I travel completely chaotically. Most of the time I can’t remember where I’m staying (yay for free wifi at airports), I almost never exchange currency in advance, and I would never dream of arriving the “recommended” three hours before an international flight.
The thing is, I know it will never be as awful as taking the boat from Yantai to Dalian in China (I survived). And I will never cut it quite as fine as the time my friend got confused and thought my flight time from Munich airport was the time I needed to leave (I made it).
So, why worry? I’m neurotic about the location of my passport (rather than send it to the US for renewal I returned to the UK because I couldn’t cope with the thought of being without it), my wallet, and my phone and laptop, and now my Kindle (Amazon). Everything else can be replaced, or coped without. In China, I also worry about having enough hard cash, but that’s it.
My trip to Switzerland had me wondering if this was a good strategy, however. The breakfast snack served by Air Canada made me extremely nauseous, and then the following morning we rushed out the hotel before 6am for my boyfriend to make his flight. I had only the vaguest idea of where I was going, but it was ok – free wifi at Geneva airport to look it up! Then I realized the wheel on my suitcase was broken, it was draggable but a pain. But still, I worked out the ticketing system and got myself on a train (with time to pick up delicious croissant, natch) and rescue some unfortunate American that didn’t speak French. I had to change trains, but I got a ticket and found out which and boarded with minutes to spare. I honestly don’t know if the Swiss are just particularly efficient with lots of trains or whether I was ridiculously lucky, but I didn’t spend any time hanging about waiting!
But, my suitcase was driving me nuts and I was stressing that the wheel would give out completely. Also, I was doubting myself – should I have had a plan? Was my boyfriend and I deciding on impulse on Thursday that we would have a date in Geneva insane? Would my flight on Wednesday be cutting it too fine? How was I going to write my first academic talk when it turns out my co-supervisor won’t be there to get some insight from?
And then, as we headed upwards towards the mountains I looked out the window. And realized that 1. Switzerland is so very beautiful. And 2. Right now, is just fine.
And then, y’know I got off the train and followed a mis-signposted road and got a bit lost. And came in to discover that whilst I received a receipt the conference organizers didn’t receive proof that I’d paid and had a huge drama trying to connect to the internet… and ended up sleeping through the afternoon’s sessions.
But that feeling hasn’t left me. Right now, is just fine. And I like travelling chaotically because it is always fine. I challenge myself – and then I make it work. I have been to a lot of places, and experienced a lot of awesome things. My last passport had stamps or visas on nearly every page and my new one has extra pages – it represents the possibilities – the places I’ll go, the adventures I’ll have. In all the stress and the chaos and the frustration with constantly packing-or-unpacking, and living in the same few outfits because honestly I can’t remember what else is in my closet it all became not-fun anymore. And people would say, “Oh Switzerland? You’re so lucky!” And I would look on in bewilderment because it felt like all I was seeing was airports and hotels and how is it lucky to go to a ski resort and not ski?
I’m ready – so ready – for this period of intense jittering about to end. And frustrated, by the idea that I keep seeing that says, “you’re doing what you need to do, you are who you need to be” because sometimes it’s time to change and it doesn’t really matter if someone else thinks my life is glamourous or exciting if I feel like I’m losing my mind.
But this moment, this moment is fine.
I love books, I read a lot – even more now I have my Kindle (Amazon), and it seems like I mange to read the books that contain the message I need to hear. Recently, there have been two. The Power of Now, and Goal-Free Living (both Amazon).
I was frustrated by The Power of Now. It was too fuzzy and spiritual for me to take some parts of it seriously, although I much enjoyed the quote: “I have had three zen masters, all of them cats”. But I did get some things out of it.
- To be present, just focus on whatever it is you’re doing right now. I find this calming. Instead of running from one place to another thinking about what I’m grabbing and where I’m going, I’m just walking.
- You are not your life situation.
- I was also interested by the mind-creation of drama, although I don’t have a concrete conclusion I’m drawing from that.
Goal free living is a short, easy, but mind opening read. I really recommend it (and thanks to Rachelle for recommending it to me!) The eight principles of goal-free living are:
- Use a compass, not a map
- Trust that you are never lost
- Remember that opportunity knocks often, but sometimes softly
- Want what you have
- Seek out adventure
- Become a people magnet
- Embrace your limits
- Remain detached
Anyway, after all of this – I’ve learned in the midst of chaos, in the midst of change, I need to take a deep breath and appreciate right now, whatever it contains. I hope right now is looking good to you, too.