“Canada before winter, Canada before winter!”, I kept telling myself.
I am now in Canada, it is cold, winter is close. I made it.
I arrived in Canada more than two weeks ago. There is no cause for celebration. I’ve been confused ever since arriving and I’ve been unable to pin my-self down. There is a struggle to express how I am feeling – new odd feelings, old familiar feelings, ups and downs, lots of downs. It has been chaotic inside.
Why am I here I keep asking? Where am I going?
For the past 6 months or so, since way back when I was riding through central America, I have thought of arriving in Canada before it got too cold strong in my mind. It kept me moving, kept me focused, on a deeper destination. For there have been many delightful places along the way that I could have perhaps spent a life time. I’ve encountered many magical people living in magical places with their magical hearts wide open (one of my favourite might have to be this little village in Guatemala).
I could have perhaps not stopped at all – to have never known what I had missed. Perhaps if I was quicker I could have probably made it to Bhutan and made it back already. Head down, destination Bhutan, nothing else mattering. Complete? Less happy?
But now I’m here I wonder about all those things I didn’t stop or slow down for. Did I even stay long enough in those places I did stay a while in? Head up, destination here and now, everything mattering. Incomplete? Happier?
Well, I suppose that is just it. . .I’ve been wondering about the past and agonising about the future, as I often do, rather than being present with what is here and now. I am where I am now.
Deep needs of the moment
On this journey I have learnt to tune into my deepest needs as best I can in each moment, and I have learnt to act from that place. A journey by bicycle allows this, often demands this. Often beholden to no-one, no time, nor space. With that said I fully trust that the being that made the decision to journey onward at the precise moment they did was tuned into themselves as best they could. That self neither went too fast, nor too slow, for that self.
And so I am once again trying to tune more deeply into my present needs to help with taking my next steps. Once in Canada it was supposed to be onto Hong Kong. . .and so on, and on, and on, until one day I might reach Bhutan. Was that why I kept telling myself to be in Canada before winter? But Bhutan is still so far away, it seems it would require more flying than cycling. . .
Perhaps any continuation on to Bhutan would be driven merely for the sake of having once said I would cycle there. Not for the sake of happiness, and that therefore cannot be my path. . .I do not “need” to go to Bhutan.
A journey about. . .
Fortunately, it was never the need to go to Bhutan that drove this journey onward, nor was it being in Canada before winter that had me leaving places before time. Yes, it was on one level a journey about happiness, and happiness was found best amongst people who have relationships with themselves, with nature, and with others, that are full of acceptance and attentiveness.
At a much deeper level this journey was about the return, the return in the narrowest and broadest of senses. All senses return. A return to awareness, delusions shaken off, more integrated, more whole. A journey about going out purposefully into the world and deepening my understanding of what it means to be or not be happy, and then returning my hopefully slightly wiser self to the people and the lands I know best. As such I tended to move on from places and people as respectfully as I knew how at a point when they had shown me what they needed to show me about happiness.
The trouble is that I’m not quite ready to return. It’s not quite the right time. I need to integrate many of the lessons I’ve learnt, I need to prepare myself, and I think it is important to travel back in a way that honours my journey up to now. In truth I’m not sure I could yet handle stepping off an aeroplane at Heathrow airport into the thick of a city where I was born and in which I always struggled to find happiness.
I need to come back slowly and with purpose. This is what I’m trying to figure out right now. I’m a bit stuck in the past at the moment because I am wondering whether if I’d stopped more I’d not only have learnt a little bit more but also been in warmer more cycle friendly climates. My mind is also somewhere in the future wondering how I can get back to Scotland, my adopted home, without too big a carbon footprint.
I’ll get there eventually. . .home, that is!
***For those that may have missed it I had an article published in The Conversation about my trip which you can find here.