When I started this blog, it was more of a means for me to get out of the house and visit the places around me. Being a future focused person, I’ve always prided myself on doing more and being more. But then as time passes, I had a few realisations. What happens when you come to the end of the list? What happens then? Do you keep adding to it? When is enough, ever going to be, enough?
And this is the question I am trying to answer.
Time passes for everyone. And as you mature from one stage of life into another, you have a few realisations. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Yes it helps, but after a certain point, that’s no longer the case. Focusing on others and trying to make everyone else happy leaves you empty and a little lost. You can be happy and one of the most outwardly successful person yet be the most sad and lonely person at the same time. Your body isn’t as supple as it once used to be. Now, stretching is part of the routine.
So what happens then? I’ve come to the end of my list. My entire life list. This is what happens when you match determination, hard work and laser focus to a life you imagine lasting 80-95 years. Then what? With that, I began with the end in mind. (Thanks Stephen Covey – “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”). What did I want to do before I die? What kind of legacy did I want to leave behind? And with that I started with my eulogy and worked my way backwards to help identify what are the major themes for my life.
Once I had these, I then started putting together all the mini-structures in place to make that eulogy come true. And whilst it can be frustrating that things don’t go according to your time line, sometimes, the art of letting go and being patient is what’s needed most. Heck, it’s even more important to not beat yourself up all the time. Our world is filled with instant gratification and social media is doing it’s part to drive us into a narcissim that is on a scale beyond even what I can imagine. I am part of this problem and in the clutches of the system. So much so, I started tracking my decline in focus. And in the span of an hour, I picked up my phone for a random Facebook browse at least 4 times. This increased exponentially when I was bored or was working on something that I really didn’t want to do. So I enforced a week without social media. Because when I originally tried to get off Facebook, I turned to Instagram. I haven’t worked out Twitter, but I know if I left Facebook and Instagram alone that I would turn to Twitter. Why? Why is this happening? Technology is causing distractions. It’s not disruptions anymore. It’s distraction. When I stopped and looked up, that’s when I noticed how the world had changed. Catching up with friends for dinner, would invariably see one or more (if not all) of them taking their phone out and having a conversation and browsing at the same time. It’s like, we are more connected than we’ve ever been and yet have this amazing sense of isolation. Here we were, all of us, sharing a meal, yet we were all on social media either taking photos of our (amazing) food or putting catchy phrases to the fact that we were having meals together. I know the irony of this, because a part of this blog is dedicated to restaurant reviews. But I’ll address that later. Then there is public transport. Have you ever been on the train and see how many people have their headphones in. It’s like they’ve all become an isolated bubble of “me”. I researched the history of music and came across an interesting fact. When Gramaphones were released, not everyone could afford one. But some of them that could, would actually take them out into the street and play music for people. So every now and again, a few people would have an impromptu street party. And music was shared. And people talked. Look up. The next time you’re on public transport, do me a favour and look up. And tell me what you see.
But then, I challenge you to take a part of your journey without music. And suddenly you find something really interesting. You have so many thoughts in your head that you’re constantly buzzing. And it’s all the chatter that you’re trying to suppress. But instead of suppressing it, maybe try taking some time to peel back what it has to say and get comfortable with it. Is it because you cannot enjoy your own company that you need to have music or random TV playing in the background? Now I can see some of you calling me out and saying that I’m hypocritical. And you’d be right. But I am human too. Back in 2012, when I went to Europe on a contiki holiday, I had a big realisation. We were walking up a hill in the South of France in Beaujolais. Unfortunately our entire group took one wrong turn and the climb got ridiculously hard. When we went to the top, the food (bread, cheese and wine) that had been rationed out to the various groups were consumed in one way shape of form. And that’s when everyone came together and shared their food. I cannot remember what we spoke about on that hill, I just remember laughing so hard that I snorted some red wine which made the group laugh out loud even more. And that’s when I realised that, this is all you needed to be happy – some meagre food, people to share it with and some sort of shelter. That’s it. Nothing more. And in that moment, I was content. At peace, with the world. Eventually we all went back down and that’s when the scariest thing happened. Once we entered the place that had WiFi, everyone started taking out their phones and posting their photos on to Facebook (or insert some social media here). I went up to put all my things away and when I came back all I saw were these statues of people staring into their phones. It looked eerily similar to the scene of that movie The Invasion where everyone watched people jump from a building and those that reacted were taken away. I did actually freak out.
You’re now asking. Ok, that’s great. But what do we do about it? I don’t have the answer to that. But all I know is that we need to make an active choice on how we focus our time and energy. I love the youtube video Look Up. That’s a starting point. Perhaps even go on a social media fast. Try meditation. Be present in the moment. Cause, right now, You are the youngest you’re ever going to be. Get lost in nature. Get lost in a passion. Create something. We are all filled with people that consume. Try to create something. If not for the world, but for yourself. You never know how good a meal tasted (even if it turns out crap) when you’ve cooked it. And when you finally become good at it, after lots and lots of practice….is just that much more sweeter.
You do not want to wake up one day and say… “what happened?” I don’t know about you, but it always seems like the years are passing by faster and faster. But perhaps if we all took the moment to slow down, maybe we’d enjoy the short time we have on this planet together.
As for travelling. Well, travelling to “find” yourself is just a bullshit excuse to travel for the sake of travelling or for running away from something. Turn around and face your problem head on. It won’t be easy, but I promise you it’ll be worthwhile.
Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
Keep dreaming, keep chasing your goals and never stop being curious. I’ll see you on the journey together.