Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Present

One year ago I was holed up in a dusty, nowhere town in the middle of Laos, musing about an impending 2-day trek through the Phu Hin Bun NPA. I was worried that if nobody else signed up for the trek I’d be spending the last night of 2009 sitting around a campfire at my guesthouse with a few other disconnected backpackers who also hadn’t planned their agendas quite correctly, feeling awkward. (As it turned out the trek was a go and the evening was spent playing dominoes and drinking with the locals of a tiny, poor village, followed by sleeping on the floor of a simple hut in said village with the only two other travelers who had signed up for the trek: Jane from Australia and Sophie from France. It was purely delightful. If you’d like to read more about it, visit my travel blog . The entry is entitled “Happy New Everything”)

New Years Eve 2008: Me, Aussie Jane and Frenchie Sophie in village in Tha Khaek, Laos

I remember what promise and hope I felt for the year ahead as I lay tucked under my mosquito net in the ink-black night. How could I feel anything but pure optimism? In the space of 12 months I had spun my entire life in a dizzying 180: I’d left a 15-year career plus another job to boot; sold my home, put my stuff in storage and was now four months into the adventure of a lifetime with no end in sight. The world was truly my oyster.

Flash forward one year. My name is on the lease of a cheap, crooked old apartment in a somewhat disadvantaged area of Montreal. I am surrounded by my “things” again – a huge chunk of which I have gladly divested myself of through several more rounds of charitable donations. (You know those teeny, tiny, useless closets those old apartments have? Two of them are actually enough to house the bit of my clothing that’s survived the endless edits. ) Occasionally I get paid to write, which is still incredible to me; but I also work odd jobs to cobble together enough money to cover rent and all the other expenses one doesn’t have to worry about when in a high-end career or on a world tour, like cable and car repairs. I am going through a difficult and bewildering transition where many of my friendships are concerned, and it’s isolating and lonely and tough on the self-esteem. I don’t know what’s happening. My orbit has changed and I wasn’t prepared for that. And to top it all off, I’m still single.

So to sum it up: I have a ramshackle home in the same city I left behind, no career to speak of, no money, no boyfriend and some wonky friendships. Given all of that, it wouldn’t be hard to look upon the last half of 2009 with feelings of disappointment, disillusionment, depression. Of my adventure people seem to like to say, “Play time is over. Back to the real world, now, Cara.”

I say, go tell it to someone else.

Sure there are difficult days (and weeks. Occasionally even months.) How could there not be? No adventure comes without fear, risk, unknowns, and, yes - failures. That’s why so few embark on them.

But as I write this on the last day of 2009, I am at my sister’s home near Calgary, witnessing dawn colour the tips of the Rocky Mountains a pastel pink outside my bedroom window. I spent Christmas week here with my family, playing with my little niece and nephew and visiting with my parents and siblings. I had 2 unexpected and glorious days to reconnect with my soul sister Shauna (whom I first met on my island) at her parents’ home in Edmonton. We spoke of everything. She has gone back out into the world now, where she belongs, and where we will surely meet again; out there, somewhere.

Me, Shauna and a fully Canadian reunion: December 26, 2009

Tomorrow I will head home to Montreal and continue setting up my home office. I will not dread going back to my desk job in the corporate world, because I don’t have one of those anymore. I haven’t had one for almost two years now.

I will find some new odd jobs. Maybe at another garage. Maybe at a cafe. Maybe both.

I will exchange emails with Sam, my dear friend and the caretaker of my perfect plot of land on Gili Air, as he updates me on the progress of the fruit-tree-planting on my island paradise. Soon I will have succulent mangos, papayas, and avocados growing outside the door of my hut that I am going to build there. He will tell me about the rain.

I will continue to dream of future travel destinations - maybe trekking through New Zealand with Shauna?

Listen to me. I’m telling you.

The adventure continues.

Life is not about the knowns. Not for me; not anymore. It’s not about the security of a desk job and a paycheque and a house full of belongings and two weeks at Club Med once a year, as comforting as those things can be and have been. Comforting, but - and I must remind myself of this frequently - not the real world.

The real world is out there. It’s in the leaves of the seedling mango trees growing on my land on Gili Air. It’s in the creases in my worn map of Bangkok. It’s in the dirty hands of the children of the village in Laos who clung to my leg on New Year’s Eve 2008, begging for nothing more than attention. And it is in the faces and hearts of the people that I will meet in the odd jobs that I will do, have to do, to make money to survive.

As it should have always been, it is about the search. It is about the struggle, the desire and indeed the demand to discover and feel life in every moment of every day. To question, to seek, to find and then to seek again. Life is not in the comfort, but most certainly in the discomfort. It is not in the standing. It is in the stumble, the fall, and the getting up again.

So as I trip and stumble my way through the last day of a fantastical, difficult, transformative year, I wish you not comfort and security but life, in all its tangled glory.

Happy life. Happy New Year.

"The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.” G.K. Chesterson


Artemis Aspires said...

Love it, as always. I fully understand and agree, your adventure is FAR from over. I love your honesty and optimism.
Rely on the friends that you DO connect with, even if we're on the other side of the world!
Great to see you soul sister...nest time it'll be warm and we'll be back in sarongs ;)
Love you! Keep on keepin on!

Jomon said...

I was searching the meaning of "Car Jocky" Just searching a word I have seen on a reuters website. The search on google landed me on this blog

This is the reference

However.. I am an Indian Software professional .. I too have an ambition of seeing the whole worl d.. :) .. still could not materialize ... However u did it .. Nice .. Have a great life ahead