The Bats of Madagascar
(on grieving while travelling)

Travelling has accompanied me through many stages of my life. Whatever the destination, it became contextual, reflecting my state of mind, openness or isolation, my inner reflection of the moment.
It has always taught me something, always enriched, by highlighting certain aspects of others or myself.
My experience in Madagascar has not deviated from this rule.

Deuil en voyage

A few days before my expected departure, I learned terrible news, from those that upset a woman’s life and sometimes even reshuffle her cards : the death of her father.
Denial, crying, distress, lost looks, images that turn in a loop in a brain that doesn’t yet assimilate information, regrets, anonymous sobs suffocated from the bottom of a church, a parade of sad masks that all wear in them for a moment, an exchange of laughter, an outstretched hand. A little of him who made them here today too, witnesses of facets that I so wish I had known better.
The problem with older, modest men is that they don’t like to talk about themselves. By force of things, it is through others that you learn to know them better, to understand what real wood they are made from, what has moved them during their life. So I understood a little better what I already knew: that my father was deeply human, generous, carried throughout his life by the fundamental need to help others, to make his contribution, to register in his territory, in his community. And that for him, all this was normal.

Throughout the church service, an almost mystical disruptive element caught my attention: a bat flew over the altar and the coffin. It must have taken up residence in the dark and cold ceilings of the nave of this church. But it was alone.
My sister later said, "Do you think it was Dad who reincarnated ? Oh no, he wouldn’t have picked a bat.

The departure

Taking the train, eating, waking up, finalizing your suitcase, all like an automaton. As if a part of my brain was unavailable, frozen, and all my life-saving energy focused on these few tasks. Move on.

" When you don’t know what to do, do something "

It was the first time I saw a voyage like the light of a lighthouse for the castaway, a buoy in an ocean of tears, the emergence of a little light in a dark manor haunted by regrets and lost moments.
To be swept away by the whirlwind of a vast country and an overloaded logbook. Swallowing up miles that would be a little further away every day from that cemetery where two men I love are buried.

After 5 hours of stopover sleeping on the uncomfortable seats of the airport of Saint Denis, between misty dreams and hirsutes revivals, I re-engaged for Tana, the capital of Madagascar.
Actually, after arriving exhausted, apathetic and sullen, my mind managed to disconnect and experience, during these 3 weeks of new landscapes, encounters, mechanical galleys (4!), beautiful and surprising landscapes. Supported by a burning sun that gradually warmed my heart, and a friend I could count on: this was my therapy.
I even managed to compartmentalize my brain to keep away my sad thoughts and regrets, in a double-locked drawer. I wanted to focus on my environment, contextualize my grief to keep it away, build up strength to confront it when I get back. But the unconscious is a very deceitful companion who can remind you of him at any time. And you carry them wherever you go.

What I learned

Every trial must teach us something, otherwise its cruel absurdity would be too unbearable.
Among the surprising landscapes of Madagascar are caves, of different shapes and sizes. In the darkness of those of the Ankarana Parka singular noise is heard, like a dialogue made up of small high cries. You can’t see them, but you know they’re there: bats.

I don’t believe in coincidence. Without wishing at all costs to give meaning to everything and chance, I try to be attentive to messages and to a possible synchronicity*, which I sometimes believe in.
The bat. An animal in need of both darkness and light. Life, in short. There will always be dark moments, but those very moments allow us to appreciate at its proper value the luminous passages of our life, and the caress of the sun.
The deaths of my brother and father have in turn darkened my existence. They returned to the dark, having lived a luminous life, both for themselves and for those around them. But these lives, by their choices, actions and righteousness, constitute the strongest of the foundations. They will forever bring me the light and the lighting necessary in moments of doubt.Like inner totems, upon which to lean and draw inspiration, a protective force that allows me to finally tame the most important thing in our human condition as poor mortals: acceptance.

At a meeting I attended, bringing together some unknowns, the moderator asked us this question: "What did you do this year, that might have marked you forever?". When my turn came, I mentioned this trip and the circumstances in which it took place. I was then surprised by the spontaneous reactions of several participants, who were travelling in the same circumstances, wishing to express the good that this did them. Reconnect with life, recharge its batteries, as the only remedy not to sink, and hold off on a pain that you’re going to have to face at some point anyway. It occurred to me then that this kind of testimony could help other people, not knowing how to react between a life that ends
I read somewhere: " If the world is upside down, bats have it all figured out ".


Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

A rather exhaustive vision of the great “existential” anxieties, given by a therapist. Even if the book seems to have been written especially for therapists, some passages give keys to understanding our fears and solutions, illustrated by concrete examples. Not everyone will feel concerned about all the themes (fortunately!), but many are interesting to give a new light to our reactions and sufferings.

Mark Manson

As always Mark Manson delivers a text borrowed from his research, reflections and philosophy.
And as always he hits the nail on the head, without false naivety and clichés.

La Succession
 by Paul Dubois

La succession de Jean Paul Dubois

A man is confronted with the death of his father and the succession that follows. A weighing, direct, not a word is too much.
Sometimes poetic, sometimes acerbic. A drolatically sarcastic view of resilience and family issues.

*Synchronicity is an unconscious awareness of life. It's a set of messages that accompany you at times when you need them to make the decisions you need.

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