Self, Life

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.

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2 thoughts on “Self, Life

  1. Jean Lowe says:

    Whatever you choose to pursue in your life – never, never give up your writing, your travelling, your adventurous spirit. It would be a shame to cork it and have a career where you just make a living. You have discovered having a life – no matter where you are and that is inspiring to the rest of us. We are lifted up by your words and your photos and your energetic enthusiasm. Thank you for deciding you would share all of this with the rest of the world who can choose to embrace it.

  2. Annelle Arthur says:

    Jean has said it so eloquently. You have a true gift for writing. It’s interesting to note that you take such joy in adventure in nature. There is so much world to see and things to do. Wait until you get to Switzerland!

    Don’t forget that there is so much to be gained from relationships with others. Perhaps those are the boulders of which you speak. In London you have the unbelievable opportunity to connect with the past, with those who came before. There are so many lessons to be learned from those experiences.

    I’m delighted that you have experienced what joy and happiness are. It’s not to be had in the collection of things. For you right now your joy and happiness are in discovery. For me, at this stage of my life, joy and happiness come through the small everyday parts of life – the rain(which finally came), seeing Catie on the basketball court and her team winning, playing games with Annie, a gorgeous sunset. Happiness is also contentment for me. I have to give so much to your Pop-Pop but I also refuse to give up the part of my life that challenges me – golf, yoga, bridge, book club, being president of ALI. That’s been a major challenge. I have learned so much this year and had such a fulfilling experience working with so many talented men and women.

    So much for my philosophy! Enjoy each day. Connect with those around you. You’ll be amazed at what you uncover in others.

    Love you!

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