This has been sitting in my draft box for some time. The main reason, if I’m honest, is that I’m a little nervous about sending it out. I’m feeling almost naked with revealing some of my innermost thoughts. But it’s time to let it go…and not be so scared! Enjoy.
It’s a strange relationship I have with time. Does anyone else experience this?
At certain times in my life I’ve experienced time taking its own time. I mean the length of time it’s taken to reach certain milestones in my life. It’s a changing perspective. For instance when I was a young girl all I ever wanted was for time to hurry itself up so I could be a teenager, grow breasts and be a cooler version of me however that looked. But then when I became that so called cool teenager all I wanted then was to finally have freedom that the magical age 18 brings and be an adult so I could be grown up, stay out really late and be independent. But then when I was an adult in my mid-20s all I wanted was to be secure and settled with someone, leading a successful life in terms of career and earnings and have lived the high life by 30. Then in my 30s all I wished to do was claim my body back after giving birth four times in five years. And then in my early 40s I claimed my mind back too and marched back into full time work and mega-multitasking carrying a magic wand.
And now at 43 and a half years of age, I finally don’t feel like chasing down time anymore. In fact, right now time is becoming more like a mysterious disappearing act while riding a bullet train through life. I’m not enjoying this feeling of my time now slipping through the clutches of my hands.
Today I reflect on a milestone of time. It was six months ago when I departed my comfortable home and existence for a year of travel. I was finally going to live out my one and only adventurous life and travel like a nomad for 365 days. But I’m not doing this alone as a solo traveller. Also on this life affirming journey is my husband Steve and our four daughters – three teens and one tween – on a family year of adventure. It’s a dream that we both worked hard at making come true; a nightmare for our four children when they realised they’d be spending more quality time with their parents rather than their friends.
So we’re each celebrating this day for different reasons. The four kids are naming it the ‘down hill day’ as it’s the day that represents day # 183: rolling home from this point onwards (lol). They’ve even downloaded countdown apps until they’re reunited with their BFFs. For Steve and me it’s a day of being grateful that we have lived out (and still living) our travel dream and that our family gets to spend this year together exploring and learning about ourselves and the world.
Although half of this journey is complete with another half yet to live, I’m struggling with this niggling perspective that time is running out. At times I feel like I’m holding onto life because in all probability it’s also half way over for me. Can I now reverse the wish that I was so blatantly fond of in the first half of my life, and make time go slower just here, just now at this stage of my life…pretty please? The lesson is to keep coming back to the present. Be in the moment. Now. And now. I’m either too preoccupied looking back in the past or forward into the future and I’m missing out on relishing the only time that counts: the present.
“If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man…Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
While in Spain, Steve and I took on an exercise that a coaching friend suggested we do (thanks Deb). It was to imagine our life working backwards. We visualised our life at different stages – 80 years. 70 years. 60 years. 50 years. 40 years. It was to explore and delve deeper into painting a vivid picture of our lives at each of those age brackets and describing the life we were living and experiencing in those moments.
What are you doing at 70?
Where are you living at 80?
What are you eating at 65?
Who are you with at 50?
Who is around you at 75?
And then it hit me. Steve was already there – in his 50s – and he couldn’t go back any further. It was already used time.
All that remains are memories, photos, possibly a journal entry or two, and probably a Valentine’s Day card kept to relive and remember those completed years, months, days, minutes, moments. And in the exercise I realised we have a just shy of 10-year age gap. How would that gap impact our lives when Steve would be 80, I’d be 70? When he retires, will I still be working?
The purpose was to get us to imagine life now but in the future: what we want then, down the track, in our lives. To be able to say we have no regrets and to live a life that was designed by what we wanted rather than defaulting to an anything will do life path. Realistically it’s to have a plan and take action before time literally runs out. It seems many of us are living life as if it – our lives – do not have a use by date. It’s a forever perspective. One day I’ll travel. One day I’ll start a business. One day I’ll spend time with the kids. One day just never comes around. Life doesn’t work that way. There is no comfortable golden path without taking conscious effort and action over and over again.
Our round the world journey represents our conscious choice to steer off the robotic default path assigned to us by our society. To take a risk and live out our dreams experiencing our diverse and beautiful and wondrous world together with the kids rather than wait until retirement. It’s something many parents will never get to have with their children because they’re focussed on living within the way the majority of the world operates.
The decision to step out of our comfort zone didn’t come easily. It came with a price tag. Sacrifices had to be made, priorities asserted, and commitments followed. We had to keep dreaming, believing, visualising and taking baby steps towards our departure date. And now that I’m here, half way though the journey it feels surreal that life could be any other way. I’m left wondering and exploring what will happen at the end of the journey and how our re-entry back to the triad of home-work-school of standard life will unfold. Will I fit back into the box I once occupied before I left? Do I want to squeeze back into that box? What other dreams do I have – the one’s that are sitting on the shelf for another day, another time?
My perspective about what’s possible and available for me and my family and my friends and other humans in the world has expanded immensely because of taking this trip. It’s truly amazing what can be achieved by anyone with a dream or a passion and then taking action. We can all have dreams for what we want our life to look like or mean, but without taking the steps to get there it stays as a dream within the wiring of our brains.
Travelling the world with my family has opened my mind to all sorts of thinking, questioning, philosophies and simple curiosities and changed my perspective about what’s important in my life. And I’ve decided I’m just going to be present with the here and now knowing time will go by as it always has, and I will age and the memories will be filed away. So I think I’ll keep creating the life I want to live now and beyond, and enjoy the feelings and experiences that come with actually living my dream wherever I am with my amazing, traveling tribe.
“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.”