Often times, shop it feels like we’re contestants on the Amazing Race.
Like the time we had to get ourselves from the Philippines to Cambodia. This required us to wake up at 6am to take a motorcycle to board a boat, viagra dosage where a tuk-tuk picked us up to take us to the airport, where we took a small propeller plane to Manila, which required us upon landing to drive through an hour of rush-hour traffic to traverse the quarter mile distance to the main terminal, where we then spent the next six hours trying to secure the necessary permit required for us to board our red-eye international flight to Phnom Penh.
Or, like the time we went overboard in Taipei trying to fit everything and my mother (literally) into our schedule. A typical day had me running at least 3 errands all over the city (all of the odds and ends we’ve been waiting to do in a developed country), taking Lisa to a park, national monument, or some other tourist attraction, attempting to fit in some physical exercise, visiting a relative, and of course – doing something gay (like interviewing James at Taipei’s gay bookstore and then editing four hours of video).
We’ve left our jobs and responsibilities and traveled thousands of miles away from home in an effort to live a different kind of life, but sometimes we still find ourselves feeling rushed and exhausted from trying to do too much.
At times its simply unavoidable, but most of the time we do it to ourselves. A few nights ago, Lisa and I stayed up until 2am talking about how we were feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed? We aren’t even working! This lead us to reassess the last three months and ask ourselves how well we’re doing in achieving the goals we had originally set out for this trip.
This is what I had stated back in the spring of 2011 as my personal goals for this trip:
At the end of this trip, I hope that:
1. I feel rested and present.
2. I have a renewed perspective on life.
3. I have a deeper understanding and greater empathy for the rest of the world.
4. I have helped someone else.
5. I have grown deeper in love and in connection with Lisa.
6. I know myself a little better.
7. I have a better definition of what I want in life and how to achieve it.
There are ways in which I clearly have made progress. Like the fact that after 25 years of nail-biting, I have miraculously quit since embarking on this journey. Or the fact that I am finally allowing myself to read trashy novels and watch a tv series. (I had cut the cable off years ago and given up reading novels because I felt guilty for not doing something more “educational.”) And of course, the beautiful consequence of not having a job or home responsibilities is that your obligatory to-do list is pretty much cut down to the bare minimum (e.g. making sure I have enough money in the bank to pay for our latest flight).
But I want more. Inspired by the book The Happiness Project (which Lisa and I highly recommend), I’ve decided to take on one of these statements each month. Which means for the month of October, I am tackling statement #1: I feel rested and present.
One of the things I realize I need to do in order to feel more rested and present is to simply let go. I have a habit of wanting to do everything to the fullest and feeling guilty otherwise. For example, this week while visiting Taroko Gorge National Park in Taiwan, I felt I needed to hike every trail in the park to conquer the experience. I realized how ridiculous I was being when I had mini-breakdown over missing our bus yesterday morning (and therefore, missing our hike). It took a considerable conscious effort, but I did a 10-second breathing exercise (a little woo-woo, but it really works) and told myself to just let go. In the end, we found an amazing hot spring instead and made friends with some locals who showed us another trail, so it all worked out. But first, it starts with letting go.
Feeling rested and present is a state that nearly every religion, philosophy, and self-help book aspires to. I’ve never had time for it. I have no idea what it takes to consistently slow myself down, but I’m going to give it a very conscious go. Some small steps to start include getting a good night of sleep, doing my yoga exercises and actually trying to do the meditation part, and allowing myself to let go of my ridiculous expectations for myself. Which means that its now time to watch an episode of Modern Family with Lisa before I get my eight hours of sleep…