I saw a TV programme about “flooding” – a psychological technique whereby you are confronted with an overwhelming amount of your phobia. For example, arachnophobes would stand in a room full of spiders and be taught how to handle them.
For me, unfamiliar spaces, filled with unfamiliar people and a huge unexplored landscape would be terrifying. As part of my PhD pitch involved psychogeographic explorations of cities and towns, and as I’d had a fascination with Norway since I was fourteen, the plan I made seemed perfectly logical.
That plan was to fly to Kirkenes – in the far north on the Russian border – with my partner who would then fly home, leaving me there. I would then make my way to Oslo via as many towns as possible, taking in landscapes and towns, talking to people for interesting stories, writing as I go.
I talked to my Doctor about it and we agreed that it was extreme, but if I had support – just in case of problems – it would probably work. Luckily, I know a few people in Norway. Fortuitously, they live in several different towns spread out quite evenly from Tromso to Oslo. If anything went wrong, someone would be relatively close by.
Unfortunately, that plan is proving difficult. The expense is too great, and not having worked for six years, money is still a day to day problem. There is very, very little in the way of accessible arts funding, I’ve discovered. Even half a dozen short trips to university over three years is going to be difficult.
So, I’m selling my stuff; pretty much everything of value that I have.
I am determined to do this.
From being confined to a single room to dreaming of being lost in Norway is a hell of a path, and for the first time in many years I’m actually looking forward. I’m seeing a future that is fulfilling – rather than just treading water and waiting to die. A future that is exciting, inspiring and worth living.
Who’d have thought?