On the path of a meaningful life

Texts, photographs and videos by Claire B.

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28 March 2019

The black hole

The first months of 2019 are difficult. Winter is passing in Chamonix and I am facing depression.
DISPATCH

The end of the year has arrived. 2018 ended and 2019 started and I faced a very difficult start of the year. Snow engulfed the valley and tourists disembarked inlareg groups a few days before Christmas. In the restaurant, the pace has accelerated again in an attempt to cope with the ever-increasing proportion of customers. On Christmas Eve, a new restaurant manager arrived. We had been working without a manager for two months. I greeted his arrival with relief, hoping that his presence would perhaps allow me to shed the immense workload and resolve some problems. But my relief was short-lived.

Christmas evening was a disaster. We sold out. More than 300 covers in an immense room with a team of six members and five in the kitchen. With a menu of almost 100 euros offering six dishes. Inevitably there were failures. The dishes came out cold or in the wrong order, the drinks service was very slow, several of the staff crashed during the service… In short, it was one of the worst services of my stay here. Half of the customers left unhappy and several almost spit me viciously that we had ruined their Christmas. I struggled to cope and came home at one o’clock in the morning completely washed out in my small bedroom, my morale in the socks. Merry Christmas, Claire.

The week between Christmas and New Year finished breaking my last resistances. Fortunately New Year’s Eve was less catastrophic than Christmas, but I started the New Year quite tired and extremely disappointed. A small voice that I vainly tried to ignore was getting stronger and stronger in my head. A small voice which whispered to me that I had made a mistake when leaving Australia and that I should have persevered. With the bad weather, the fatigue, the growing irritation of the team, I found it increasingly difficult to find the strength to put things into perspective and even rest during my days off. I felt helpless, incapable, and had given up meditation and yoga long ago. My life consisted of dragging myself out of bed in the morning, running and catching up with the permanent errors of the other staff members, slouching on my bed during my break and dragging myself again for the evening service praying that it would goes without too many problems. From a mental point of view it was a disaster. From a financial point of view, it was the jackpot. I was doing almost three to four hours of overtime work per day, so my salary was going to be doubled or even tripled when I was gonna have my last paid in April.

A little lull during the last two weeks of January allowed me to breathe a bit and I thought I was getting better. I thought I was going to get out of it. Succeed in leaving behind this feeling of unease, this permanent impression of failure. But life follows its own stream. And the last resistances that held the sword of Damocles hanging over my head for several years broken. The February holidays arrived and the pace doubled again for four weeks. It was too much for me and I felt like I was falling into a black hole. Life was dark, my creativity turned off, my motivation fled, my body sick. Abandoned to depression. I spent two months without wanting anything. Without wanting anything anymore. I could no longer change my mind, take a step back, let go. I only saw the headless and permanent problems of the management of the restaurant and I was unable to change my point of view. All my mistakes, all my failures from my previous years, all my sadness and disappointment exploded in my heart and the wave of depression that I was trying to hold back poured like a tsunami in my mind. It was over, I couldn’t take it anymore.

February and March were long and difficult. I do not keep many memories of it apart from a blurred image of permanent repetition. I thought I was going to resign. But I didn’t. Coming to work at the Alpina hotel in Chamonix was a good decision. While being at the same time a bad decision. Last October when I started I quickly realized that the place would not be the experience I wanted. Disastrous organization, too small and inexperienced team, toxic work atmosphere, company values opposite to mine, work pace not suitable for me, etc. But I stayed. I stayed to fight against the little voice in my head that whispered to me that I had made a mistake when I left Australia. I stayed to fight, to complete my seven months of work, to enjoy Chamonix Mont-Blanc, to try to grow and change. Was it naive? Should I have left and started elsewhere? I am unable to say. The result of the lesson will only be known in the future. In a few months I will be able to say if my work experience within Vista was an enrichment or not. At the moment I am struggling to cope with depression.

I started writing. To write about my depression. To try to understand it. I am not an expert, far from it. But I think I understood some things. Especially about me and my desires. And on the path I want to follow. Apparently you have to suffer enough to get out of it. I have been suffering for ten years (doubts, personal and family problems, bad habits, anxiety about the future, etc.), it is time that I get out of it. I want to get out of it. I have to move and get out of all the dead weights that hold me back! Why is it so difficult to change? To really change? Why does the ego hold so ardently to all these toxic habits? Why am I the way I am?

So this was it. In suffering something was born. Towards mid-March, by constantly reflecting on my future, my depression and my Peregrinus Mundi project, on what I wanted to do with all of this, by constantly feeling at the bottom, by getting used to the pain, I saw a little light appear. Suddenly I came across an idea. An idea so beautiful, so simple which seemed to await me. An idea that, perhaps, had always been there. But that I had never seen. And creativity returned with a boost of motivation. I completely redesigned my Peregrinus Mundi website to make it something other than a simple blog. To make it a creative medium. A place of stories and creations. A memory of my life, to tell my life in the form of stories and to present my creations. A support for change, the future and all the possibilities available to me. I just have to open my eyes and free myself from my chains.

Despite the difficulty of this depressive period, today I think it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Coming to work at the Alpina was perhaps not intended to make me persevere in the restaurant business. Perhaps the goal was to make me understand my needs and finally put me on the path that I have been unconsciously pursuing for five-six years. A path centered on well-being, creativity and contact with nature. A return to simplicity and tranquility. A need for change. Or it is a lesson teaching me that reaching the goal doesn’t really matter. That only the wanderings of the path are of interest. Who knows…

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Chapter IV. Home spleen home

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The first months of 2019 are difficult. Winter is passing in Chamonix and I am facing depression.

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