One day when I was doing my weekly cooking in a hurry, I suddenly realised that I have stopped living in the present. Perhaps, I have never lived in the present. Always thinking and planning for the future – the near future, the far future.
No wonder my brain always felt like it was going to explode.
So I went on an escapade.
In a Cornish city, I took all my time browsing for bags in my favourite shop, deciding which ones I like the most and didn’t buy any in the end. Then I went back to the B&B I stayed in – which turned out to be the home of the city mayor – and watched two episodes of The Apprentice and You’re Fired in the bed whilst eating dinner and chocolates.
(Shopping, eating and watching catch up TV in bed are luxuries I do during my holidays. That tells you something about my normal life!)
A year after getting my UK driving license, I finally picked up a rental car reserved under my name and drove it. Oh yes, I certainly stalled on a steep hill, went into the wrong lane, parked like a woman (it’s all about the stereotype!), and probably annoyed and confused all the cars behind me by speeding up and slowing down in the most inappropriate speed zones.
But I also sang along the good old tunes as I drove – the songs that didn’t necessarily mean much but simply brought me into the fragmented memories of all the places I have been, people I was with and the emotions within.
GPS was switched off for most of the time, and I was free. So I chased the blue skies and white clouds; a viaduct; the ocean; the smell of freedom; the sun; and the sunset. I was free from time restrictions and the knowing, and took pleasure in discovering the places that no one would have gone if they were introduced black and white in a guidebook.
How about a yacht harbour where rows of yachts lined up like soldiers on both sides of the path under the cloud-ridden sky; their names shone under the occasional ray of sun – “Polarbear”, “Hot Chocolate”, “Deltaskelta” – and they stood proud?
How about driving north from a well-known surfers beach only to arrive at the next town that took my breath away as I stood on top of the cliff and the roaring waves were just there, under my feet; where surfers fought the chilliness of spring and swam against the strong currents, determined to ride the same waves that had beaten them down numerous times?
How about getting into my car desperately at 7.50pm so I could drive to an isolated spot and quietly watch a sunset, which turned out to have ended much quicker than I thought, but just stunningly pure?
How about going on a 2-hour walk along the countryside just because I paid the car parking fee? How about giggling at funny signs, tasting local produce, admiring charming cottages and luxury houses and trying to taking pictures of myself that would be proof of “I was here”?
It was 2.5 days of wandering and letting go (plus perhaps 1.5 days of travelling on ridiculously slow trains) to fill me with energy and smile.
It is true. Travelling does something… magic, perhaps, and whoever said, “It is about the journey, not destination” was a genius.