The idea behind this trip was conceived just over 12 months ago, on 21st March 2008. I was flying back to Australia from Bangkok after an inspiring visit to India and an amazing dive trip to the Similan Islands (off the west coast of Thailand). I was on a peaceful high but sad and a little depressed to be returning home. I wasn’t ready for my holiday to be over yet and I was returning to a job that I had come to despise for a company that after seven years of dedication and loyalty could find nothing else to offer me (yes I was feeling a bit jilted and jaded).
It was time to move on. The signs had been there for a while but I had stubbornly ignored them. I had just been through a major relationship break up and didn’t think I could face another significant change in my life, just yet. I wanted to ride out the turbulent signs of change for as long as I could.
But sitting on the plane, thinking about leaving and then finding and committing to another job in financial planning (ie finding the next step in my career), I felt nauseous to my core. This wasn’t just the issue of moving on from a job and organisation that had been a second home for 7 years, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to work in financial planning anymore. In fact I was fairly certain that I didn’t. My mind wandered back to the things I had just experienced; the joy in the faces of children who had nothing, the unique sights, sounds and smells of another country, the wonderful people I had met on my journey, and the peace that only neutral buoyancy seems to bring me. I knew that I needed to experience this again, without a time limit.
So I returned to work on the Monday, resigned on the Friday and finished work the following Friday with the intention of only undertaking contracting work until the end of the year before heading to Asia to scratch my perpetual diving itch. By June, I commenced a 6 month contract which I agreed to extend, mainly because I wasn’t ready to leave yet. Then in January, an unexpected change in my living arrangements provided the motivation I needed to finally set a date and book a ticket.
My belongings have been packed into boxes and space saver bags ready to go into long-term storage, I have crammed as many belongings as possible into my back pack and have said a final “see ya later” to most of the beautiful people in my life. That makes it sound so simple and easy but to my surprise it hasn’t been at all.
Up until ten days ago, it was almost as if I was in denial about leaving. Other than arrange my visa and my holiday hair management strategy with my beloved hairdresser, Joey, I had done next to nothing to get ready to go. But why? This wasn’t a case of being lazy, this was a case of a stubborn, change-resistant soul trying to hold on to what it knows and pretend that this wasn’t really happening.
Now this may sound crazy because as we all know, this period in my life is going to be an exciting adventure. However, there is a large part of me that likes certainty and likes to plan everything so that outcomes can be certain and that’s one of the main reasons the leaving has been so hard. I have no plan for this trip. I have ideas about what I would like to do with my time but as much as I tried (and I did try on numerous occasions to plan my movements and activities for at least a 3 to 6 month period) I couldn’t commit to a plan of action.
I have a one way flight, two weeks accommodation and an appointment at the dive shop on Friday morning. And that is as much as I can tell you about what I am doing at the moment. So quite simply, I have no plan and that part of me that hates change and uncertainty is terrified. The terror manifests itself in the form of an anxious, nauseous knot in my stomach and for each item packed away for my future return, many tears were shed. Each item packed was one step closer to being ready to leave and each tear shed represented a letting go of what currently is and preparation for flowing into what may be.
There’s still some more tears to be shed with some final farewells to take place tomorrow but most of the letting go has now taken place. This time tomorrow, I will be on Malaysia Air flight MH128, flying to a known destination but into an adventure that is yet to be defined.