My counsellor told me that I am addicted to adrenaline. Like Michael Schumacher, who retired from racing Formula 1 cars only to have a near-fatal skiing accident. He missed the thrill, the buzz, the risk, only to replace it with another, more destructive substitute.
But it’s not adrenaline addiction. What I miss is touching the reality of being human. Living cross-culturally on mission keeps you tapped into the primal. What life lacks, being back in the UK presently, is the everyday raw volcanicity of ‘edge.’
You know how Earth has a core of molten lava, covered by a mantle, and then finally an outer crust? Wherever there is a tapping into the core; fault lines, volcanos, hot springs – you have the most danger, but also the most drama. Vivid scenery, fecund soils, alongside catastrophic potential. In places where mankind lives closer to the core there is both risk and power.
The human experience is similar. At our core there is a rawness, a primal force, the drive to survive. We touch this when we nearly die, when we are afraid, when in high-risk situations. Some people live close to this place all their lives; those in dangerous or volatile situations, those for whom death is a present shadow.
In comfortable countries, we have a lot of mantle and crust keeping us at a safe distance from such primal reality. We are well-buffered from hunger by our fat-reserves and from bankruptcy by our overdrafts. When the occasional geyser of bereavement or sink-hole of crisis appears, we cover it up to return to normality as soon as possible.
The fact that of 150 Psalms, 60 are classified as “laments” shows that tapping into the primal is a pretty common part of the human experience. That’s a high ratio!
The point is, if you have lived on the side of a volcano, even if you have been caught in an eruption, you are likely to find the lowland plains safer, yes, safer perhaps, but blander, duller, plainer. To trade volatility for stability is also to forfeit creativity and ingenuity.
My heart is in the East, and I am at the end of the West
How can I taste what I eat, how can it be sweet to me?