A wonderland of topsy turvy norms, and a warped surrealist painting

It’s stupid o’clock in the night when I start to write this post. I’m not suffering so much from jet lag, as from a kind of social adjustment problem.

My bubble has burst. My seven month bubble in a tropical haven, a Wonderland beyond Alice’s wildest dreams, where we danced round bonfires to the beat of tribal drums, sucking Nature’s sweet nectar straight out of fresh coconuts like thirsty nymphs. It’s back to reality and my oh my, it’s a struggle to adapt to civilisation.

7 months ago, how vividly I remember that Friday afternoon, I walked out of my office with a strange feeling in my chest. Like I was closing some kind of big chapter of my life. Like I was not going back. I remember telling this to a lover over brunch on Sunday morning. It was a disappointing and overpriced brunch, in one of those trendy converted warehouse cafés, as if hinting to me that the time had come for me to pierce through the illusions of London’s hipster scene and dive right into an exploration of real authenticity.

A few days later, I would catch a flight to Costa Rica. The whisperings of the Coronavirus phantom had arrived in north Italy, but it all seemed quite distant. My parents, who were in Lombardy, assured me they were fine. We were all shrugging our shoulders and thinking things would pass before the next full moon. A colleague had returned from China just the other week, and we’d all joked, rather lightheartedly, that he had better not infect us. No one could have predicted the scale of the pandemic that would come to rape the world.

6 months ago, I was due to fly back to London. But that flight was cancelled. The cancellation notice came after a panicky week, as the sh*t was hitting the fan and supermarkets were out of toilet paper to clean up the mess. I’d even made a rushed 24-hour visit to San José (for that very same lover, who had managed to find himself already in lockdown in a Santiago hostel, and was fleeing Chile for London via a convoluted route across half of Central America). As we parted in a fearful and confused lovemaking frenzy, I had the feeling we would never have sex again. The feeling was inexplicable at the time, given my flight was still due to depart, I’d told all my girlfriends I was falling in love, and our bodies seemed connected at the multi-dimensional level.

Perhaps that’s irrelevant detail, but today I decided I would write without censorship. Censorship of my own experiences, that is. Other people can have their privacy- I won’t divulge any stories that aren’t mine to tell. I’m a lawyer and I know the implications for breaching confidence.

But when it comes to my secrets, on the other hand, I have decided that I’m done with hiding eccentricity in the shadows. The world needs both a radical shake up in thinking, and an intravenous injection of Bliss Medicine to get us through these dark, depressing times. So if I can provide just a smidge of entertainment whilst making you think twice about what toxic cleaning products you’re pouring down the drain, I will die a happy lass. My soul has long been the aspiring wife of Salvador Dalí’s moustache, and now is as good a time as any to add colour to my philosophical musings. Just don’t take anything I say too literally – or do, if that is what you so desire. At the end of the day, I am an advocate for independent decision making. The world certainly needs more independent thinking and less blind following of blind authority.

No, I’m not high, but today I did go for a freezing freshwater swim (practising some Wim Hof), and observed a bee’s tongue for the first time. I’ve felt a particular affinity with bees, ever since I was stung a few months ago during a special tea ceremony on a deserted Costa Rican beach.

Or perhaps there was something on the covid testing stick shoved up my nose at Milan airport last week (actually, a word of seriousness, I must commend the Italian authorities for their excellent testing facilities and efficiency, and it was most certainly not the fault of the nurse that I have particularly sensitive sinuses still reeling from the shock of it all).

I tested negative by the way.

But back to more important matters. I am trying to figure out how to live in “normal” society again, when it all seems upside down. I thought we are supposed to have made progress as a human species but I find myself coming to the unsettling conclusion we may as well be stuck in the Dark Ages. Save that back in pre-industrial times, humans were more connected to nature – so I suppose it is a disservice to our ancestors to make that comparison.

Nothing is making sense to me. The unnecessary packaging of vegetables in endless layers of plastic, the chemical-enriched products we’ve come to call “food” (when for all their nutritional value, we’d be better off fasting), the excess of stuff which doesn’t seem to make people happy, the news headlines about meaningless drivel, manicured gardens and the lack of birds. During a trip to the supermarket, caught between one anorexic papaya and some dehydrated coconuts from Nicaragua, I found myself burning irrationally with anger towards all aspects of modern society, from food importation (what happened to local farmers’ markets?), to social media (and what’s the point of filtering everything? is it because reality is not good enough?), to technology (which too often seems to be causing more harm than good), to the smooth surfacing on roads (maybe there’d be less air pollution if it wasn’t so easy to whizz around), to norms about appearance and what constitutes a “professional” look.

To give you an idea of the kind of primitive life I’ve been leading, I haven’t dealt with my body hair since leaving London (actually, I apologise for this minor inaccuracy, the true story is a little longer. A few days before leaving Costa Rica, my new Italian boyfriend who I somehow found in the middle of the jungle, tried to assist me with my armpits. Sadly it ended up in a tearful fiasco shaking the philosophical foundations of our relationship, and an asymmetrical hair cut). I’ve been digging turmeric root out of the ground, munching fresh moringa leaves (yeh, that expensive green powdered stuff you see in health stores actually comes from a tree), and lathering fresh aloe vera over my naked sun kissed body, because who needs clothes when the heat is as strong as it is, and the humidity makes everything mouldy. Better to give your pores and your parts some breathing space, right?

We would wash in organic goat milk and essential oil soap, whilst conversing with the monkeys. Because did you know that goat milk soap is the best you can use, to keep from destroying your skin’s natural protective layer against germs. Fun fact for you, as we start to surf a second wave and so continues the great era of excessive hand washing.

That was my normal. I unwittingly found myself challenging social norms about beauty, defying the false premise of the razor and its misconceived minions. I discovered that shampoo was unnecessary when swimming daily in the sea, and moisturising hair with coconut oil. I peered into the abyss of technological detachment, in a home where you were lucky to get one bar of 3G signal if you stood in tree pose on top of our termite-eaten railing. Perhaps two bars if it was a blue moon and Mercury was not in retrograde.

And I emerged from a void of blackness, like a space traveller diving through a wormhole, to find a whole new universe on the other side. To find meaning in the shape of the clouds, and music cascading out of butterfly wings. To see through a sea of illusions and make friends with snakes: when I sang, they would peacefully sway on the ropes hanging off my treehouse, docile and harmless, not vipers of evil luring humanity to an early demise. Good and bad is not as it seems.

Through all of it, I saw there was more to life than this… this…

so somebody, please, tell me what is “normal” …

Published by Cara Amy Goldthorpe

Storyteller, holistic health guide, and lawyer, with a mission to promote health and ways of living more harmoniously on this planet and with each other.

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