1 Apr

12 months ago, I was in London maniacally preparing for a work trip to India and Nepal. This was how I spent my April: spending time with an organisation working with deaf-blind children in rural Gujurat;, visiting the biggest red light districts in Mumbai; celebrating Nepali New Year (2067!) in the pure mountain air of Pokhara where street children as young as 6 stick their heads in plastic bags to sniff glue.
Over the course of three weeks, I was inspired, challenged, and humbled. And I still haven’t found adequate words to describe the Mumbai brothels I entered in particular, or the energetic children (they are just children) whose mothers work in them.

This was the first of intense work trips for me in 2010. I returned to India and Nepal to visit NGOs, as well as Bangladesh and Cambodia in August. In terms of personal travel, I had the most beautiful romantic time in the south of France and Italy. And in June, my love and I broke up, in Australia of all places. I escaped to Switzerland in November to visit some close friends I hadn’t seen for a long time. 10 countries in 2010.

I ended the year in a state of exhaustion- a tiredness that was partly physical, but mainly wearing in emotional and mental ways. All this to say, I took a huge decision, to leave my job after 3 years in an organisation which had been so good to me, and move in with my parents for a few months for the first since I left home in 2003. This was a simple choice in many ways, that of spending quality time with my parents, both of whom I enjoy being around, in the sunshine of the Middle-East where I grew up. But I was still terrified. I have been very goal-oriented over the last few years, and as I was ringing in the New Year in January, one of my first thoughts was, ‘Now what?’
So I have worked hard to remove the ‘what’ from that question, and just bring the ‘now’ to the centre, closer and closer. I have been able to take a step back and appreciate things for what they are. To focus on personal relationships, to reconnect with my parents as an adult, to make time for friends. I feel rested and stronger. My brain has reassessed certain experiences and made healthy space for some new ones. Some things I will process for a long time, some images I will keep with me, and that is okay too.

This has turned out to be a transitional time, one that I connect a bit with ‘coming of age’, which I know is traditionally associated with a young person’s transition to adulthood but which I now feel people go through at different points throughout life. Perhaps that is why it is a theme that is come up in all of the books I have read since the start of the year (more detailed post about the first few just below).
In all of these books, as different as they are, I have connected with the ideas of growing, questioning, longing, adapting, changing. All characters seem to be questioning their life, finding themselves in situations they might not have prepared for, eventually changing in ways they might not have predicted. I suspect this might be me projecting a little, an Anais Nin case of ‘we don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are’. How do you see things right now and are you happy with what you are seeing?


4 Responses to “Now”

  1. Lily Kwok April 1, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Nice lovely reflective post… and inspiring travel stories!

    • z April 1, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

      thank you!

  2. annabelvita April 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    Oh god, yes, this. Now and What.
    I delved a little bit into the twenty something blogosphere and there seems to be a thing called the quarter life crisis. I know that’s pretty american touchy feely talk, but I do think there’s something odd about this stage of life.
    It’s a bit like (laboured metaphor ahead) the first time you use your arms when you kick off from the side of the pool. Graduating and that first job search is such a slingshot into the world and then you lose your momentum and have to find a second push.
    Or something!

    • z April 2, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

      I’m starting to think there is something odd about every stage of life, hehe. Being a child was pretty alright but then being teenager was hard-going, the transition to being a student wasn’t easy for everyone, then there was the transition to not being a student and being a fully-fledged adult. Getting that 1st job and settling into it took a while, then now there is the 2nd job thing. Oh, and learning to drive which I never fit in anywhere else! Then I guess moving in with someone/commitment marriage is a bit of a challenge, motherhood an adjustment. Then… empty nest syndrome or whatever? can’t even think about retirement… though our generation probably won’t have the luxury of worrying about that, haha.

      sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent! but yes, this living business is definitely a lot like swimming and learning different strokes and/or jumping into different depths. I’m having fun with that metaphor, can you tell? love!

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