Don’t wander too far

  • Humour Me
  • Tuesday, 18 Feb 2014

Setting up their tents for the night.

The first time I went camping, I cried myself to sleep. I was miserable as I wasn’t used to sleeping out in a tent not to mention in a cold weather. I can still remember trembling in the shower before turning in, because the water was cold as ice.

My first camping experience took place about 17 years ago. I was traveling Europe with some friends on a shoestring budget. When I landed at Schipol Airport, Netherlands my traveling companions who came to pick me up, took me by surprise when they announced that we were going to rough it.

Unlike my friends, back then, I did not appreciate being in nature that much. Especially sleeping outside! I disliked my first exposure to camping and allowed it to set the tone of my journey. In fact I was so focused on my discomfort that I couldn’t appreciate the beauty around me. This despite pitching our tent at a breathtaking spot in Eastern France.

So, there I was, focusing on my misery after months of planning and getting excited about seeing some parts of Europe. Yet, when I was physically there, I could not see beyond my despair. All I wanted to do at that point was to go back and be in the comfort of my own home.

I was such a creature of comfort that it tipped me off balance when I had to make do without the luxuries I used to perceive as necessities. The place we camped at, did not have a hot shower and I did not like the idea of a common washroom. To top it off, we had to start our own fire in order to cook, boil water and to keep ourselves warm.

In retrospect, the trip was a blessing in disguise. I learned many valuable lessons from it. One of which was living outside my comfort zone. It made me realise that it doesn’t really take much to be happy.

I also learned to let go. I used to hold on to emotions like anger and frustration. It used to take me forever to get over certain emotions.

Traveling also made me relook at the way I operated in life. Instead of looking in, I was always looking out for happiness. I used to see going places as escapism. The reality I discovered, is no matter where I go, if my mind is closed I’ll be stuck with a narrow perception of basically everything.

I guess it’s not the physical space that matters as much as what is in my head.

Being happy to me is a valuable yet underrated skill. Without the know-how, life can be a painful journey. Imagine feeling miserable all the time because you are incapable of picking yourself up whenever you’re down.

In order to continue to be happy I think it is important to accept where we are whether in terms of physical space or where we are at in life. As opposed to wishing we were somewhere else.

For example, if we keep comparing ourselves to others, chances are it will be harder to feel contented with ourselves. We will always find people who have more, whether it’s power, wealth or success.

I like to focus my energy on things and people I care about and finding new friends I can relate to.

I used to find connecting with people frustrating at times. It gets easier when I realised that for a friendship to work there needs to be mutual respect, honesty and the ability to both give and take. From my experiences it can be challenging to be in a relationship where one party just wants to take or, at the other extreme just wants to give.

Then again, people come from different experiences and expectations. Not everybody is ready to give or to take or even both. Level of honesty may differ as well.

I do however, find it easier to be around those who are honest. I’ve also learned through the years to let people around me know how I feel about things. This was very hard for me in the beginning as I was raised to keep my feelings to myself.

Back to traveling, I still love it a lot. But my motivation now is different. I no longer travel because I want to escape something or to “find myself.” I do it because I want to experience new places, meet new people and sample different cuisines.

I also realised that I do not always need to leave my country to enjoy beautiful scenery. There’s a lot of beauty in my own home (country).

So when you are searching for proverbial peace within yourself, don’t wander too far, the place could be somewhere in your own “backyard”.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own
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