This is my Adventure

The following foreword, written by Bear Grylls for Julia Immonen’s book – Row For Freedom: Crossing an Ocean in Search of Hope – really struck a chord with me when I finally started reading it this weekend. It made me think about my life, my travels, my time here in New Zealand.

“All of us have adventure in the blood. Go back far enough into your family history and you’ll find the stories. An ancestor who left his homeland in search of a better life. A distant relative who fought against impossible odds and won. A family who took a risk and made a change.

That’s what adventure is. It’s about starting the search when we don’t know exactly what we’ll find. It’s about doing whatever it takes to make a change. It’s about saying yes to the struggle.

And it’s a part of all of us.

The question is, how big an adventure is each of us going to live?”

I’ve been pondering this; thinking about my current situation – about my journey to recovery from the darkness of depression, and about how I am doing whatever it takes to change. How despite the struggle, I am saying yes – because I’m not giving up hope of getting through this. I’ve had many adventures in my life – I’ve travelled to Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. I’ve experienced different cultures, made friends across the world, seen amazing places and yet somehow – this seems like the biggest adventure of all. This adventure of discovering my true self. This adventure of finding what it truly means to live. This adventure of struggling through extreme darkness and knowing I can make it.

Since my last blog post I’ve continued to write, continued to explore my senses in the world around me, continued to find joy and contentment in the little things. I still have so far to go, so much to learn – and yet I feel like these small changes I’m making in my day-to-day life are making such a huge difference.

Here’s a collection of further musings – of my thoughts and feelings when I’m in the moment, reminding myself of the incredible world around me.

**

I’m sitting at my desk at work and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, starting to feel like I’m falling back into my pit of despair. And it’s so so hard to stop myself from falling again, to stop the thoughts of hurt from circling around in my head. I can’t concentrate, I can’t think straight. I’m just staring at my computer screen, not seeing what’s on it, it’s like I’m just looking into the darkness. But then I snap awake and realise that I can’t go back there again. I need to focus on what’s around me, to stop thinking horrible, terrible thoughts – to focus on the classical music I have playing to calm me – I stand up and stretch, go for a walk, breathe deeply.

And slowly I return to reality. To try and find some small things that bring me some joy in this workplace. A cup of tea. Some music. A brightly coloured Rubik’s cube on my desk. A to-do list to make everything more bearable. These small things are enough, to raise me from darkness.

**

I’m standing along the waterfront in Wellington. Looking out at the beautiful pink clouds and the sky slowly changing colour as the sun sets. The sound of the water softly lapping on the rocks below me, the feel of my hair tickling me across my face, the sounds of passers-by and snippets of conversations. My heart feels full again at this moment of calm as I’m walking to climbing.

**

**

I’m kneeling on a rock, right next to little pools of sea water. I’m watching the sea flow in and swirl around and shrink back. The simplicity and the mesmerisation of this moment. The clarity of the water, being able to see the patterns of light on the sea bed, the floating sea weed, the tiny pebbles – it’s totally clear. I feel the water, the coldness on my finger tips. The smell of the fresh sea air. The sound of the calm lapping of the waves on the rock edge, the rush and splash of water as the waves come in at speed. I see the colours – the bright white and yellow, the muted brown and orange – on the rocks. The patterns and bubbles and lines covering their surface. The sand paper texture underneath my hand.

A huge waves comes, the massive rush, the hissing of the foam, the whiteness on the surface of the clear water. I run back, but don’t quite make it, I feel the cool spray of water on my arms. Then the calm comes… momentary bliss.

This is me, this is my emotions. The sudden rush of negativity, how it builds up and crashes – spraying over me, swirling around in me. But then the calm… the quietness as I’m coming to realise my senses, immersing myself back into nature and into the joy of things around me. It’s still a process, I’m learning so much. But I’m getting there.

**

The sound of nature surrounding me, the sound of a plane taking off, the sound of someone cutting down trees, the sound of cars on the road below. Looking out over Island Bay and the sea. The sky runs from blue to yellow to pink and blends with the sea on the horizon. The lush green trees on the hills, colourful houses nestled in between. I feel content, I feel euphoric at putting myself in this moment – surrounding myself with the beauty of this world, of this city. And it’s completely wonderful.

I feel happiness at where I am right this second. But I can’t help feeling the sadness, at knowing what I’ve lost and the knowledge of all the things I did wrong and could have done so differently. But I know that all I can do is change. All I can do is learn, and to truly appreciate and love the life I have been so blessed with.

**

**

Lying on a bench in the garden on my lunch break. Listening out for all the sounds around me. Children’s shouts and laughter coming from the nursery, the hum of traffic on the road, the beeping of a horn, the buzz of an insect flying over my head, the rustle of leaves in the trees as the wind blows – how this flows from my left to my right ear as the wind goes from tree to tree. The orange light I can see on the back of my eye lids, the heat of the sun on my face, the feel of my hair tickling my face as the wind blows.

Thinking about my senses, feeling and listening, relaxing my body, forgetting my worries. Putting myself into the world around me.

**

I can feel the sunlight on my face. See the bright orange underneath my eyelids. It’s like watching the sea flowing – the patterns forming, the tiny sparkles glistening, the different shades of orange. The sun almost burning its way through me. But then the cool breeze moving my hair across my face, the feeling of goose bumps forming on my skin because of the change in temperature as the sun fades. The sounds around me. Leaves rustling, wind blowing, birds chirping, cars humming along on the road behind, children playing. My eyes still closed, feeling, exploring and sensing the world around me. Holding onto these snippets of life, marking this moment into my memories.

**

Watching the birds flying above me. Following one as it descends higher and higher, soaring upwards. Coming to a glide as it follows the pattern of the wind. How others join it, it’s as if they’re dancing together. In unison with each other, gliding together, following one another. The freedom of a bird, flying in the wind, over the land, looking down on us. The wind in my hair as I look up at them – how it’s almost as if I’ve joined them. I’m lost in the motion and the wonder of the freedom of flying.

**

Taking myself out of my thoughts. Out of my mind. Concentrating on the life around me. The people, the buildings, the wonderful sounds of nature mixed with the raw sounds of man made existence. The cacophony of noise. But it’s so beautiful to my ears. Experiencing the motions around me, marvelling at creation, at life. Fresh wind, sea air, the incredible colours as the sun goes down on this grey day. But it’s not just grey – the different shades and patterns the clouds form as they race above me. Watching the birds soar through the air until they disappear. Forgetting my worries, the thoughts trying to entwine their wretched tendrils around me. Realising the feeling of life. Experiencing the world in a completely new way.

**

**

It’s so windy, I hear the rumbling in my ears, the feeling of ear ache beginning. And yet… I feel so alive! Sitting on the cliff edge, looking over the beach below. The coastline of Wellington. The footprints dotting the sand, the intricate trails of so many – taking steps across this beach. My nose is running. My hands are stinging with cold. But I still don’t want to leave this spot. I’m elated, the feeling of nature’s power and beauty over me. It’s so healing, so freeing, so emotional. Looking across the ocean, the sprinkles of white on the waves, the dots of grey clouds in the wonderful blue sky. Oh the wonder, the joy of opening myself to this world. Forgetting my sorrows, feeling peace descending, renewing my soul.

**

I’m standing on a beautiful tree stump on the beach. So many branches, so many twists and turns in its roots. The sound of the sea right in front of me. The sound of waves breaking, the crash and hiss on the beach. The feel of the fierce wind in my hair, the coldness and buzz in my ears, the feel of my shirt trailing behind me. The cold of my hands as I write this down, trying to remember, placing myself in this moment – immersing myself in the feel and the sounds and the cold around me. Trying to forget. The thoughts taking over my mind – trying to wash away this negativity and pain. Making myself embrace the feeling of life, of being in the here and now. Of realising that my thoughts do not control me. My thoughts, as they try to consume me, slowly wrapping their tentacles around me. There’s a better feeling than this. There’s the feeling of complete contentment at standing here on this beach on a windy day in Wellington. There’s this feeling of flying – as the wind encircles me – the feeling of freedom. Of hope and happiness and healing. I can feel the negativity unwrapping, my heart starting to beat with excitement – the feeling of amazement at myself, at this moment. Knowing I can get through this.

**

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