It happens, sometimes, when I am planning what’s next.
I’ll be running from that feeling of restless boredom with the present, chasing a desire to be free and unlimited again. I’ll head to the library. Start pulling any “Best Tramps of New Zealand”, “Hidden Places of the Pacific Islands”, “1000 Things to See in the North Island” sort of books I can find.
I’ll head to my computer, and pull up HelpX. Start browsing through the New Zealand category, preferably in the South Island, the Fiordland National Park, please. Pull up SkyScanner. Cheapest country, cheapest month.
I’ll spend hours, not dreaming of what I want to do next, but trying to plan it.
And here’s what happens:
I slowly get this feeling that I’ve been tightrope-walking between two cliff edges, and I’ve been so focused on just staying balanced and putting one foot in front of the other, that I’ve entirely forgotten the vast cavern of space below me. Not only that, but putting one foot in front of the other had become mundane, and I became bored with the lot of it. I wanted to run again! To jump, to leap!
But I’d been so focused on just staying balanced, that I forgot to leap and run is to fall to the abyss.
To put it less metaphorically: when I start to explore all of my options, I see how extremely lucky I am to be where I am. This sounds positive, but it’s not; it’s not based on gratitude it’s based on fear.
It’s not a, “man, I am so lucky to be here, with a job on the weekends, working for room and board, a bike to zoom around on. I’ve got everything I need.” It’s more a, “do you realize how easy it could all slip away? How easy it could be for none of it to work out?”
Then the fear-grounded self-talk appears: you’ve got everything you need, and you still complain it’s mundane. You don’t know what it is to struggle, to suffer. You haven’t proved anything. Who do you think you are, that you can do the things you dream about?
It is crazy that things are working out the way they are. There is nothing that guarantees a young female with a backpack and practically zero plan—coupled with a nearly empty bank account—“success”. And by success, I mean a roof over my head, food to eat, space to write, books to read, places to run, human connection.
And by “working out”, I don’t mean “working out perfectly”. Jaunting around willy-nilly brings up a lot of depths of Josie to work through.
It’s good, refreshing, necessary to see working as an au pair and chef in Auckland (my present) in perspective. But that perspective should be based on . . . gratitude. Not fear.
So I call out my fear.
To reimagine it, rephrase it. To not banish it, because it can’t be banished, but to mold it.
It’s not an abyss that I face. I am not tightrope walking over an endless pit. To articulate it thusly is to give too much power to the pit.
Instead, I’m going to see it as climbing a wall. That for now, I am on the green corded rope. I have figured out a routine, a rhythm, a swing of it. I know this rope. I am familiar with this rope. This rope is all that exists for me, I am focused.
But soon, I shall approach a new rope. A yellow corded rope. My green rope will end, and I must grab the yellow rope, and continue my ascent using that. It’s a different thickness, a different texture, a different give. I’ll need to spend time and energy figuring out how to work with it. How to develop a routine, a rhythm.
It’s a different rope, it might be harder to work with or shorter than imagined, but I know with increasing sureness that I shall be able to climb this yellow rope, because I was able to climb the last rope. And the rope before that, and the one before.
I need to remind myself that all of this is building. That I’m going somewhere. That I’m not just trying to maintain, trying continually to find my balance, but I am stretching up and gaining height.
Even if I fall in height, or have to repeat a rope; I’m stronger. It’ll be different. I’m different.
To put it less metaphorically: My green rope is Auckland. I am learning how to be an au pair, how to connect with a family, how to be a big sister to Samuele, how to maintain my sense of self in an established-family scenario. I’m learning how to cook, how to work around a kitchen, how to appreciate and learn the diverse lives of my co-workers. I’m learning how to bring in what I like to do, what makes me feel whole, amidst the (sometimes heavy) expectations of others.
At the end of December, I shall leave Auckland. To go where? I don’t know. For how long? No clue. But it’s not an abyss, it’s not chaos. It’s just a new rope.
Chances are, I’m not going to be learning how to be a big sister. Or how to work around a kitchen. I’ll have to learn other skills; perhaps how to connect with other travelers in a hostel. Or how to pick fruit and work out in the fields. It’s the yellow rope. And I’m stronger for having climbed the green.
This is not an exclusive travel thing, either—this is a human thing. It’s a way to approach new beginnings and making choices without a sense of irrational, unusable panic.
Life isn’t balancing on top of chaos. It’s a series of choices that we make.
Including how to see fear.
Peace and blessings,