Into the wild. Against the stream. The road less taken. No matter what I refer to my decision to venture overseas as, it can’t be made any less mind opening, challenging and life changing.
I recall the times I sat in my office looking outside at the sun. Feeling the agitation in my restlessness. Wishing my day allowed more time for nature.
I recall the times I would feel under appreciated for how hard I was trying. Early mornings, late nights, the contribution of ideas were often unnoticed.
I recall the times that what I did accomplish at my job, wasn’t anything I felt proud to tell others about. From early childhood I had a fascination with heroes. As I grew older I learned you don’t need a cape or physical strength to make that difference.
I recall the times I consoled myself by remembering that there are others worse off than me. This made me feel obligated to do something where I could, and when I did, I enjoyed it. From working with youth organisations and at a hospital.
I recall the times, even with the things I had, my life had felt like it was taking place in a snow globe, without the snow.
Growing up in the same area for my whole life, although a place of enormous privilege in contrast to where I am now, in ways, such as through the lack of variety, it was becoming a prison.
Largely inspired by buddhism, I always appreciated Buddha’s decisions to live a life void the pleasures he once knew and took for granted. Having both parents come from less developed countries, as much as I was told that I have a good life, I never understood life being any different given I was born into a country privilege such as Australia.
Similarly inspiring was Christopher Mc Candles and the movie/book Into The Wild which details his decision to escape modern / routine life and live amongst nature.
I don’t claim to be saint, I love the indulge, but I also have an interest in personal and spiritual development. For this reason I could relate to the decision made by both Mc Candles and Buddha and often fantasised about ‘escaping’.
It may just be part of the human condition, but even with a daily practice which involved expressing gratitude through my writing, I still felt like I was sleep walking at times. Going through life on auto pilot, missing the beauty in the everyday and everything.
With the diverse and ‘out there’ personality I had, my working life was also rather bland in comparision. Being unemployed, running out of funds, I was also running out of options. The burden on my shoulder to be ‘successful’ was gaining weight and I was losing sleep. It was a rough period of my life.
On my last birthday in October , almost handed by fate, I was given the opportunity to take a role in Tonga through a Government funded program. There certainly was a debate wether to accept the position, but quoting the last words I said to my mother before leaving, I knew in more ways than one, “this will be good for me”.
I was familiar with the saying “there is no growth in your comfort zone, and no comfort in your growth zone”.
So here I am, uncomfortable. Very. The mattress is sinking as I sleep, the showers provide no more than single drops of water at a time. The food is heavily starch based, processed and fried. Making the 50% obesity rate expected, but still extremely saddening to see.The sun burns and the insects bite. Time seems to be moving at a frustratingly slow pace, and the condition of standard infrastructure and facilities is a reminder of what a developing country is.
But in contrast to someone who has known these conditions all their life as home and feels rather happy in them. I’m already feeling the change.
I’m already gaining an appreciation of what I do have back home. What and who is the most important to me. I also feel without my environment, I’ll find out which aspects of my character and personality are internally based rather than dependent of where I am, what I have, or who I am with.
I feel my mind opening to accept other cultures and ways of life. The youth I know back home have iPads and Facebook accounts. Here I’ve met kids who are happy spending their leisure time doing flips off jetties. Families don’t work overtime, they spend time how they wish, because that’s how life is. Having grown up in a large city, I don’t think I’ll ever lose my ‘rat race’ and growth orientated mentality, but I hope to loosen up and remodel my concept of ‘happiness’.
Lastly, I sought to put my name onto something I could not only be proud of, but that would open career opportunities for me based around positive contributions and social / developmental change.
This blog has allowed me to take that responsibility on in my personal life, but work wise, there is an educational organisation here that has asked for someone with my skill-set, so I will do my best to improve their capacity and contribute.
The pacific islands are known as holiday locations, and i’ll certainly get the escape from my familiar town and regular routine. However, beyond the blue sky and beach, lies a series of challenges. Making new friends, new hobbies, new foods, learning a new language, new customs, basically living a new life without the support of friends and family which I honestly feel I’ve leant on too much at times.
The strength of a species is found in its ability to adapt so that is what I’ll have to do, and find out how strong I am in the process.