My friend has just announced she is taking a sabbatical year to go to Asia and learn all about the art of being happy.
She stares at me possibly expecting words of praise and admiration.
I stare back at her wondering what it is she couldn’t find over here in London and why it is that so many before her have ventured down the road so often travelled.
I’m aware I’m still staring, but I can’t help thinking that one day she’ll be back and her newly found happiness would be tested at every turn.
Never the less, I wish her good luck and tell her to treasure her heart.
It always amazes me when people set out on very long journeys to “find” themselves.
I always wonder what exactly it is that they are looking for.
Later on that day, as I elbow my way onto a very packed tube, I happen to notice someone staring at me (again?)…only to realise they are actually starring at the screen of their Ipad busy watching what looks like a reality TV show.
And then I get it…
In our Western society we are so enamored with the idea of conquering the unknown of a foreign land that we often miss out on the bliss every single moment can offer in its impermanence.
The following morning as I make my way into a new day, I notice that many people on my train have their noses stuck in their tablets or smart-phones.
Despite the early hour, they are completely lost in games and junk TV.
We feel we must control and define anything around us because we can’t handle the silence that the now brings.
So anything is better than the void we’d feel when we close our eyes and we are suddenly in the “unknown land”.
And so off we go to very far away lands convinced our real self is somewhere out there waiting for us.
Later on we’ll entertain friends with details of our adventures.
How we touched real poverty with our hands (Why? Is there a fake poverty, anyone?).
How we were swept away by people’s love and generosity and how we watched the sunset in awe and gratitude.
To which I always wonder what happens to the love and generosity so many times we received back home!
What happens to the random person we could have smiled at on the tube or even in the lift but we chose not to because we hate our boss, our life sucks and we can’t seem to lose the 3 pounds we have put on since Christmas?
I wonder if any of the people embarking on sabbatical breaks ever realize that their lost self was always there next to them at the bus stop!
It was always there when they unexpectedly received kindness by the stranger on the street.
There when they could have sat in silence on the train but chose to entertain the whole carriage with their phone conversations about something that only amuses them!
By the way, ever noticed how it’s always the dullest person who is the loudest and needs to be on their phone for the entire journey…IF YOU ARE THAT PERSON…please do everyone else a favor and shut up! Your mind and the rest of the world too, can do with a bit of silence, thank you very much!
Is it really that easy then?
I believe we like to complicate life as “hard” sounds better.
It gives us more credit.
It even makes us sound brave to the rest of the world, because we somehow defied ourselves by going all the way to a remote land.
It always amazes me how we’d be standing in the lift, and we’ll be staring at the floor rather than acknowledging our neighbors, because making conversation with them may end up in getting too close!
And so we’d rather go all the way to the Himalayas rather than finding life in the “now”, whatever that may bring.
So, next time you wonder if you should pack up and move abroad in search of happiness, or if you are still wondering why people in far countries seem to be so much more available and affectionate, look at yourself first and how you chose to show up every day, every moment.
Find yourself surrounded by others and catch yourself retrieving in your little world, too afraid to receive and even more so to give, because that may end up in feeling bare and vulnerable.
Feel the anxiety rising up to your chest as you look for silence but are too afraid to see what would surface within you.
Feel your heart being so closed off there is a constant tightness in your chest.
And while you are easing yourself through the day, observe the choices you make with neutrality, knowing that there is not a right or wrong way to do this.
In the midst of your day, as you keep your heart open, those faces will suddenly look the same as all the other faces you’ll have encountered in life.
You will realize how the joy and excitement you are looking for can only come from within you and can be accessed over and over again.
Most of all you will realize how whether you are here or a thousand miles away, your smile is the only ticket to that “self” you are looking for, and the more you offer it to the world the further this journey will take you.
I’m the founder of Evoking Grace, a coaching program designed to inspire others to be their very best while bringing ease and balance into their everyday life. I can be contacted by email for more details on the work I offer or to schedule a free “Wisdom Within Session“. Follow my mumbling & musings on Facebook , Twitter & Pinterest to be part of my “online tribe”.