Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Head/Heart: December 2015.

Last year seems so far away, but in reality it was just a month ago we finished celebrating Christmas, and I was getting ready to fly off to Canada. Peculiar, how the structure of time can allow the concept of a year (and whatever came with that year) to disappear, shedding our old skin to make way for something new.

I didn't take many photos between Tasmania and Canada. I concentrated only on being as present as possible in those three short weeks. Taking everything one day, one me at a time. If you've been following my last few posts, you'll know I carried a lot of pain around with me in the last few months of the year, and I'm still slowly letting it go, gently waiting for more of me to come back to the fore.

That's the thing about travel—I have no expectation that I will be different (happier) when I am in a different place, however in taking everything one day at a time; in having mental space; in aimless meandering; in having a direct experience with your newfound surrounds; in being over 15,000 kilometres away from home: I am more able to let go. Not all the way—but just enough that I see glimpses of my true self again.

What I'm grateful for:

Time with my little brother.

Since moving out of home I rarely get a chance to spend quality time with my siblings anymore (especially as my sister lives interstate). As my brother is the youngest and we're 6 years apart, I'd say I've spent the least time with him, especially because I moved out just as he was getting into his late teen years and we've generally always been at different stages of our life. We all share a close bond, which I'm also thankful for because many people I know don't have close relationships with their siblings. Unfortunately my sister couldn't come with us to Canada, but I'm so glad I was able to spend two straight weeks travelling with Martin and my brother before we left him in his new (albeit temporary) home of Montréal, forging new memories over snow, hot chocolates and foreign adventures.

What I've been thinking of:

Who even knows now...
It's hard to think about what I would have been thinking in December. I would have spent most of the month making sure everything was sorted for Canada, Christmas and beyond. I've never travelled over the holiday season before, and whilst it was great, it certainly makes a busy time of year even busier. What I do know is that I spent a lot of December yearning for the future: yearning for the day we would fly to Canada, yearning for the new year. All that yearning to be anywhere other than where you are only causes more heartache.

What I'm excited for:

A fresh start.
Another year full of new potential. I'll write in more detail about this in my January Head/Heart!

What I've been doing:

Travelling through Canada.
(You probably already knew, sorry). Whilst I didn't spend the whole month in Canada, I did spend the last week of 2015 there so it was worthwhile mentioning here. I'll be elaborating on this in my next post too.

What I've been reading:

Reading: The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton
I finished this book over the holidays (I finished it on the plane, actually; nothing could be more apropos). De Botton is not for everyone, but I particularly enjoy his wit and his writing style. The Art of Travel discusses our need to travel, how we travel, and why we travel, providing insights by example of other brilliant minds such as Van Gogh, Wordsworth & John Ruskin.

I really enjoyed the chapter “On Possessing Beauty” and in it discovered a kinship with John Ruskin, who, much like me, was fascinated with the beauty and minute details in the most ordinary things, and who hated the haste of the modern tourist. After all—how could we ever hope to be happy anywhere, even whilst travelling, when we move in a hurry? Were we ever really even there? This is something I'm mindful of when travelling, and make a concerted effort to leave spare hours and days for wandering wherever possible. De Botton & Ruskin also discussed photography's role in travel: how, while photography makes possessing the beauty of a place very possible, it further enables the tourist to unwittingly pay less attention to what they should instead be seeing.

This is one of my favourite quotes by Ruskin in the book:

“No changing of place at a hundred miles an hour will make us one whit stronger, happier, or wiser. There was always more in the world than men could see, walked they ever so slowly; they will see it no better for going fast. The really precious things are thought and sight, not pace. It does a bullet no good to go fast; and a man, if he be truly a man, no harm to go slow; for his glory is not at all in going, but in being.” 
—John Ruskin

Below: in anticipation, December 2015.

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