It is 00h27 on 10 September 2011, and I’m feeling great. Excited even.
This is about as far as you can get from how I felt 1 week ago, when I secretly thought that I wouldn’t mind meeting a bus with some brake failure.
Not that I wanted to die, per se, just that I was desperate to have that feeling of emptiness, not-knowing-what-to-do with the rest of your life, that sense of “Why now?” and “What for?” that prevented me from being excited about the plans I thought I had in place.
We’ve all had that feeling – when you wake up in a cold sweat at 03:03AM and you begin to realise that your new life plans are not actually going to work out in the way you had expected. When you realise that, well, maybe you hadn’t done enough planning after all.
My moment was in a wooden A-frame hut above a deserted beach on a remote island off Madagascar. I was woken by a solitary drop of water that had crept through the one tiny gap in the leaf-roof and landed smack in the middle of my face. I only waited for one re-drop to confirm the situation, and promptly moved the mattress to the side, and remained dry.
By this time I was, however, awake – giving the mind an opportune moment to re-assess the future. My thoughts got me to the point where I suddenly comprehended the sheer amount of paper-work I would have to do, completely solo, in order to even begin to secure the income that I would need each month. I had that moment of truth where I knew that I had made a mistake and had mis-judged the day-to-day activities of my new business.
By the next morning I had decided that, actually, I’d like to remain on this beach for the next month or so, thank you very much. Somewhere with no responsibilities and no paperwork. At about the same time I twigged that I had nothing holding me back from doing just that – coming back to sit on a Malagasy beach for a month. No work, no lover, no kids no nothing!
Oh … umh… except… a certain play I was taking part in. One directed by my dear mama. Opening in 2 months. I didn’t waste any time sending her an exploratory / admission-of-feelings SMS stating my desire to remain on this beach for the foreseeable future.
It was not received with great enthusiasm.
Fast forward a week: I am back at home. I am depressed (The Holiday Blues x 10) and I still have this feeling that I need to go away. I’m aware it shouldn’t be a running-away “away”, but a more productive “away”.
I still need to get out of the play though – not a desirable task. But one that I feel I need to do sooner rather than later – even if mama is in the hospital. In fact… that’s a brilliant place to do it – they have blood pressure tablets right there! It is, if you think about it, the most sensible place to break the news to her.
But, being the considerate fellow that I have been told I am, I go prepared. I have consulted with friends about potential replacements for my part – and offer this list to the director. She doesn’t want it. I understand, and don’t push the matter. But stay firm in my resolve.
Father, in the meantime, has entered “Son Survival Mode”, and we go have dinner together, where the virtues of delaying my go-anywhere desires are explained to me. Where it is explained to me that using some time for research before I go away is probably a very good idea. The suggested period-of-introflection was 2 months – which would have gelled quite nicely with the time required to finish the play. But that was not to be – as I knew that I could not wait 2 months to go. Finances as they are, will not allow me to take off an unlimited about of time – and starting with a 2 month delay was not a great plan.
I eventually did get the list of names to the director, and my mom ‘released’ me from the production when I mentioned that I would be going to see my shrink again. Something I had initially resisted, but now saw some value in.
It’s funny – in this process of making sure that I am living authentically for myself, and not for anyone else (including my parents and friends), I have twice already had to revise my initial dismissal of what my mom or dad had suggested. They do know well – and I love them for that – but I need to make sure I am now choosing a path that is true for me, and me alone.
I had had a few thoughts about what to do with a month or 2 away from home – go teach English at a small village school on a Malagasy island (do I want to go alone? How long is a good time to go?); to sit on a beach and do nothing (again: alone alone?); go play with my nieces for a few weeks or to… go to Berlin!
I’ve had this need, this persistent voice telling me to go to Berlin – that someone or something is waiting there for me. I can’t explain more than that – it’s just come up too often in the last 2 years for me to ignore.
And so it is that I have decided to finally go. This is the time I have to do this – when will I get a similar chance again? I have realised that Dad’s suggestion of some research-time before I leave, to get some ideas going in my head about what to do upon my return, is actually a good idea. I don’t think it needs to be 2 months – so I’ve given it 1 month, which gives me a tight deadline to work on and motivate me.
I’m going to spend time in Berlin, time with the nieces in Switzerland. Time in London going to that travel show after all (and even if I have nothing much to offer). And to some new destination that I haven’t been before. It’s always important to add a new country to my travels when I can.
So tonight I am excited!
– My accommodation options have fallen into place beautifully in Berlin (I need to sort out 3 nights, but have signed up with couchsurfing to find someone interesting on whose couch I can rest my head);
– I have been strong about not falling into the “family-hop” scenario in Europe where you spend 2 nights in each of 7 places, and your 2 week time is filled up;
– I have decided to visit a close friend in Dubai for a week on my way back – giving me a new destination, and time with her; and
– I’m leaving some days open and unplanned for some spur of the moment travel ideas.
As for the “meaning of life” and “what to do” situation: I have proven to myself again that if you speak to good friends and people you know about what you’re going through and thinking – then answers will begin to flow your way.
My initial fear was that I can only do one type of thing, and will be stuck in that type of job forever. But now I have a number of ideas that I want to pursue – all interesting and do-able. And I need to find the time to research them, and make them happen. It ain’t gonna be easy, but when it all works out, it will be fun times!
So it is, that from being superbly depressed a week ago, I am now actually inspired about what might be. I am not under any illusion that it will be easy – but the process is under way – and maybe this will help me get out of bed in the morning.
In the meantime, I am de-cluttering in the extreme. I need to create space in my life to let the new goodness and ideas in.
So, I am going against my hoarding nature, and have invited friends over for a “give away of my stuff” this weekend. I have created piles of books, bags, crockery and goodie-gats that I actually don’t need – and can be taken free of charge (donations to my “Find Yourself” fund are voluntary). Anything else in my house is negotiable – you can ask for it, and I have the right to say, “no (not yet)”. It already feels liberating – even though everyone knows how attached I am to my 700-odd books!
The next 3 weeks are going to be interesting – and tonight I am looking forward to them. That may change from day to day – but right now I’m revelling in it ☺