It has occurred to me as I stare lovingly out of yet another plane window at the egg-yolk sunset, that the key to being able to fully appreciate life is change and spontaneity. What fresh perspectives can be had from the stagnant, mundane routines of everyday life compared to those created upon being pulled out from under the cosy quilt of your comfort zone, exposed, senses at their most heightened? When you open yourself up to the possibility of change you allow yourself the chance to experience whole new levels of happiness and fulfilment. If you rarely seek to challenge yourself how do you expect to benefit from the rewards? You are depriving yourself of the gifts that are given to us generously, should you be brave enough to take the initial leap and discover them.
You perhaps wouldn’t think so, but to live so freely takes a hell of a lot of sacrifice and hard work, as does any other lifestyle choice. Whether you work in an office in London having started from the bottom and are now on your way to the top, or whether you’re working night shifts as a carer for the elderly; whichever path you choose to will require work in order to be rewarding.
To be so nomadically inclined can honestly be so tiring- the constant itchy feet, the overpowering desire to be elsewhere, the uncontrollable thirst for fresh culture; it’s like an addiction. I am limited to just a few suitcases of belongings; my entire worldly possessions stacked like Tetris pieces in a 10sqft container in Brixton, London, a metal box containing all that reveals who I am as a person. If I were to die these suitcases would be a perfect summation of just how deliciously fulfilling my little life has been so far. I take real pleasure in seeing just how simple my existence really is- a few well selected clothes, a few sentimental trinkets, a plastic box of excellently written books and a stack of over a hundred hand-written (by me, to future me) postcards from various places across the world. All of this a very telling idea of all that I care about in life; and of course there are a few dog-eared pictures of the Ma, Pa and Bra thrown in for good measure.
I have to be extremely versatile, and I’ve often been asked how I manage to stay sane with such little security, both in my work and personal life. But it’s a different make up I suppose, a different blood. My lifestyle might make you feel anxious but the thought of never venturing outside the town in which I was brought up, the suffocating possibility of being trapped in a 9-5, the unbearable notion that somewhere in the world there could be something that would make me feel whole new levels of happiness but I might never discover it; that completely obliterates the insignificant concerns of sleeping in a different bed every so often and not being able to fully commit to plans if they are more than a few weeks away.
Friday morning, I had just returned from the mountains in Austria, my fourth country in two months- my ninth country this year. I was lying in bed with my morning cuppa and no plans for the weekend, not in a particularly bad mood but not in a great one either, a bit bored, a bit uninspired. My phone rings and it’s an unsaved number, being rarely bugged by PPI I already know it’s work. It’s only nine in the morning and the agencies have just opened; this means they’ve got something for me, something urgent. I answer the call, ‘c’mon’, I think to myself, ‘give me the goods’. An urgent call for a stewardess on board RRS Discovery, a National Oceanographic ship currently in refit in Durban, flying out Sunday night and joining Monday… Can you do it?
I recently read Invicitus, not being a fan of politics but being a sucker for rugby and a bit ‘o’ life affirming goal achievement and although short lived (my desire to explore the South Pacific Islands shoved SA from its top spot in the ‘to be explored ASAP’ list) became somewhat infatuated with South Africa. My dad finally made it there in January after what seemed like a lifetime of should I –sharn’t I’s and has been name dropping every since, bigging it up so much that it would be hard not to want to just pack your bags and explore it for yourself. But after some thinking I’d decided that it wasn’t quite the right time for it yet and I closed the ‘SA backpacking itinerary ideas’ tabs in my browser. But as life often does it took my ‘plans’ and tossed them out the window, and here I am on my 9th flight in under eight weeks heading for Durban; yet another new environment, yet another new opportunity for discovery. I do make myself laugh, what a weird and wonderful existence I have created for myself, but how indescribably happy and grateful I am for it. Not a day goes by that I don’t at some point acknowledge my successes, my failures and all the other fragmented and obscure components that messily make-up my allotted slice of time here, I really wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?