It’s been almost 18 months to the day since we hit the road and set out to re-engineer our life together. How different life looks & feels now! I often reflect, trying to nail down exactly what’s changed. So much, and so little. On the surface, we’re living the same life we always were. It involves work, commuting, bills, not enough time to see all that we want to….all the mundane details of normal life. The difference now is how I approach them. What it boils down to is that life really hasn’t changed at all. It’s me that has. And the difference in me lies in dreams, knowing them, pursuing them slowly and patiently and aligning our life with that pursuit. I so often used to consider the source of my malcontent. I would look at changing my location, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go and all my friends were here. I would look at changing my job, but I didn’t know what else I wanted to do, and I loved much of it anyway.
I think I knew deep down that such superficial changes wouldn’t really solve the problem. The change that was needed was a change in me. But I did need to strip my life back to get some clarity. It’s said that we don’t often appreciate things until they’re gone. And it’s bloomin difficult when we lose something irretrievably only to find we value it after all. But what if we could lose things to our advantage? Losing them through choice, watchful of the consequences helped me determine what I valued and what I truly needed in my life. The problem is that it’s not a comfortable experience.
This early blog post brings back those early days so vividly…all the change, the anticlimax, the tiredness & difficulty. The insecurity was the worst. My life & the belief system it was based on was literally falling apart, everything I had worked for I had just thrown to the wind – my career, my security, my savings – & as it all fell apart, I lost myself a little. All those external things that were never really under my control but which my identity was so tightly tied up in – I knew I had to cut my ties to them to grow freely but oh, it was terrifying at first!
I so often avoided the unknown and the discomfort it brings but there was no avoiding it now. I had shut my eyes & jumped & I was now facing the ultimate existential discomfort. Facing it was a good choice. Little did we know the challenges, the connections & the wonder-filled world that lay ahead of us.
In all of the hardships we faced, the upheavals, the best-laid plans gone to rack & ruin, there was always a silver lining that revealed itself and always a lesson. At first I had to put in a lot of reflection to see them, but eventually it became intuitive, and later still the knowledge that the benefit would reveal itself was enough. For me, that is the true value of travel…it has schooled me in patiently facing and abiding with the discomfort, it allowed me to practice welcoming this imposter just the same as I did the comfort.
Life had shown me that all things pass but travelling taught me how to handle that fact & gave me the understanding that I’m up to the task. I can be grateful for failure now and imperfection because each time we fail we know a little bit more of how to succeed. Words I knew to be true prior to travel but I wasn’t feeling & wasn’t really living. It took the experience & practice of living that knowledge to really allow it to influence my choices & actions. Travel left me nowhere to hide from doing that. Previously, when I protected myself from the discomfort of the unknown I deprived myself of that learning opportunity.
Becoming easier with all of that has helped me identify what is truly important to me. And it has helped me to stick unerringly to those dreams & values, to see them through without excuses or exception and without impatience or deviation. To know who I am, to have purpose and know i’m working towards it with a person who shares my vision is, for me, the definition of contentment.
For the first time I see a clear path forward and for the first time I accept that this will – and indeed should –
change as time goes on. That change doesn’t mean I got the path wrong, it means life is evolving and I’m growing. Mickey & I may be static for now but we’re not getting too comfortable…life is for living and time is short, there are dreams here that won’t make themselves happen.
So here’s to dreams. For those of you teetering on the edge of the unknown, I’m reposting this, to let you know you’re not alone in the discomfort & to let you know that it can get better.
To each of you reading this, I wish you the fortune of knowing yourself, your values & your dreams and the courage & circumstances to explore a path towards them. I truly believe the world will be a better place if more people live out their dreams x
COVER IMAGE: whilst this sunrise might look the stuff of India or South Africa, it was taken from our new front door in North Yorkshire. Mickey leaves at 5:30 am each morning, leaving me awake to welcome the new day. And many days the world puts on a show and reminds me to slow down and appreciate.