The joy of travel is losing its attraction which is the greatest news I’ve ever given myself.
Now, I know we’re in Britain, the land of flat sameness – pretty green fields, little woods, stone walls and crumbling buildings. The most exciting landscape in Britain is the Lakes District which they crow about incessantly. However, to a New Zealander, a few lakes and hills is as ho hum as it gets. However, sameness or diversity is not the issue here.
It’s not only the landscape that’s losing its appeal – most of life is losing its appeal and that is the greatest news of all. Yep, you guessed it – I’ve lost it! Me, the chap who has run AIDS workshops in South Africa, who has taught stock-whip and ridden camels in Australia, who has been an estate manager and teacher of wealthy Africans, Indians and Bangladeshis in England, who has been an accountant, receiver and TV actor in New Zealand, who has written ten books and who has done dozens of fascinating things, is losing the interest for life. The chap who has not lived in one house for more than two years, in the last 18 years, is starting to see no value in the vast variety of a vibrant life well lived. I’m not losing the will to live – just the will for life.
“And that’s good news?” I hear you ask. “The poor silly sod’s depressed, got altzheimers, lost his mojo and/or blown his foo foo valve!”
Okay, okay, you may be right. However, let me explain from the perspective of two similar journeys.
In June 2009 Anna and I went to Wales for three days. We had no plans – just set off and see where the car takes us. It was so refreshing to be in the Brecon Beacons, so different from England’s green and pleasant flatness. Real bush (not just scraggy woodlands) and mountain streams (well, big-hill streams, really) and we ended up at a lovely B&B that was booked out but we got in anyway. We bumped in and chatted with some fascinating people, chanced on many beautiful coincidences (if such things exist) and returned happy in the thought that we had “done” Wales.
Then, in May 2011, we decided on another three-day trip to Wales – to Tenby, a beach-front town in Pembrokeshire in the south of Wales. As we parked our car at the B&B, on the first day, it blew its foo foo valve and had to be towed home the next day by the AA.
As I could have predicted, I had little sleep that night as my mind, preferring to be right rather then happy, found blame for the mechanic who said the car was fine, for my employer paying me late yet again, for bloody England being so difficult to live in, for the universe being so unfair, for me being so stupid and inept, for all the planned things we now couldn’t do and for every other injustice and misery that had ever befallen me.
My ego had a ball! However, as I worked through a grievance, gave it to God, returned to peace, had another hissy fit, gave it to God, returned to peace, had another blast at the universe, gave it to God, returned to peace … as each grievance came and went, the moments and depth of peace grew and grew until there was nothing left but stillness and acceptance.
You see, some people believe in a thing called The Secret, which is that everything in our lives is there because of our thoughts. It is a stepping stone to a greater awareness that everything in our lives just is*. We colour every person, place, thing and event with whatever colours and feelings we choose. Some people like pubs; some don’t. Some people like soccer; some don’t. Some people like snakes; some don’t. Pubs, soccer and snakes simply are. It’s each one of us that give them the labels of great, awful, fun, boring, dangerous, beautiful and so on.
It was Anna and I who gave Wales the label of beautiful on our first trip. It was Anna and I who gave the label of calamity to a non-going car.
When I returned, again and again, to the state of peace, I was able to see with a new experience of clarity that a drive into Wales and a tow home on the back of three different AA vans was simply an event – no better, no worse than the previous trip.
Before we went on this second trip our English friends told us, with unbridled excitement (an unusual state for English people to be in!) what a beautiful and scenic place Pembrokeshire is and we were expecting an exceedingly amazing experience. Despite the unusually sunny day, the return to the seaside was, well, ordinary. Not bad or boring. Not good or amazing. Just the same feeling as driving into our local village. Not familiar or strange – just ordinary.
We were told that the fish and chips in Tenby were the best in Britain but, when we couldn’t find a fish and chip shop and returned to our room for wine and sandwiches, we were neither disappointed nor ecstatic. It’s just what we did.
Now, for most humans, the move away from drama, from the duality of exciting/disappointing, happy/sad, good/bad, fearful/beautiful is the worst calamity imaginable. For Anna and I it’s a life-long dream – to be unaffected by the winds of change, to retain the deep and abiding peace, despite the world’s best efforts to unseat us, to know the peace and joy in the heart of God while the insane world of duality thrashes about blindly and ineffectually.
Yes, I am losing it – I am losing the duality of a world at war with itself. I am losing the transitory fear, excitement, disappointment and buzz as a thrashing tree is stilled by the dying wind. I am learning to stand as a quiet willow, untouched by the raging river at my feet yet giving life and support to all around.
And, yes, I could have more ego moments of blame, judgement and self-flagellation. However, as I experience the peace and depth of God Within, I am more and more happy to give up the roller coaster ride on a trip to nowhere.
I am happy to give it all up! Amen.
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