“You can’t run away from your problems forever, Cristina”
Oh that line – I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it.
And nowadays I just say – watch me.
Last night Cyclone Dumazile hit Mauritius and now I’m stuck inside.
As I sit here in a hostel and feel an overwhelming urge to explore this beautiful island, I now feel guilty for every second I have spent inside these four walls before the cyclone hit.
My restlessness has turned to writing.
I haven’t written a blog in what feels like forever… I think it’s only really been about 4 months, which isn’t that long I guess, but my life back then was strikingly different.
I actually feel like a different person now.
The truth is that I had never been so depressed in my whole life before I left the Gold Coast last year.
It’s not the first time I experienced a low – to be honest I actually felt really depressed the previous time I left to travel long term too, back in 2012.
But when I came back almost one year later, I had a whole new perspective on life – and so I knew.
I knew that travel was the only thing that could save me, the only thing that would make me want to live again.
It all sounds so extreme – but for those who ‘get it’ – they really get it. Both the part about depression and the part about travel.
Staying true to my mission, late last year I tied some loose ends so I could leave Australia indefinitely. And then… I ran to the light. I basically set out to travel like my life depended on it. To be honest I think it did.
It’s not that I wanted to leave Australia as such; I love that place beyond words! I guess maybe it’s because of the familiarity, the expectations and all the responsibilities I felt there… and also all the things that happened to me over the years. I felt an insurmountable need to escape to where there were no memories, where it was all new, where I would be challenged to grow, where I would find awe, find a reason. Escape to where I wouldn’t be judged and most of all where I could feel like a brand new person because no one would know me.
Okay so I know it’s true that if you are gone long enough, your problems do catch up with you. I have experienced that before. Then maybe the key is to keep running; never stay in one place too long, keep moving, keep it new, keep it fresh.
Very unrealistic and unhealthy, I know! Hence the advice I keep getting – that I can’t run away forever, yes, alright, okay. But god knows I still try… it seems to be my drug of choice.
Seriously though – when it comes down to it, people deal with the pain whatever way they know how.
Yes, they deal with THE PAIN. What pain exactly do I speak of? I couldn’t tell you. You have to ask each person individually; they know what it is. Only they know it, and only they know what soothes it.
Similarly – you know what YOUR pain is. And chances are, you are running away from it right now, as we speak. Doing whatever it is you have to do to deal with it. Even those who are out there “embracing” their pain and doing yoga or meditation, thinking positively, clearing their chakras or whatever new age sh*t people these days come up with – they are doing it to deal with pain too. Whatever way they know how.
Travel is MY way.
For me, travel is the answer to every question. It’s weird because I actually have a love/hate relationship with being “homeless” (and I mean that in the sense of growing up as a gypsy and never having spent more than 6 consecutive years in one home). Nevertheless, funnily enough, it’s my safe place, my status quo, my comfort zone. I don’t know how to feel ‘at home’ somewhere, and those of you who read my writings will notice a pattern where I talk about this feeling a lot.
Before I left Australia I received a job offer to work in the Middle East – it was a big challenge and I’m so grateful that this came up, as it was kind of an excuse to leave. It’s always hard to leave, particularly when you’re not in a good mindset. So it was perfect timing, actually. Whether things worked out or they didn’t, it was a way out and at that point I really felt as though I had nothing to lose.
After embarking on this adventure, a series of random things started to happen. They were quite bizarre and felt a little bit like ‘signs’; so after a couple of months, I knew it was time to hit the road again. Part of me felt like a failure, because I had set out to accept this amazing opportunity and grow professionally, yet here I was, finding myself slowly merging onto another path. In the end I had to remind myself that after the things I went through over the last few years and particularly in the last 12 months, there is no price for inner peace. I had to remind myself that time wasted can never be recovered and each day you spend not living your truth, is a day you can’t get back. Ultimately, I had to remind myself that when you know- you know.
Sometimes on paper things can sound truly amazing… but in reality, if it doesn’t make you happy, it’s not meant to be for you no matter how it looks to others. Yet it’s not always easy to pick up and leave; I think it’s normal to feel the urge to make things work, to try harder, to feel like maybe you should give something more of a chance. I feel a lot of pressure in that way, I lay it heavily on myself.
But as I said, there are times in this life that you just know; every ounce of you knows.
Overnight things became clear and I knew the decision was made to travel again and get back on the road to I-don’t-know-where. I was a little nervous – I have previously made some decisions from the heart which cost me very dearly.
Still it was exhilarating at the same time to feel free again. Suddenly I was sitting in my room booking a ticket to Mauritius and it all felt surreal.
Mauritius was exactly the break I needed. I had a wonderful time in Sri Lanka, in Abu Dhabi and in Bahrain, but somehow I didn’t exactly feel rested and at peace.
But here – here I found what I had been looking for. It’s only temporary, and I can feel it’s coming to an end, but for whatever time I could hold on to it, it was worth the while. Since arriving in the island I felt more at peace than I have in years. There is a vibe about the place I can’t quite explain… and the people I have met are truly beautiful.
Let me tell you about these people – for the first time in years, I spent time with those who really live in the moment. When I am with them we don’t check our phones and we have no internet half the time – we just spend quality time together. We bond through sport, we play cards, silly games, we share food, we swim at the beach, we chat (half in English, half in Creole, as I pick up bits of the language here and there). We go out as a big group; we are all at the same place, at the same time, something so rare back where I came from – where everyone always seems to be busy or unavailable. We run on island time and no one cares, because all we have is here and now.
Last weekend we danced all night at a friend’s house. Just simply danced. We actually moved her furniture and turned the lounge room into a dance floor, playing tunes from each other’s phones, mostly creole songs. There was no alcohol, no one was drinking or taking any drugs – we literally operated on a natural high. We didn’t spend much money, didn’t need to go to a club, we had each other and that was all we really needed.
As I aged and went through a lot in life, I thought this kind of innocence didn’t exist anymore… but I found it again here. It’s really a treasure and it’s still within me. I just needed the right people to bring it out.
Thinking back, only on my second day in Mauritius I accepted a random invite from a friend whom I had barely met to go on a drive and boat trip. I took a chance – and I am so grateful I did – it was simply mind blowing. At that beach on the North of the island I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, from inside the water, without a phone or camera.
Instead I had the most amazing company and scenery to focus on and I can say with sincere honesty that I completely lost track of time. I will remember that day and sunset forever in spite of having no photos or videos. I really just enjoyed it for what it was.
There is simply no high like truly living in the moment.
So here, in a small island off the coast of Africa it all made sense. Why I had to leave each place, why I had to follow my heart, why it doesn’t matter how much money I spent up till now, why it’s irrelevant what I gave up – it all brought me to this point. Just to reach here and finally feel a sense of happiness and peace after years of inner turmoil was the greatest reward. No matter how fleeting, this kind of happiness is what LIVING is all about. And I will keep searching everywhere for it.
Occasionally my mind wandered to memories of the way I felt 4-6 months ago – and I know now that I never, ever want to feel that way again. And I’ve never been so sure of anything my entire life. I know now that I will run away forever if I have to, I will do anything, I will give up everything, and I will travel to the ends of the earth if I have to – just so I never feel that darkness again.
And like I said – those who “get it”… really get it.
Inner peace is the new rich.