A few months ago a friend of mine I had met in Cochabamba, worked with, traveled with, laughed with, was drunk with - he wrote to me how six words I'd shared with him had really struck him. I had forgotten that I'd shared it and was, in turn, struck myself.
Wherever you are, be all there. Jim Elliot
At the end of last year as I was preparing to make the move back home to Sydney this was exactly what I needed to remember. The life I led there and then seems like a dream now as I write this from my bed in my room in the house of my family. Where I've been is no longer where I am. And where am I?
I'm in a life that is fully my own. While I dive into conversations about camping in the countryside of Cuba or teaching yoga in Mexico or building a tiny house on wheels and travelling all over the united states - my being is here with me. It's a special and unique thing to be entirely where you are. There is always the temptation to fall into falling in love with possibility to the extent that it replaces reality. There is that obsession with being everywhere at once, doing everything all the time, wanting and having all of the things. It's a special skill to learn to be where you are.
I've thought about why this is, of how and why I am here - all here - and it comes down to what I have realised are my core values. All that I need: To be part of a community; To have close relationships with people I love; To have a purpose or reason to wake up in the morning. Three things with which I could live anywhere, be anywhere. That anywhere is here.
It's been a long time coming that I have felt so together, so at ease. At times in South America my heart was falta algo. The transient nature of the volunteer and expat community I was part of meant that the friends I had made were always leaving and I was left behind. The guy I fell for went back home. When he did finally come back I was fatigued by new faces and the same beginner conversations. All I wanted was to be surrounded by all the people that I let so close to me without having to say a goodbye.
The hardest thing about South America was leaving my world open to people coming into it. With every person that left I became a little more wary of those who wanted to come in. If I'm telling it straight I became downright detached and disinterested in making new friends towards the end. I knew it was time to come home, to be amongst those who knew me best and longest and not move anywhere for a while.
This is where I'm at. I'm here at home, being all here. It's fantastic. I know more or less that I will be here for at least another year. I have some vague plans for overseas living or travel after then but they don't consume my time now or replace what I experience day to day.
How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard
I wake up, he makes me breakfast, we eat together and talk on the couch until it's time to go, I go to work which he always jokes is full of coffee dates and vietnamese rolls, I'll feel productive and challenged but will leave on time and have a few laughs with the people there that I enjoy working with. I'll plan a dinner with a friend or go home to the family. Each day I spend time with people I love, I share a meal with them and talk about what is happening in our lives, I laugh a lot. I am lucky, I am happy, I am here.
He says to me often, we live a great life, don't we? And it's not because of the places or the travel or the food - of course that is part of it - it's about the choices we make. To live fully and consciously. To live with intention instead of out of absent-mindedness. To decide why you live and what life means and to proceed unwaveringly in that direction.