The Days We Make
|oban harbour sunset|
There are things we know, and there are things we think we know. And both of those things get mixed up so easily that depending on our circumstance, that they can become something different entirely. There are moments in everyday life that seem so clear, like waking up and eating breakfast and answering emails and calling our mother. Those are the things that we know how to do, and we do them.
Then there are things that we think we know, like how to succeed and how to act and react, and why we are driven to do those things. How to love. How to leave home for the first time. How to say goodbye. But in truth, we know very little. Our knowledge of life is so very limited, and becomes even more so when we think we know that which we cannot.
I’ve half felt like a zombie these last few weeks, not just because I travelled for hours in cars and on ferries and was mostly surrounded by wilderness and had a lot of information thrown at me, but because of all the emotions running through me after a really good, albeit chaotic trip. I think perhaps I learnt more about myself these past few weeks than ever before, and I think that is because I became acutely aware of the things I think I know…and realised I do not know them half as well as I think.
Perhaps because I was travelling with family, or perhaps because the days counting down to India are closing in on me, or maybe both, I have felt more introspective. I have been more judging toward myself. I found myself questioning why more, and that is always a good thing. But in doing so, I found flaws. I don’t want to be the person who lives life for the success or the money or the whirlwind of a fast-paced lifestyle. I want the opposite so much I sometimes cringe at living in a society that applauds those things. But Ireland taught me to step back from it all. I didn't write much in Ireland, I couldn't tell you half of what we did, but I thought a lot about everything. Those thoughts are what I want to share with you.
Everything that we do begins as a small idea. It may seem impossible, it might seem like it isn’t worth finishing, and there might be people criticising the idea or the process; but in the end, when all is said and done, it is not the finished product that means half as much as the journey. An idea stays an idea unless you see it through to the end, and in the end, people judge their lives based on how many ideas became reality.
Suddenly, after months of preparation I guess it has finally hit me that I'm actually leaving. My small idea, this dream I conquered up when I was only 15 years old, is finally happening. It's been one hell of a journey, full of highs and lows. 15 year old me fighting with my parents trying to convince them, a year spent dreaming before even going on selection, getting selected, fundraising a humongous amount of money, training and now the moment it's all been leading up to- leaving. I'm about to jump over the last hurdle in what has been a life-changing journey, and for the first time I'm actually nervous.
It started with something my mum said in the car. I was telling her my plan of going to visit my brothers in England before I go to India, beaming I'll leave home and Scotland a couple of days early and suddenly the topic of saying goodbye came up. She said to me, so nicely and meaning so well, that I would need to say goodbye to everyone gradually over the next three weeks. Friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, neighbours.
It hit me then, I think, for the first time. Until now I've been a ball of excitement and I still am, I'm just also kind of nervous now. I don't want to say goodbye. But I have to. I have less than a month left at home and I'm kind of heartbroken at the idea of leaving. India sounds amazing when I talk about it, and I know it will be really really good and an amazing experience, but there's a difference between talking about something constantly for three years and then actually living it. Getting on that plane. Saying goodbye. Arranging skype calls and collecting addresses. Leaving.
I'm somewhere between terribly excited and sick to my stomach with nerves.
After much assessment I've realised my problem. Entitlement. If I felt upset at a situation, it was almost always because I felt entitled to something that I was not getting, be it love or affection or respect. Every single time I became angered, which I've decided was far too often, it was out of my own personal decision that I was not getting something I deserved…not that I needed, mind you, but that I deserved.
The moment we believe that we deserve more than someone else is the moment we begin to suffocate the light within. I have thought about this word so much over the last few days: entitlement. And in doing so, I have realised it is largely the root of most negativity in the world. A person leaving a nasty comment to someone else on the internet feels entitled to do so with small regard for the other person. Someone bullying someone at school feels a sense of power over someone else, and so they flex that muscle. Two lovers in an argument each want to prove a point without considering that neither is more entitled than another.
I began to fear that entitlement had taken over in my life recently. In fact, I am sure that it had. Entitled to India. To my dream. But something I believe in above all else is our capacity for change, and so I’m taking that ticket out. We choose how we react to all situations.
Here are two of my favourite quotes on the matter by Eckhart Tolle:
“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”
What incredible wisdom in these words. They are comforting to me and I will wear them around my shoulders like a blanket, reminding me of what is important. Now that I am back home, out of the chaos that was too many trains, long journeys, rushing to and from ferry gates and sitting in hours of traffic, I find it much easier to appreciate my experience. Those times, when I was stuck in chaos, I found it difficult to centre myself.
Right now, I have no plane to catch, or class to set up for, and I am sitting quietly in front of my computer …so yes, it is easy to feel calm now. But in doing so, I prepare myself for another trip. I prepare myself to be a better person next time, and right now. I prepare myself to forget the face of entitlement and instead to embrace my circumstance. To be more grateful for all things. To share love with all things. To know intimately the genuine happiness that comes from love.
I am one of the luckiest girls in the world. To have a family that supports me endlessly, and knows when to take me away from the city and bring me back down to earth. To have friends I'm going to miss like nothing else in the universe even though I'm so excited to see them all start university and continue being fabulous. To have the opportunity to live in India at 18, to travel and volunteer and do good.
And so, if I am making any point in writing these words, it is to say that we are all flawed, and that I recognise my own. It is to say that we are all in need of love, but not without giving it wholeheartedly first. We are all in search of inner peace, but not without discovering our demons when we cross that threshold. The most important journeys will always knock you down, but we need to remember there's always something worth getting up again for.