A stranger once told me that there are always three reasons that make you take drastic decisions: hunger, despair and a broken heart. As much as banal this may sound wherever I have traveled to I have always found someone who was pushed to change pattern in life by one of those three reasons. In Peru’ I have met a man whose business failed in Australia and unable to make ends meet he looked into a more simple and spiritual lifestyle in South America. In London I have met an Italian woman who had everything – a well paid job, a house and a loving partner, but she was not happy: one day she decided to leave Italy and everything behind and found a job as a tequila girl in a bar. Many people had moved to New York to find themselves again: they had got lost in unhealthy relationships or they were still grieving the loss of a family member.
So I got to think about my own life changing reasons, yes you know that type of thinking that makes you do a little soul-searching, the way one does when feeling drab and restless, when sensing that nothing surprise you anymore and all you want is getting your luggage ready and move to a far, far place somewhere in the world. But where?
Well, I was not sure so I went to the library instead. I went straight to the Travel Section and asked for a sign – the only possible sign was to see “the intended” Travel Guide falling off the shelf right in front of me.
I waited and waited. All those guides and manuals appeared to be glued to the shelves rather than just tidily lined up in alphabetical order as they wanted to make me believe; perhaps not even a mysterious force of gravity would have moved them from where they had been placed. My eyes ran through thousand of titles: Colombia, Thailand or Vietnam? I was definitely more attracted to those exotic destinations. “That’s a start,” I thought.
In front of one large set of shelves there was a sliding wooden ladder which appeared to be rackety and wobbly, but decided to climb it up anyway. I was not really sure what to look for, all I knew was I had to give destiny a hand. As Paulo Coelho once said – The first step to go somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are right now. So I looked for any attracted images or titles, I moved books around and even looked behind some of them.
“Young lady,” An old English man spoke from behind me. “Could you please not mess the alphabetical order of those guides? Can I offer any help at all?”
“I wish you could,” I said disregarding his request.
“Well, ok. As you are up there could I kindly ask to place these three volumes in the third and fourth sections on your left under letter B and C, please?”
I rolled my eyes and took the books from his trembling hands. As I went to put away the first two travel guides I noticed I was left with a small poetry book by Robert Hass. I decided to flip through the pages and opened randomly the thin volume:
“Put it this way,” read a line of a poetry called Interrupted Meditation. “I give you, here, now, a magic key. What does it open? This key I give you, what exactly does it open?”
“Anything…” I said out loud as the question had been directed to me.
“Anything, anything! But what?” The American poet replied back through his work.
I hesitated. I put down the book, but that question was still echoing in my head. I had being so caught up in thinking about the reasons that were making me run away from my current life that I was missing to see where I was actually running towards.
Ok, something is not making us happy so we decide to move away from it. But are we simply running away? Or, are we actually running towards something?
Too often people focus on what they don’t want rather than what they want. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy: the more we concentrate on our past, mistakes and failures; more likely it is to fall into the same wrong pattern. Understand your present life and accept things as they are. Easy to say, right? But, hey, we need to try.
Whatever your reason is that has made you contemplate a life change, allow me to say that there is always a big reason above all that make you take that step: courage. I’m not just referring about the courage to hand your notice at work, sell your house or move abroad. I’m talking about that type of courage that sparks a little flame within you and make you look and find inner peace first.
In the end I went up to the old English man to hand him back the poetry book.
“Have you found all you were looking for?” He smiled rather satisfied.
I thanked him and smiled back: “For today, I think so…”