Some moments hit us right in the feels.
For the first time in weeks, I took a morning coffee into the harbour and sat by the water’s edge, simmering in the moment before the inevitable descent of the day’s tourists. Sun dappling the water caused a hallucinatory disco ball effect as I sat lost in thought, bobbing on a wharf in the wake of early harbour traffic.
Somehow I sat for exactly long enough that I wound up stretching my calves on the stairs just as a couple in their late-50s, early-60s were walking past with their dog. The spaniel fell in love with me and wouldn’t budge, staring at me, smitten.
Naturally, Louie’s owners and I fell into chuckles and conversation, and soon she let slip they’d just found their land-legs after docking last night, the end of their six-month sail from New Zealand to here, Victoria.
Bucket list: Check.
And maybe that’s not on my bucket list, maybe it will be one day, but I allowed myself to kinda vibe off them. They oozed this surreal afterglow of “We Did It.” He told of how they had a humpback whale pod following behind them, playing in their wake, swimming alongside them. Humpback whales! A pod! Thank god for Go-Pro cameras. Coming to a Youtube near you.
They looked happy. A picture of contentment.
And that’s not me. Not today. I’m not a picture of contentment or happiness. I’m not deeply unhappy or sad, either. Just longing for something I can’t put a finger on.
Get Busy Livin’
It comes back to age and experience, living life. These people get it. It’s not about the money, the fame, the glory. It’s about where you go, how you get there, and what you see along the way. I think my age, 40, is when you start understanding those truths — if you’re lucky. I understand life comes with a “best before” date. I’m aware.
My mother died at 57. She didn’t get a retirement. There are no guarantees.
I know too many people my age working for their “retirement.” I want my work to be my life, and to feed my life. Travel, exploring, writing, photography. I get it now. Something looms for me: The anniversary of when I nearly died a decade ago, my head injury and scooter accident. It was Labour Day weekend, 2004. I learned then how precious life was. I wouldn’t say I squandered the next eight years, but they weren’t the years I’d have chosen if I could.
The last two years, though, I wouldn’t change much. They’ve been what they needed to be. A coming to terms, of sorts. A reprioritizing. A slow and steady waking. I can tell you now, the discontent of those first eight years fuels my growing reluctance to compromise now. I know what unhappiness is, and I don’t want it again. For me, contentment is a choice and I choose it more often these days.
I know we’re all works-in-progress. Some people are more focused on progress than others. Some know where they’re going, some don’t. I didn’t. Now I do.
Sufi mystics sitting in mountain caves will tell you it can take years of silence to find wisdom. They’ll tell you clarity isn’t a flick of a switch. It’s not being in darkness and opting to turn on a light. It’d be a pretty amazing world to live in if it were that simple. You don’t walk into a forest meadow and pronounce yourself ready for enlightenment.
Epiphanies just ain’t opt-in.
A Serendipitous Intersection
So somehow I spent the exact amount of seconds sitting there and staring into sunlight dancing on the water, and plodded the causeway precisely slow enough, that I was there, stretching my calves on the steps, and just happened to meet Louie and his owners, provoking a conversation that led me to understanding exactly what it is I want, where I want to be, and how I want to get there.
It helped me strip away all that bullshit in between. The noise of obligation, the drain of a hard working schedule, the tasks that lie ahead.
If that windswept look of contentment, that be-here-now look of absolute satisfaction is something that comes from me staying on this path, working as hard as I have been, and keeping my eye on my goal, then I’m ready. I can do that. I can be that girl.
Like them, it’ll never be about the money for me. Obviously there’s a certain amount of money needed for an epic adventure like that, but there’s also a new world out there. A world where work is anywhere I need it to be, as long as there’s the internet and a computer to do it from. The world can be my office.
Times will come when I forget this clarity, this awareness. It’s in stopping to write about it that I hope I preserve it for just a little while longer.
I’m writing an ebook about the adventure leading to my life abroad and the evolution taking place inside me along that journey. Are you on my mailing list? That’s where you’ll get excerpts. (Or if you’re into my cooking, there will also be some recipes along the way.) Please sign up to follow along.