There’s something that’s been on my mind lately that I haven’t quite been able to put a finger on and it sort of has been swirling around and around in my head, tainting other thoughts that have been passing through.
If we were to get into the habit of truth-telling here, it feels like I’ve lost something over some time and I wasn’t entirely sure what it was (I say ‘wasn’t’ because I think I might know what it is now). This loss happened over a number of months – years even – without my being aware, and sadly as is often the case with a lot of things we don’t even realise we’re doing (or maybe it happens to me more often than it does to others because of my acute lack of ability to focus on multiple things at a time), it didn’t even occur to me that this loss had happened until recently.
Some people call it ‘growing up’ and others call it ‘life’ (like an old man who stole a parking spot I signalled for two weeks ago in Bath who muttered those words to me while I fumed in the car), but much as most people will bang on the ‘life is all about perspective’ drum (which is true to some extent), I cannot help but see this transition to humdrum as an unfortunate tragedy. And in this transition, something so vital to vitality itself was lost, and that thing was spontaneity.
Granted, we all grow up, most of us get full-time jobs and work 9-5 (sometimes even outside of those hours), we travel to work and back, put our legs up when we get home and do mindless things like watch TV shows before the next 24 hours roll around again and we find ourselves doing just about the same things. On this scale, we are often counting down to the weekend and before we know it, months and even years have passed us by because there is nothing to distinguish one time period from the next.
On a larger scale, we place invisible markers on how much we need to earn before we leave in search of the next role and the next step up the ladder, keep a close tab on the amount of annual leave we have left and count down to that time off, consider getting a house, a car, a partner (or a dog), a fridge that dispenses ice, a gym membership because we are getting fat or because our biceps aren’t big enough, a pension although we don’t even understand half of what it means. And on and on it goes, a spinning top with no end to its ceaseless whirling…
I count myself luckier than most – I’ve had the good fortune of working with a company that has treated me well and given me a number of promotions in the space of three years (granted, after starting a PR career in hell-on-earth), but despite all of that something still seems to be missing. As we’ve lived in London for almost 6 years, it’s easier to measure these things against the constant that is the place (i.e. it’s not the place’s fault). I was far more proactive in earlier times about doing new things (I was a student then and had more free time, but less money) than I am now.
These days, I find myself spending the weekends just chilling and no longer making plans to do anything at all, let alone fun things (‘being a grown up’ is a TERRIBLE excuse for lack of initiative). I kind of miss that. It feels like I have parted from myself, and it wasn’t an amicable separation.
Don’t get me wrong – I am all for planning; careful planning and then acting on those plans are 100% essential to reaching goals. It doesn’t matter how talented you are if you are sitting on your ass doing nothing. And granted, sometimes sacrifices have to be made. But completely forsaking fun and spontaneity while doing that feels like a tragedy. A wasted life even.
Which is what I’m hoping to recoup during this time abroad and while spending 7-8 months travelling. It’s like going to marriage counselling with spontaneity and seeing what went wrong and where. Of course there are many other things we want to do while travelling, like reconnecting with ourselves as ridiculous and new age as that sounds (no better a place than India – although searching for an oasis of calm amid chaos is going to be challenging…) – having the freedom to be spontaneous is one of the highlights for me, and truth be told, I can’t wait to be reunited with my old self again.