Fugitive-life to Enlightenment
Did you ever play the computer game: ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?‘? It was that educational game where you had to use clues to, well, figure out where in the world the Carmen Sandiego was. The reason it came to mind is because I felt a little bit like Carmen Sandiego recently. No, I didn’t feel like a thieving villainess and former ACME agent. I felt a bit like a fugitive, and it changed me forever.
In case you missed my previous two posts (Eight Pairs of Underwear and Boys Toys and Road-tripping With All My Apples in One Basket), I had embarked on an epic four month adventure across the Mediterranean, the UK and the US with my wife. We breezed in and out of cities spending on average only three of four nights in each place. If I had broken any serious laws or insulted any of the wrong people, they would have had a hell of a time trying to track me down. Unless they Googled me and found my Twitter timeline, of course.
The adventure has come to an end now and no law enforcement agencies or otherwise have caught up with me (yet). Either I didn’t do anything wrong or they don’t know how to drive Google. Whatever the case, now that I’ve been in one city for about eight days and my brain registered the fact that I’m staying put right here for a long time, I began reflecting on my recent ‘fugitive-style’ lifestyle and what effect it has had on me.
Take a Time-Out
Well, rather unsurprisingly, a carefree life on the road going from one beautiful location to another is a pleasantly liberating experience. But what was truly liberating about it was having the chance to live a minimalistic life. Traveling with just a backpack each for the entire time, especially across varying climates, meant that we travelled very lightly. Finding a laundromat every four or five days became a ritual. One where on that day we accepted and allowed ourselves to do very little else. Killing time while watching the spin cycle gave us the chance to kick back, read a book or think about what we wanted to see and do next.
It was a forced time-out.
Something that I think everyone can benefit from in normal day-to-day life and that I will endeavour to keep up in the future. It doesn’t have to be a whole day, a laundry day or even that often. But setting aside some time once in a while to just think, reason, wonder and dream can make really a positive difference in your life.
De-clutter, Simplify, Reconnect
You don’t really need much ‘stuff’ to be happy. Sure, I had my DSLR, iPad 2, and iPhone with me the whole time, but considering I didn’t have my beloved MacBook Pro, plasma TV, media centre, 5.1 surround sound system, coffee machine, guitars and a million other things I normally surround myself with, I did pretty damn well.
I’m not saying that I’m going to go without these things but I’ve seriously re-evaluated how important these things are to me.
And, yes, when you’re in some exotic city in the world or in the company of new friends you made on a cruise ship then these material things can easily become a distant memory, but why not extend these feelings to your own city and your own friends and family?
The next time I find myself fussing about over my entertainment system or mindlessly clicking around on my computer, I’m going to go out and do something I haven’t done or seen in my city before or call my mum and dad and see how they are. Time better spent.
Life is Short
I never expected a four month holiday to be such an enlightening experience. The reason for the trip was only because it was an opportunity to take the ‘scenic route’ back to home to Australia after living in London for some time. Any resultant soul-searching and enlightenment was purely incidental.
Reflecting back on it I’ve since realised that this is not something that many people do in their lives. Because it’s hard. Not just financially, but emotionally too. At first you’re just escaping from your day-to-day life and living it up. But after a while you feel disconnected and distant from the world. And right after that comes the enlightenment… I swear!
I’m not encouraging you to quit your day job and run off into the sunset, unless that’s what you really want to do. I am, however, suggesting that you pause for a moment and take a time-out. Maybe it is time you went on that holiday. Maybe you should call your mum and dad. Maybe you should do your laundry. Whatever the case is, it took me a whole bunch of accidental soul-searching to basically have the epiphany that life is short. It made me re-think quite a few things in my life.
Hopefully reading my blog post will be enough to get you there. If so, you’re welcome – I just saved you a lot of time and money.