on the go; not always physically walking somewhere, but usually traveling through thoughts and things, finding and discovering, and always seeking answers.
In my early days, this brought me to question the whole meaning of my life. I always had the feeling of not belonging wherever I was, of never being at home. I’m never completely at home anywhere - this is how I probably would describe most of my teen years and twenties. This feeling also led me to make some mistakes - to have some regrets that I still carry with me -, but this also threw me on a journey that would completely change my life. And it literally did.
Sometimes I tell myself that at the time it was the only option I had, and probably it was, but there always remains that sadly feeling that you could've done a bit more and don't have missed a few pieces along the way. In the end, though, life always goes on, and so do we.
As the years inevitably passed, I was walking and wandering; I've worked for more than 7 years in the world of cooking, and then almost 4 as a warehouse worker. Meanwhile, I thought I could become a writer - I've still got a pending book to finish - and also a musician (I've played guitar for many years, and I've studied sound engineering for two years).
It wasn't until 2012 that I discovered what I think saved me: the unconditional love for the mountains. I started hiking with my friends and a whole new world appeared before my eyes. The mountain somehow saved me, healed me, and gave me the tools I needed to deal with all my doubts and thoughts. Furthermore, the mountain gave me many answers I'd been seeking; it gave me peace, and it showed me how beautiful the world is in a very pure way. And the most incredible thing is that after all these years - 10 years as I write this - the mountain still evokes the same feelings in me. After all this time? Always.
In the end of 2015 i've started to study Web Development on my own, and I remember those years as the ones who prepare me for the great jump. I still fondly remember those days, when I did a lot of things; i've studied in my free time (before or after work), waking up early in the morning (i still do), always chasing my dreams. And in the mean time, i've always found the time to went to the mountains. Many people told me I was crazy but I deeply knew that it was the right thing to do.
2018 was the year of a fresh start; I quit my job in as a a warehouse worker at Amazon and I took a three month course in Web Development. As of today, I can tell that I made the right decision at the right time.
Three months later, in July 2018, I started a completely new life; after all that time, all that suffering, and all that effort, I had finally made it. When I think about those years I feel that many years have passed since then, and the inner feeling is that I did a very long journey to get here. And it's worth every tear.
But how does the picture fit into all this? When I left Amazon, I felt I needed to do some kind of rite of passage, something symbolic that could spiritually put an end to that part of my life. I've always felt connected to the phrase You can't reach the sunrise without passing through the paths of night. And at that point everything was clear to me:
On April 22 2018, I arrived in Alagna Valsesia at 23pm, I left the car in a parking lot at 1200 mt, and I started walking through the night. It was a cold, clear, and peaceful night when I arrived at 2990 mt at 4 am. And then I waited, silently, admiring the beautiful starry sky that was exploding upon me.
A few minutes before sunrise, at 5:30 am, I started my final ascent to the top; it was just me and the sun.
At the top, at 3024 mt I left my badge I used at work as a symbol of the part of my life I was leaving behind. The man who reach the top of a mountain is not the same that will come back down. This thing always gets me; and this was the price I was paying to move on.
There are no words, no photography that can describe how I felt that night; step by step going up and up and up, feeling every cold breath inside me, alone in the darkness with my thoughts and the delicated whisper of the snow under my steps as the only lonely company. Upon reaching the top, I felt that strange emptiness that comes when you give your all to accomplish something. And finally the moment of tears, those you have kept inside because it wasn't yet the moment to tell the world: I finally made it.
As an Italian Alpinist once said, "In the vibrant and free races on the tormented rocks, in the long and silent talks with the sun, the wind and the blue, in the slightly tired sweetness of the delicate sunsets, I found serenity and peace. And the thrill of that hour spent up there isolated from the world, in the glory of the heights, could be enough to justify any madness". I guess that this can somehow express what I felt that night.
Before you leave I would like to leave you something, a piece of advice, the most valuable thing I've learned through all these years. If you're like me and you recognize yourself in some of these words, or maybe you're just struggling trying to find your own way, trying to figure out how the picture of your life should be, remember that the most important thing is how you look in it. It's not about what's in the background or who's standing next to you, but it's: are you smiling? are you happy? are you good with the choices that you've made? Because if you are, it doesn't matter where you're standing or who's standing next to you; in the end, despite all the wrong brushstrokes, it will still be a good picture.