And what causes this mild form of tourettes? Sydney has been taken over by the “hipsters”. Starting with the Bondi Hipsters, Bondi Hipsters – YouTube
As I plan to embark on perhaps one of my biggest adventures, my thoughts turn to how I actually got here. I’m not sure when it happened. Or whether it was something that occurred suddenly. But, I definitely have a gene in me that is wired for travel. You could say that it is in my DNA. And has been for a very long time. Am I a “traveller” by definition? Is there even such a thing?
It wasn’t always like this. Up to the age of 23, I had only ever left the country twice on overseas holidays. And both for scarcely homesick inducing periods of 1 week each. Holidaying at Butlins through my childhood, I first ventured on a plane at 17 years of age for a week in Tunisia, followed by a week in Ibiza the year after.
So what happened to me? How did I develop into this itinerant nomad? Where did my peripatetic lifestyle come from? It could probably be traced back to a chance conversation in 1993 with my old mucker, Steve. “Fancy doing a bit of travelling?”, I asked. “Where to?” was Steve’s first response” After ruling out Europe, too close, we decided on Australia, on the basis that we had heard it was “warm there isn’t it?”.
And there we were, in the departure lounge of Manchester airport, Steve’s dad carrying his rucksack, and my mum worryingly checking out my fellow passengers. Astutely noticing that many of them were of a foreign appearance, I had to remind her that was because I was flying to Bangkok, the first step on a 12 month working holiday to Australia.
Almost 20 years later, my travel cravings remain hard to satiate. Long backpacking trips around South America and much of the rest of the world just leave me returning with an always-increasing travel bucket list. I meet people who have been to corners (metaphorically speaking) of the globe that just invite exploration. Lists of must see sights and cultures.
As I plan to make the move to start a new life down under, I muse whether this will be the start of the end of my constant global wanderings, or whether it will just be another start.
From a distance, the fields look very green. Lush. As you slowly approach, the verdant green starts to fade, and when you are at the fence, it looks as though the grass isn’t green on either side. Typical.
Life has a way of changing on you when your back is turned. Your thoughts and attitudes change with the passing of the years, without you realising what profound effect they are having on your psyche. What looked a good idea a few years ago, looks less so now. The things you enjoyed become less appealing. When did this happen? It’s as though we slept through the changing of the guard. As we silently passed the dark hours, somebody came into the living room of our heads and rearranged the furniture. And when you wake up, it takes a while to notice. What is different?
That is how it happens. Silently. Stealthily. Before you know where you are, all the angst of youth seems a distant memory and you are happy with yourself. Happy in yourself. Just happy. Since reaching 40 I have never felt more comfortable with being me. Just like that. Without consciously thinking about it. Without making any changes. Without suffering a midlife crisis. I still don’t have a red Porsche, a Harley Davidson, a Rolex (yet) or a Playboy bunny girl as a live in lover, and yet, I’m happy.
I would even go as far as saying that I feel quite settled. Yeah, you heard that right. Settled. My friendships have reached a level of maturity whereby the friends I have are the friends I want to have. And they are great friendships. The times we have together leave me with lasting memories and a smile when I reminisce about them.
And yet, shortly, I’m leaving all this behind. Packing up the great home I have. Leaving the work I’m doing, after finally, after all these years, starting to work for myself as a freelance project manager. And leaving family and friends behind to lift and shift it all 11000 miles away, to the land down under.
Why? It’s not just for the Vegemite sandwiches and pints of Fosters. It’s because I’ve harboured this dream for a very, very long time. To live in Australia. The eight visits there haven’t diminished, or diluted this dream. I’m very excited to go and start a new challenge. I thrive on change and challenging the status quo. But, it has to be said, when I set out on this journey, over 2 years ago, I wasn’t in the same place, mentally. The metaphorical furniture was upturned, I wasn’t settled and did indeed suffer the odd pangs of angst. So, back then, the grass did in fact look so much greener.
Like I said, maybe Alanis was right, it is a little bit ironic, don’t you think?
Yeah, I know. It’s a cliché. But then, life is full of them isn’t it? It’s only when something really happens in your life, and I mean REALLY happen, that you suddenly sit up, take notice and start paying attention.
Life really IS too short. A fact brought suddenly into focus when you lose loved ones. This is when the truisms captured within clichés really start biting you in the ass!
So, as I approach my 40th birthday I was suddenly hit, despite almost 40 years warning to prepare for it, with the realisation that I am most probably half way through my life. And that is hoping that I’m one of the lucky ones who get a good innings, to coin a(nother) cliché.
I’ve had a solid first half, done some amazing things, travelled the world, met many wonderful people of all cultures. But as I begin to mentally think through my half time team talk, I wonder whether I need to make any tactical changes, or substitutions to affect the full time score.
If I come out in the second half, play the same game as I’ve been playing, will I be happy with the final score? I will have put in a solid performance. A game I maybe should be happy with. But could I have done more? Did I really stretch myself? Did I live my dreams, or just my life?
What about that second language I always promised myself? Living in a foreign country, rather than travelling through? Didn’t I dream of owning and running my own coffee shop? Only I can make these pipe dreams a reality. And I can. If I decide that I don’t want to settle for a draw in the biggest game of my life. I can.
As the whistle is about to be blown for the end of the first half, I need to decide how I am going to play the second half.
It certainly is going to be some half time team talk.