I’m struggling right now. I am almost ashamed to admit it. Even though many wise men have said that struggle is good for you. But still, I am a bit embarrassed, not because the struggle itself but because it seems like I have done little else but mope and whine over my broken heart for the better part of last year and I haven’t been shy about it. You must be as sick about it as I am. For a change I would like to annoy you with my positive and chirpy outlook on life yet here I go again… struggling.
But writing has always been my therapy and while I could start a diary I have always taken great comfort in the dialogue with you. Whether it was just a virtual hug, a kind word or a sign of commiseration – yes, been there too, girl. It truly means the world to me and so I will continue to share. The good, the bad, and the top ten travel lists.
So here is the writing part and then there is the traveling part. It is not new that I have recently started to question the transformative power of travel. People, in general, seem to be firmly divided into two camps:
a) Travel can transform your life (and by extension you)
b) Travel can do no such thing and why don’t we just let it be what it wants to be?! A pleasant or challenging diversion from reality, ultimately with an expiration date.
I used to be a firm member of the first camp but over the last year, I have been stealing longing glances in camp number two. Longing because I am waiting for the great epiphany not just for this blog but also for my life in general and with every flight I take, every time I unpack my suitcase and every Airbnb I book I raise my own hope only to have it promptly smashed. I am still me. Fuck it. And with that, I am becoming a bit of a cynic. Needless to say, I don’t like it because my first and foremost reason for travel was always to become my traveling-me, a different, kinder, better version of myself. Cynicism doesn’t go well with that idea of me.
Maybe it is time I lower my own expectations and let travel just be whatever it may be. And at the same time remember the words my mother told me early: you always take yourself with you wherever you go.
I repeat them like a mantra because while they are not new I believe them to be the key to my happiness. The key to stop expecting and to start living in the here and now (am I getting too new-agey? #sorrybutnotsorry).
This morning I woke up and was already in a bad mood. God knows why because I am in Bali and shouldn’t everything be peachy? As soon as I started to get mad at myself for being in such a bad mood I stopped myself – I am not on holiday, this is my life so while the sun is shining and there is cheap vegan-chia-whatnot-smoothie-bowls spelling the word “happy” cut out of melon (true thing in Bali!) sometimes this just isn’t a guarantee I will actually be happy.
I like to think this is okay as long as I don’t put that expectation into a smoothie bowl (and let’s be honest, while chia might be some healthy shit it should always be served with a toothpick – that stuff sticks into your teeth like glue!).
So I took my bad mood to the yoga studio. I really didn’t want to but if I have learned one thing it is always to trust my yoga mat. My mat has all the answers and if it doesn’t I just haven’t asked the right questions. Always always always. If you have ever done yoga you will know what I mean. I think yoga is the best candidate to make world peace happen.
Except of course when you have people in the studio who are talking before class and/or checking their phone during class and you, inspired by watching too many Dexter re-runs, just want to murder them pretty sure you can get away with it.
Still, I left the class a non-murderer and the world seemed just a tad bit better. Two vitamin B12 pills, a shower, a fight with the laundromat and a yummy albeit crowded lunch (I obviously had to go to the in-spot on a Sunday, that spot where people travel to in order to take an Instagram of their “happy” bowls) later, I am now sitting at my actual favorite place (empty, sorry for them but yay for me) and write.
I write because I can, I write because I want to and at least for a moment it feels incredible. Happiness flowing from my keyboard just for a bit. I don’t question it. I don’t ask about this afternoon or tonight when I am pretty sure a funny feeling of dare I say loneliness may creep in again. I don’t even ask about next week when I will be boarding a liveaboard in Raja Ampat, a trip that I am waiting for the great epiphany not just for this blogs fills me with so many expectations that I may not need weights, the thoughts alone are weighing me down already.
No, I just sit here and write and enjoy the sound of tap tap tap, ignoring the motorcycles in front of me, one eye on the screen, one eye on my fingers flying over the keys and I watch them like a proud mother watching her children.
Here is the thing: over the last months my thoughts and my heart have been consumed by sadness, guilt, questions and finally this intense push of transformation and moving on. Looking back on the time I feel two things: I am angry at myself for wasting so much time on feeling how I felt because it was all gone for good long before I realized. That, and I feel empty. All these feelings of sadness and guilt have left but I am not quite sure as to what comes next, what could take their place.
“Your life doesn’t stop unfolding because you take the longer route. No time is wasted.”
I read that in a book the other day and it felt like a hug, like an absolution. It’s fine how I dealt with things, however much time I took it was necessary and right and not wasted at all. Sometimes it is not about the place, not about the actual moving part, not even for a travel blogger. Sometimes it is all and exclusively about what is happening on the inside, even if that seems like such a long route that you would rather board a 15-hour economy flight sitting behind the person who always always reclines.
The other part is not quite as easy. I like to plan, I want to know the future, the good and the bad – so I feel like I can prepare, brace myself for what is to come. I always had a hard time to go with the flow, to give things and people and relationships time to develop, to move naturally. Learning to do that is a struggle for me, one that has me tightly in its grip these days.
These words came to me while I was lying on my mat trying to breathe and move at the same time. Well, not all of them of course, but just the words: lightly, lightly…
I have all this space in me and in my life to fill and also the freedom to do what I please which is actually quite incredible. And very overwhelming.
And maybe the only solution is to take one tiny step at the time, lightly lightly, take a deep breath more often, be open to things but let life take its course and dictate the speed. If I need to learn one thing it is to be in the moment and not try too hard, go with the flow…
Even writing my mind is stuttering, but…but…how?, and my jaw clenches a bit. The funny thing is that life has shown me so many times that it works… as soon as I relax (my jaw physically, my mind mentally), tread lightly and just trust life to have my back, things start to move in the most magical ways. And if I want one thing back in my life it is a bit of magic. That and a freshly squeezed apple juice, no chia seeds.