I wrote this a few weeks ago, but January has sort of been a whirlwind, and internet access has been slim and limited. Here it is though... a bit belated:
2009 was quite a year! For its first six months, I spent all my time and energy outside of work to create “Love Story Soundtrack,” and make it come to life on stage with a small and incredible group of gorgeous people. In between rehearsals, I did my best to soak up lovely Montreal, going out to dine, to drink, to spend time with my friends despite my need to save money for my upcoming travels – I was wrapping up my life in Montreal… and it was no time to waste it by being a cheap hermit. Then, before I knew it, I was on a van packed with the remaining of my things, on a road trip back to Toronto with Louis, leaving behind many cherished memories, many special patches of grass, benches and balconies… but I knew - it was time to move on. After one incredible week in Toronto spent with Jane, Alex, Louis and all my dear friends from T.Dot, I was off to Taiwan to spend a week with mom and dad. I never had a moment to realize that I had just thrown everything up into thin air, not knowing what was going to fall into my arms in the next… the next… day? Week? Year? Eternity?
I remember arriving on Koh San Road, alone with my backpack, being greeted by touts after touts, asking me if I needed a room, asking me where I was from, shouting “Canada!” at me (after seeing the flag sewed on my bag)… and me, trying to not look like a first time traveler, like I was rushing past them... smiling, saying hello back, trying to figure out who I could trust. I walked into a few hostels, saw a few horrible rooms for prices that seemed much higher than what I had expected. Somehow, I knew I could find better… and yet, I still doubted whether my expectations were realistic – I had never been in Thailand before, after all. Soon enough though, I found myself a room, and headed off to lunch. Sitting alone, I looked around me to find friendly faces to approach… but alas. I had finished my lunch and no one had even said a single word to me. Fortunately, I spotted a couple from England and ended up spending the day with them, visiting the wats of Bangkok. After we separated that afternoon, I never ran into them again. We had plans to meet up again at a bar at 7pm, but somehow, we missed each other. Though if I hadn’t been alone at the time, I would not have met Lawton and Mark, with whom I spent the next ten blissful days. Then, as we sadly went our separate ways, I was on my own again in Borneo... but only for a couple of days. Soon, I had met Marie, Jack and Adrian, and Amanda, Erik and Stephen… and the list went on and on. The next chapter was going to be Indonesia, and I was lucky that Jack wanted to tag along. Soon, another wave of adventure began, and I met another herd of incredible travelers. Within five months spent in South East Asia, I had met more strangers than I had in my entire life and come to trust many of them with my life within hours of learning their names. It was incredible. While backpacking, everybody looked out for each other. Why couldn’t we have that kind of trust and generosity while living in our comfortable homes? Why do we have so much less to give when we live more stable lives?
In the last six months of 2009, I lived a life where no day was planned and spontaneous decisions were always possible. Why couldn’t we go to Vietnam instead of Burma? Why couldn’t we leave this town in two hours as opposed to two days? If something wasn’t right, there was always an alternative, there was always a way to choose the better option. I was lucky, as well, to have found Jack; a fun fellow traveler who wanted to travel the same way as I did, who became a good friend, who became a crush, who became a boyfriend. Now, six months after I've left home, I am sitting in the Southern hemisphere, living with Jack, working as a waitress to replenish my bank account… pondering what the next year will bring.
Already, I know that I will be back in Canada by June, after a year of travels. Already, I roughly know what the next six months will have in store for me… and I can’t wait to experience it all! But when I get back to Canada to start a life in Toronto, a whole new world will begin once more…
I’ve learned many things in 2009, and if there’s one thing I must single out, it is that it is possible to live the life that you want, to make choices and changes, no matter how crazy they are, that make you happy. At the end of the day, it is your life. And you must be in control of how you are living it.
So my resolution for 2010 is simply to focus. Focus on myself, on what I want, what I want to achieve… on my own dreams, on being happy. And here are a few things that, I believe, will help me achieve it:
- Forget limits. It’s so easy to suffocate your decisions with limits when living in a routine life. But the truth is – anything is possible. You can live in Madagascar if you want to. You can quit your job... you can even quit your career. You can learn how to ski. It’s possible. You just have to decide to do it… Just gotta remember – you actually do have control of your life.
- Treat everybody as equals. No matter how old or how young they are, no matter if it’s your superior or subordinate, treat everybody as your equal. Bosses have no right to talk down to you and you have no right to talk down to subordinates. We all have stories, we all have lives… we all have families, personal issues, bad days, past achievements… It’s incredibly silly how easily people can forget that we are all, actually, human beings. By treating everybody as equals, you remember that you have important things to offer, you stop feeling guilty about making decisions like saying not saying “yes” all the time, you become more compassionate, more understanding and more trusting, you realize that you can be yourself all the time, and basically, you learn to respect everybody around you, and most importantly, you learn to respect yourself.
- Screw fear! This one’s gonna be a tough one… but screw decisions like taking a long-term job out of fear of not finding one that you actually want, doing something you don’t want to do because you are afraid of hurting somebody else’s feelings (trust me, being honest is usually best for everybody, even if it means hurting somebody… the damage will be greater if you lie to yourself and the other person involved!) or keep pushing back decisions, aspirations or projects… fearing that you might fail. And evidently, the list goes on…
- Get priorities straight. Health and safety come before work. No matter how busy life gets, quality time with family and friends (even if they will always be there for you) is absolutely mandatory. Life is about the people that you love who love you back. It’s about the little things that make you smile and the big deals that make you jump up for joy. It’s about being so excited that you have to scream into your pillow… and ultimately, it’s about knowing that you can make the decisions to lead you to just that – screaming into your pillow.
So, there you have it. In 2010, I’m going to strive to not be afraid, to stop setting obstacles for myself, to respect everybody I encounter… and basically, to focus on who I am, on the things and the people that I love so dearly, and to find that my happiness will essentially, come screaming from within me, straight into my trusted pillow.