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Broken Bridges

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Man on the Hill

Three years ago, a man sat on a hill in Wales and wondered why he wasn’t living the life he’d always dreamed of. He lived in a city where he didn’t belong. He loved a man who didn’t treat him very well. He had a job he couldn’t stand. He couldn’t get anyone to take his writing seriously and, yes, he had come to believe that he’d never be good enough. That it wasn’t going to happen, not for him. That he’d squandered his youth and all of his chances. That he’d wasted his life on a pipe dream.

Up on that hill, the man wondered what the hell he was living for anyway.

He made a decision. A promise to himself. With nothing left to lose, he decided to try to change things. To find the courage to say, ‘No’.
No to everything.
It was that simple. He was curious to see what would happen.

And it was like a forest fire.
He ended his relationship of ten years.
He told his boss, ‘Stick it’ and he moved to Nowhere, Wales.
He ended up living in a caravan on the beautiful Welsh coast and he finished writing a book.
He was getting better at it, you see? Saying, ‘No’ without an apology and without justification. Exorcising anything and everything in his life that didn’t make him happy.
And he poured everything he had into his book.
‘One last shot,’ he told himself. ‘And then you’re done.’

The book was called ‘Chasing Embers’. Looking back now, the fiery motif doesn’t surprise him. Because he was breathing fire. Then he landed an international book deal and his world flipped upside down.
A seismic, life-changing event.

Aflame, he ran. He ran to Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Hong Kong and Istanbul. He ran to Spain and later, he ran to Puerto Rico. In time, he tumbled back to England with another book complete. A better book, he thought.
And then, after a long summer writing and walking in the Kent countryside, he returned to his beloved Barcelona, his adopted, spiritual home.
He stopped running. Started doing something else instead.
And he finished another book.

There had been a big fire, however. What on Earth was left of him? Not much, to be honest. The man on the hill had all but burned away. He’d burned away in breathtaking cities. On rattling trains through the desert. On misty, sacred mountaintops. In deserted temples. On illuminated dance floors. On the viewing decks of skyscrapers. In the cat-haunted backstreets of the bazaar. In subways choked with refugees. On empty tropical beaches. Among a host of musical, wine loving angels on the road. In world class casinos. In bars where famous writers drank themselves blind. And yes, in cowboy’s arms.

The fire settled into constant embers. The man on the hill was gone now and there was a stranger standing in the mirror. One he rather liked. One who could look himself in the eye and smile in the morning and feel that he’d grabbed his dream. One who lived in a place he adored. With a fantastic career. Two fantastic careers! With dynamic, heroic and fascinating friends. With love.
A world had ended somewhere. Reduced to ashes. Blown away by the wind.

Maybe, the man would tell you, you should go and find your own hill. There’s one in Wales that he could point you to. It might be deserted now. It might not.
But one thing's for sure. It doesn’t have a certain man sat on it wondering why the hell he’s alive.

Thank you.

JB

Author's own photo. 

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