I wasn’t going to publish this post. I thought it might be too honest, too raw, too real. But I have. Perhaps the physical distance between me and those I love makes it easier to spill my guts. I’m not sure. But I’m finding myself doing it more. I hit ‘publish’ because I want this to be a real account of my journey, the good days and the bad. I don’t like the notion that we are expected to be happy all the time, and the implication that something might be ‘wrong’ with us if we are not. We all have bad days. It doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be a good one.
Today was a tough day. As I drew the curtains back, the haze from outside slipped into my mind and settled there. And when I looked out the window I saw only the grey concrete slabs that formed the walls of the city. I did not notice the life that lived within those walls. The darkness of a dingy hotel room enveloped me, and I let it. I closed the curtains. I dreamt of places far away, and remembered a life I used to live. It seemed beautiful. And where I sat, did not.
I found myself tumbling into a space where my dirty backpack in the corner of the room glared at me. And I glared back. Five months of lugging it around, and it suddenly looked heavy. It looked awkward. It contained the same old dirty clothes I had worn for months. It contained my whole life. And that life, suddenly, felt broken.
It was inevitable that eventually it would feel like a burden. It was inevitable that a day would come where I didn’t want to venture out and explore. It was inevitable that I would have a bad day. But still, none of these things made it any easier.
What if this was it? What if this was the point of no return where the gloss was suddenly all but worn from my journey? What did I really want from all this anyway?
I let myself sit in it, the darkness. I let it fill me to the point where it brimmed over, and I couldn’t breathe. And it was only after I allowed it to consume me fully that light began to creep back in.
You know those moments, where you wish someone could save you from yourself. Those moments you begin to question what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Those moments you can hear change banging on the door, but you just aren’t quite ready to let it in. Sometimes you have to just stop and gather yourself, take a little time, dwell in the discomfort and only then can you open the door and see what waits.
Sometimes we think if we had this, or that, things would be easier. Sometimes we forget to honour the path we’ve walked, and we can’t see how far we’ve come. All we can see in those moments are the four walls around us, and how they loom in oppressively, and we shrink down beneath them, not sure how to fight our way out.
Eventually, when we look back, we realise we had to fall down to get back up. We needed to take time out for ourselves to recompose, rethink and replenish ourselves. And on the other side of it all we can see that days like these are not bad at all, even though they may feel it. They are quite the contrary, indicative of a level of change and growth that comes only with pushing our boundaries. The challenge is to listen to ourselves, learn the lessons we are being taught and allow the necessary change to occur.
Here’s the thing.
Even chasing our dreams gets tiring sometimes. Even when we really, really want something and are in the process of doing it, or trying to achieve it, it can still seem hard. Sometimes we simply feel like shit and it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, or who we’re with. That’s life. And it’s okay. It’s okay to feel broken sometimes and take time out for ourselves, and we shouldn’t give ourselves a hard time about that. Not at all. No one is perfect.
When I eventually ventured out of the darkness, the sun had begun to set. I wandered bustling streets and then sat on a little red plastic stool on the side of the road where an old lady shared her tea with me. And then the light shone back in. I realised it wasn’t my backpack I was sick of lugging around, it was a heavy heart. It was me wishing I had someone to share it all with, someone by my side, instead of just appreciating the freedom I had for now. And in the thick of all that wishing, I had forgotten to enjoy the moments. I had forgotten tomorrow would be a new adventure. I had forgotten I could walk outside and share a smile with a stranger, let a child grab my hand, or have an old lady share her tea with me.
I had forgotten I didn’t know what was around the next corner. And that like the wind, I could change direction anytime I chose. I had forgotten that sometimes we must risk it all, to gain something we never had.
So I’m throwing myself at the feet of a brand new day, with renewed intensity. I am picking up that pack, but leaving the heavy heart in a dingy hotel room in Yangon. And I am changing direction, without a single clue what waits for me.
It’s time for change. And it’s time to move…