I love travelling BUT man, I hate flying. I never sleep well, always managing to just grab a few five minute blocks every so often, just enough to keep me from dying I guess. I just hate flying.
Next time I fly I am going to try premium economy; the extra money may be worth the extra comfort. We shall see.
Having said that, the amount of awake time permitted me to really evaluate my trip. And forward plan my life. Yep, never not thinking in this head.
My time away has permitted me to work out exactly what I want my future to be.
I remember the first time I wrote a poem as a child. It was about Adolf Hitler (yep, I have always loved writing about the darker aspects of life) and it rhymed. I was SO proud. I loved the act and the art of writing. Words have always held power and sway for me. Always.
I absolutely enjoyed keeping my blog whilst I was away. I loved writing every day (almost) and missed it when I wasn’t writing.
The act of writing allowed me to process my experiences as well as keep a record of my adventures and my responses towards them.
I want to write.
It is who I am.
I became a fan of podcasts whilst I was away (thank you Liz Gilbert for Big Magic – your podcast started my obsession). And I spent a lot of time on the Greyhound buses listening to interviews with authors and TED Talks. Illuminating.
Liz Gilbert said in one interview that she almost felt sorry for people who had more than one passion/thing they were good at because finding time for both and to succeed in both would seem very difficult to her; she feels blessed that she was only ever good at writing because it was what she had to do.
You can imagine why this was illuminating for me.
I love teaching and I am good at it.
I love writing and I am good at it.
But it has been very much sacrificed for my teaching.
And that has been okay.
But it isn’t okay anymore.
Writing always fills me with calm and jubilation.
Teaching does not.
That is the reality.
Enough said 🙂
A man I used to work with died whilst I was away. It hit me hard. Both Lauren and I had someone that we regarded as a good person die whilst we were away, different men.
Jeff was a PE teacher at Airds High School when I was finishing school. He was still there when I commenced my teaching career at Airds High School as a casual teacher in 1993. He was a fairly quiet man with a wicked sense of humour. He was very committed to teaching and to his family. He was a great person. He died from a heart attack. He is only just older than me. I was devastated.
Mortality is such a bizarre thing.
We all know that we will die.
But we expect that we will all be really old when we do.
Losing my friend Nat, well before she should have been allowed to die still hurts my heart every day. Having a sense of what Jeff’s family will be going through is just horrid.
It did enforce for me though how grateful I was that I was in New York really living my life, forcing my dreams to become my reality. Life really is too short to not do what makes us happy.
I have had dark times in my life. We all have. The depth of the darkness may vary among us, but very few people get to be my age having never experienced pain and hardship to some extent. I know a few kids who have experienced extreme pain and hardship, and who struggle to survive every single day. As we age we learn that things will pass, light will come after dark. But as kids, they lack that frame of reference of experience. They do not know for sure that light comes after dark. I want them to trust that it does, but that is a big ask.
I do believe that happiness is a choice.
We all have times of darkness and pain, very often not a choice. And it is important to experience the full breadth of the pain and associated suffering. But I also believe that there comes a time when we choose our direction.
Continue to suffer.
Or move forward.
And this is the choice.
Much easier for me to say than for others to do. Inevitably the question of HOW comes.
How do we choose happiness?
If I say, “I choose happiness”, it doesn’t necessarily follow that happiness just comes. It requires some work. Unfair and unjust I know, but if we want it, we need to work for it.
It helps if you know what makes you happy.
For me it is reading, writing, serving others (to a point), travel, discussing, exploring, gardening, baking. Yep, just for starters.
So when I need to choose happiness, I choose these things.
Happiness is a buoyant feeling. A feeling of utter peace. Bliss. Contentment. A knowledge that you are where you are supposed to be doing what you are supposed to be doing.
And that requires work.
Often to break away from the invisible binds that shackle us. Like work/school responsibilities, family responsibilities, social responsibilities, and most oppressively underlying all of these, fear.
We fear what will happen if we aren’t what we are expected to be.
I now think that we should question what will happen to us if we are not being real, and being true, to our own selves. We should fear those consequences. They are the binds that really shackle us. That fear stops us from embracing opportunities that permit us to feel real and long term happiness. They are the binds that we should be severing.
And that’s where real courage comes in to play.
I have been utterly blessed that my trip to Europe five and a half years ago and my trip to New York were completed with two exceptional travelling companions. I would never have dreamed that two people could travel so seamlessly together as Courtney and I did, and as comfortably as Lauren and I just have. I will be forever grateful to both for supporting me in ticking things off my bucket list.
It takes courage to travel away from everything you know.
But that travel invariably permits you to be wholly you, away from the expectations that your life choices have forced you to incur. Travel allows exploration, other ways of seeing and of doing, not all positive, but permitting us freedom to revise our own choices with more information. Every time I travel my world opens that little bit more. Travel permits you to meet other people, often nameless, who impact on you for better or worse, but permitting growth. It is an amazing thing and something that I believe everyone should do, if only once.
New York. Wow.
As the Greyhound Bus arrived in the first parts of New York City on Wednesday, I just started to feel so alive and so connected again. I smiled, inside and out, feeling like I was home, that this was MY New York City. The place where dreams can come true.
I felt the electricity of connection flood through my veins. Boston is a beautiful city. New York is the heart of it though. The noise. The dirt. The homeless. The diversity. The traffic. The buzz. A never ending buzz, permeating everything.
Man, it filled my soul and I felt truly alive, Truly transformed. Magical. Energised. Alive.
Even now, sitting on my lounge in the quiet village of Thirlmere where I live, the excitement of New York still courses through my veins. Our meeting was perfectly executed; our friendship now lifelong.
And I am grateful for all of my blessings.
Today, because I could travel.
I could live.
I am living.