Living in the present is a concept which can be difficult to address in busy city life but it’s something I’ve discovered in leaps and bounds on my travels so far this year. To be honest I never really thought I needed to address it in my London life which I packed up for good in January 2018. I was so busy getting stoked for the next day of going to the gym, getting through another day at work, living for the weekend and figuring out what meals we’d cook for the week. I lived in one big plan of meetings, schedules and more plans. For what? To live long enough to get me into the next week – which was usually the same plan with a few minor tweaks.
And so we left. My one goal? To become human again.
No WiFi, Better Connection
Five months in, I’m finally feeling reconnected with life, love, laughter, the joy of enjoying myself. I’m loving sharing our journey through Instagram and writing little travel guides and stories here on my blog. I still get frustrated when I can’t get that photo edit quite right or the composition of that photo isn’t quite what I was going for but I can identify that’s superficial stuff. It’s never as good as the best of the best out there. But who really is the best of the best? I’m a photographer in my own right, an adventurer in my soul and I’m living for now. And the truth is, that if a little photo edit is the biggest thing I have to worry about, then I’m in a pretty good place.
Lifting the cloud of Anxiety
I don’t know where we are going next week, I don’t even know how we are getting to our next destination tomorrow! And it doesn’t worry me right now. There’s no shortness of breath or racing of my heart when I think about it. Finally the cloud of anxiety that hung over me in London has lifted. It took a while. Apparently it does. But the weight is off my shoulders. And man it feels good not to wear a cape of anxiety any more!
I feel human again.
I’ve had connections with people, nature, dogs, the mountains and the stars which I could never have dreamed of when we bought that one way ticket to India. I can honestly tell you that I appreciate listening to the birds, the palms rustling in the wind and the waves crashing against the shore. I’ve felt a shift in my thoughts, in my perception of what I should be doing and what I can be doing. I feel empowered with the thought of following my dreams because I am already doing just that. And that’s a ridiculously radical feeling I promise you.
Finding Presence Through Adventure
The way we travel is a bit different to most backpackers. We aren’t looking to hop to the next famous place for sightseeing constantly, or looking to complete a particular route. We tried that when we first arrived in India because we wanted to see a few places in a short amount of time. But we quickly realised, it’s not a sustainable (or for us a very fun) way to travel.
So, we take it slow, we immerse ourselves in the things we are interested in; whether it’s dropping a pin on google maps and going to see what that beach is all about (how dreamy the ocean, waves or palms hanging over it) or going somewhere a local has pointed out to us, or we spied on a scooter ride. Surfing, hiking, skating on a mini ramp we just found or taking part in an Ayurvedic detox. And right now – at present – we are surf travelling, following the waves and beach hopping around Sri Lanka with our boards and our backpacks, taking local transport and dropping in to any national parks we might find along the way. We’re not pros, but we enjoy it, we come out of the water with a smile on our faces and salt water on our skin. And it’s a magical way to bring energy to the soul. Finding presence through this wild and wonderful thing they call adventure is a really beautiful feeling.
Surf for the Soul not for the ‘Gram
I particularly love being in the ocean, slammed by Mother N’s finest waves, reminded of how lucky I am just to breathe when I reach the surface, not thinking about what photo I want to take next to share this wonderful place on Instagram or tell my followers how I nearly drowned (funny as you guys may find it!). As much as I love sharing moments and places in adventure and travel, it’s so peaceful to disconnect from it all as well. I might show you my moment on a mini ramp, or hanging at the beach with Mark, or me getting stoked for the surf or me against an overwhelmingly beautiful mountain to explain visually the sheer size against little old me.
But it’s important to make sure I’m doing this for the greater good. Are these photos inspiring? Will my friends and family be stoked to see these and can someone else gain some kind of fragment of inspiration? If that’s a big YES then I’ll post. If it’s show offy and braggy, it’s just not worth it’s weight in soul-sucking gold.
Are we all lost souls?
Sometimes, it feels like we are. It’s normal to feel lost. I feel lost a lot. Then I become present and realise I’m not at all lost. I’m on an adventure, the man of my dreams by my side. Surf travelling through Sri Lanka. Jeez, I’m not lost, I’m so happy to be where I am.
If you can be present and appreciate the things you are being present for, I truly believe it can be enough to help you find your way. Ask yourself what you are doing right now. Identify it! If those things in the present make you yearn for something more, it’s time to make a shift. Can you change your lifestyle? Can you move abroad or to a different town or city? Can you change your job or any little fragments in your life that will make you happy. Quit Instagram if that makes you feel shit about where you are. Quit the daily drool of Facebook if it’s distracting you from making out with your boyfriend or engaging in conversation with your bestie. Both channels are powerful marketing tools that quickly turn from an inspiring place to be, to a toxic place to hang out. Slightly ironic, I know, because I love to post and share via these channels but I’m realising that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and I’m starting to enjoy using it more than worry about it.
Are you present?
Guys, this isn’t all about me, that’s not the purpose of this post. I want to share my thoughts and feelings here with you because perhaps the same thoughts run through your head, and I’ve reached some kind of enlightenment that makes me feel dizzy with happiness and I want to share it with you all. It’s easy for me to be sat here on a swing (yes a SWING!) in a coffee hangout in Sri Lanka, surrounded by a soft breeze, lapping waves and endless palm fringed beaches. But I recognised that this is what I needed. Me and Mark recognised this is what we needed and wanted. And we made a decision to save up our money and make that transition, and take a massive leap of faith… and I’m bloody thankful to myself that we did!
Perhaps you’re stuck living in a plan. It’s OK. I promise you’re going to be just fine. I wondered when we started travelling why the anxiety was still there, why I didn’t feel relaxed, why I still cared so much about superficial things. And the truth is, it can take a long time to shake off a life we’ve felt stuck in. The first step is recognising it and making a change. Whether it’s moving to the countryside, making time to go for a surf every Saturday or Sunday, leaving your diary as an open book, your story waiting to be written.
If you’re not living in a plan, and you’ve made that escape, that’s totally awesome! Please comment below on how you found presence to help anyone else who might be reading this blog, living in a plan, feeling totally unhuman to gain their own little fragment of presence.
Looking for some inspo? Check out a recent interview I did with Nico of Indi Surfboards: Meet Nico: The Swiss man that found a new life shaping surfboards in India
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