A soft armour

It is the simplest thing I can think of. And the simplest things always make the most sense. It is easy. You open your door, you close it behind you. You take your house with you and you walk. Your body moves through the world, becomes part of the world and your steps connect all the moments you find yourself in.

Where do you come from?

Every day they ask the same questions. I always look for different answers. A simple "no" isn't enough. Amsterdam. Austria. Anywhere. Always.

I always wear a three piece suit. Traditionally it is called a “walking suit”. A three piece walking suit. I call it my soft armour. It keeps me warm, safe, sound, it opens doors. It is my uniform, my costume, my house. It has many pockets. It is as comfortable as any outfit I can think of. I use it to collect stories in.

The suit is my interface between the worlds I move through. Between the land I walk, the body I walk it with, the place people refer to as “the real world” but which I consider to be just as real as the other world I move around in, the ephemeral world wide web. The stories I encounter, hold in my hand, find a new home there.

Where are you going?

I try not to know. This suit, my fifth one, brought me to the Nomadic Village, a two week artist settlement in the east of Austria. A 1364 kilometer walk from my doorstep in Amsterdam. 96 walking days. Every day I am performing my life. Every day I am living my performance. Every day the world is new. I don't know where I will lay my head in the evening.

Every day brings new encounters, new landscapes, new stories. I write them down on my solar powered iPad. Two embroidered QR codes on my trousers and my jacket link to my weblog. At the same time I embroider the stories on the outside of my suit. Small drawings and texts. It reads like a book. The people on the road read my story. And while reading it, they become part of it. Like I become part of their story. And that story is the most important one. The one that leaves no visible traces.

One day I walked early along the Danube. A man on a bike passed me and stopped to talk. Shortly after another man with a dog joined us. The man with the bike went on and I walked together with the dog owner until he had to turn left to return home. I continued until I heard a voice from behind and a man in a canoe said "There you are! They were talking about you in the village where I just came from!" We exchanged our stories and while talking, another man passed by and sat down on a stone to listen to us talking about how you create the world by moving through it. He was on his way back to the village where he lived. He just listened for a while and went his way again. Probably to report what he had seen on the road. A woman in an embroidered suit with a walking cart talking to a man in a canoe about slow ways of moving through the world, through your own life.

Where do you come from? Where are you going? How many kilometers do you walk every day?

The two questions most asked are basically one question. Yes, I am lonely. But not more than I am at home. Not more in cities than I am in nature. Not more among people than I am among trees. So I answer " no". I meet so many people on the road. Some of them become friends for life. But I always carry my solitude in my left pocket. I cherish it. My courage is in the right one. I don't have to search
for it. The question most asked is whether I am not afraid. I never hesitate answering that one. Not
when I am walking, not when the world is carrying me.

(On this blog you can read the report of my 96 day walk and my stay in the Nomadic Village afterwards. From there I walked to Vienna where the story continues, where I will think about all that has happened and prepare my next steps.)

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