At some point all journeys must end and when they do there may be some struggle. The way through that struggle, perhaps any struggle, begins by accepting everything exactly as it is. It is from a place of complete acceptance that the struggle dissipates and happiness takes root.
How does one deal with returning from an 18-month journey cycling to Bhutan? How does one deal with anything?
Yesterday, I spent most of the day in a coffee shop trying to write about how much of a struggle it has been returning back to the UK. But as I sat in my tent, camped up in the garden of the coffee shop owner, I reflected back on the ideas I’d been trying to write about. I realised that my present struggle was no more a struggle than any I have previously had to find my way through. It is just that this particular one is unique, current, and pressing – much like any struggle, for whomsoever is experiencing that struggle.
I was bleary eyed when I stepped off of that final flight from Delhi a couple of weeks ago. And beneath the physical tiredness I knew there were many troubling thoughts and feelings that I didn’t want to look at there and then; or perhaps ever at all if I didn’t really have to. Yet for a man who is all about happiness I of course knew that I would eventually have to.
Situation unique, feelings familiar
I’ve not been in this particular situation before. For the last 18 months when someone asked what I was doing I’d tell them I was cycling to Bhutan. Simple. And contained within that was a clear and purposeful journey about happiness. It was enough to get me through much challenge and heartache. Yet since making it to Bhutan I’ve been feeling rather directionless, completely lost sometimes.
I’ve not come back from an 18-month journey cycling to Bhutan before. Who has? But then that is beside the point, because the thoughts and emotions are familiar, and the best way to approach them seems to always be the same.
Sometimes I feel sad with no idea why. My mind turns to dark thoughts. Who am I? What am I? What is the point? Old habits return. I don’t feel fulfilled and I am often desperate in my attempts to be so. Maybe it was a mistake to have returned now. Maybe I could have, should have, done something different.
Always coming back to acceptance. . .with the help of others
I had these thoughts and feelings many times on my journey, and the first step to resolution always seem to be one of complete acceptance. I am what I am and it is what it is. It is often only once I have fully accepted everything as it is that I can see with any clarity what is. When I see what is more clearly the next step and the eventual way through the struggle becomes clear. I am present, I can breathe. Change becomes possible, change takes place – without thought, without struggle. In fact, I sometimes wonder if my inability to accept is the very definition of my struggle.
It is this understanding of acceptance of what is that is perhaps the biggest personal lesson of my journey. It was acceptance that got me through everything from dog bites to embarrassing personal mistakes. Yet despite the repeated reminders still I am not always quick to accept.
It can take time, perhaps due to the depth of the struggle but equally owing to whether I am able to find support from others. Others who help me accept what is by showing acceptance towards all that I am. I am encouraged through my relationships with others to slow down, breathe just a little more, and not rush about grossly distracting myself from what actually is. I am here now though. I can see the struggle for what it is and I’m back on the bicycle. I am passing through it.