We just landed yesterday from Los Angeles, and I’m only home for a few rich days before I head to Northern India to study. When I say rich days, I mean long lazy ones with my daughter Marley. We have nothing really planned except walking the beach on sunrise, swimming, playing with our dog. We’ll cook, feed the birds. One day there are plans of travel into the city to sit on an open top bus for 2 hours, a tourist trap, driving around the city. She’s wanted to do this since she was 4 years old and we lived in Bondi. I negotiated out of it for the last 6 years as it sounded terribly boring. Now I’m looking forward to it with her. As with all Arran and my output these last 12 months, something has shifted within me. Arran and I are hyper productive, we always have been, but with the last few years of really finding our feet creatively, we’ve somehow been able to create a level and quality of work I didn’t think was possible whilst still being relaxed and enjoying life. And I think now ( it’s an ongoing study) this is where I had it wrong earlier.
I feel the key to being highly engaged is best intercepted with blocks, periods, days, of splendid nothingness. It also helps to be bordering on obsessed passionate about what you do. But real creativity, as a life pursuit, is about also appreciating the little things, nature, the sun, getting vitamin D. Being bored. Putting our phones down. All that obvious being a content person stuff we forget about these days with all the ‘rise and grind’ messaging that makes me nauseous. My meditation practice has taught me this, that moments of ‘nothingness’ amount to more dynamic ‘doingness’. But it’s finally now seeping into other areas of my life. My Mondays are now a day off for me to just read, think, be, write if I feel like it, catch up with friends. I’ve never allowed myself this before, such is self employed life.
In LA, I was supposed to teach a meditation course, but no one signed up to learn meditation after my talk. After a 2 minute, oh shit what now heart pound moment, I wondered what else theuniverse was offering up. It’s hard to know in those moments as your mind quickly starts calculating lost income, costs, time, being away from my daughter and so on. I mean that stuff really can send you into a right spin. We drove back to our noisy Air BnB late at night and as I lay in bed with the neighbours TV blaring behind our heads, I pondered, why am I here? All the way over in LA for the next 5 days? I had done my part with Jeff Kober a few days earlier on theknowledge course, now what? As I truly think the universe has a plan, and I had done my part and showed up the best I could, the rest really isn’t up to me. If I was meant to teach new students, there would have been new students…so now what?
I woke suddenly to the sound of screaming babies next door the following morning (the joys of travel), and started texting a few students who had potentially wanted to re-sit the course, and some lovely new friends who weren’t my students (but had learnt the meditation technique I teach) and invited them over for a short refinement session the following night at our place. This ended up being a fantastic evening almost 3 hours long, where we dived into philosophy on the states of consciousness, the ego, our higher selves, near death experiences, creativity, living in flow and we meditated together. I felt alive as a teacher, and knew a small but pivotal shift had occurred in this group.
The rest of the trip, Arran and I just hung around with some of our favourite humans. We visited huge art installations, we ate tacos, we got icecream, we drank lemon and ginger tea. We drank cucumber and mint juice. I saw a bottle of ‘gluten free, vegan water’ for sale. We lay on friends lounges, and drank more coffee, and snacked for hours on end, chatting over ideas for all our small businesses. We drank red wine under fairy lights in courtyards and ate for hours with friends until the venue actually closed and kicked us out. We walked through Venice past so many homeless and were so aware of the grace we get to live in. We were invited to dinners, lunches and met the most wonderful people. We sat on Jeff and Adele’s deck, drinking strong tea with thekittens playing and the wind chimes blowing, telling stories and just chewing ideas. Arran went surfing and I watched dolphins play so so close to shore. I clambered into gardens and up ravines to photograph huge roses, coral coloure d succulents, cactuses and wild flowers. We went to thedesert in Palm Springs with friends and drove back in the dusk along the freeway with huge wind turbines turning in pink skies, popping into a casual sandwich joint for middle eastern sandwiches and strong cinnamon chai late at night. I had a hot bath in the middle of the day at my friend’s house, with the door open for fomo of the conversation happening in the lounge room and thepeels of laughter, calling out from the tub my thoughts.
And my heart sang with gratitude, and for being alive, and having so many insanely wonderful people in my life. To be able to be on the other side of the world and feel so loved, and to love so deeply these people. And to recognize that I wouldn’t have actually enjoyed any of it, all the small moments, if I had gotten caught up in a stream of negative thinking and gone home early. Theinitial plan for our trip served another purpose, a far higher one; mine and Arran’s happiness and enjoyment of our lives together.
Words by Alain De Botton ‘Advice to your 30-year-old-self’
“I would have said, ‘Appreciate what’s good about this moment. Don’t always think that you’re on a permanent journey. Stop and enjoy the view.’ … I always had this assumption that if you appreciate the moment, you’re weakening your resolve to improve your circumstances. That’s not true…. but I think when you’re young, it’s sort of associated with that…. I had people around me who’d say things like, ‘Oh, a flower, nice.’ A little part of me was thinking, “You absolute loser. You’ve taken time to appreciate a flower? Do you not have bigger plans? I mean, this the limit of your ambition?’ and when life’s knocked you around a bit and when you’ve seen a few things, and time has happened and you’ve got some years under your belt, you start to think more highly of modest things life flowers and pretty sky, or just a morning where nothing’s wrong and everyone’s been pretty nice to everyone else…. Fortune can do anything with us. We are very fragile creatures. You only need to tap us or hit us in slightly the wrong place…. You only have to push us a little bit, and we crack very easily, whether that’s the pressure of disgrace or physical illness, financial pressure, etc. It doesn’t take very much. So, we do have to appreciate every day that goes by without a major disaster.”