Its a funny thing when you have no debts to pay, no favours outstanding and no change due; you’re subject to nothing but that which makes you content, that which brings you happiness and real enjoyment, not the kind that people so often mistake for the real thing these days. There is some virtue in being selfish, not selfish as in greedy, nor as in spiteful. But to be selfish in the sense that nothing dictates your actions and thoughts but yourself. Individualistic would be a more apt word. Think, when you meet another who is selfless in that they give and always bend to other’s convienences and leave nothing of them self but a willow waving with the next breeze, what impact had that on you? Does it teach you, does it give you cause to think deeper and understand? No. Those people you meet who have such an impact on you are as boulders in a stream. Standing on what they know to be solid ground. Sure in their convictions and drawing strength from this. These change the course of wispy winds and wandering currents. They will only be moved after encountering a force equal in its conviction and even then only after contemplation of the newly encountered.
Something had been throwing me off for the majority of this semester abroad. And I have had trouble identifying it. It was the one subtle, yet omnipresent difference between here and Melbourne. I believe I’ve come to understand it now. Australia was adventure, it was a disruption of the norm and entirely outside of my experiences to date. And such an environment was my expectation this time around. Despite the much more relaxed lead up to this round, the expectation was that the feeling would be similar to before. Nope. Not a chance. It is simply life. And that itself is so disconcerting. I’m in London, across the Atlantic from my family and home, somewhere I’ve never been before, and none of it seems out of place. It does not feel a monumental undertaking, rather another chapter in my life.
It then becomes extraordinary that this has become ordinary.
Self sufficiency, an understanding of the values and pillars you build yourself upon. These are the things that are learned, some of the most important tools to take along in life. To maintain the body and feed the mind, push the spirit and expand the soul. This is being abroad, this is life.
Life is spending the weekend in Wales out on the Pembrokeshire coast, in kayaking and hiking and coasteering, swimming along the coast in the ruins of an old quarry, leaping from thirty feet high to the freezing water below, being carried and rocked by the current, scrambling over jagged slate. And laughing, with vivacious joy, because suddenly there you are, out on a promontory reaching into the Irish Sea, with the wind ripping at you, then swelling around you with your refusal to budge, accepting that you belong here, the waves surging forth to grasp you from a hundred feet below, before accepting their inability to scale the heights you have, the calls of the gulls crying to above the wind and waves, with the same joy that courses in your laughter. And no one else even seems to realise what it is to be here, upon this one piece of the Earth, to be so alive and to join your voice to the wind and waves out over the vast grey horizon. For some reason, they walk by, and you are alone in this liberating moment. It is wondrous, it is true, and it is life.