I’m back in the UK after spending almost three weeks travelling with friends around the Far East and Australasia.
I wanted to meet as many people as possible from as far and varied backgrounds as possible to try to understand what happiness and the reason for our existence means to them.
I’ve come back a completely renewed man, with a very different perspective on life.
The journey started in Bangkok, Thailand. The hustle and bustle of the city which is full of organised chaos is enough to leave anyone drained.
The rich-poor divide was the unpleasant side of Thailand but one evening I witnessed something that made me stop and think. In one of the grand shopping malls I heard a man say ‘excuse me’ in a Thai accent as he came up behind me. He was a shop worker, dressed in torn trousers and white short sleeve shirt that had been covered in dirt and grease. He wheeled out a cart of cardboard boxes whistling a song as loud as he could whilst pushing the cart as if you gave a kid a new toy car to play with. I was drawn to his mannerism. I couldn’t help but watch and smile as he zipped in and out of the crowd. His happiness was contagious. It left me with a realisation that happiness really is a state of mind. Can you remember the last time you whistled like that on your way to work..?
Being alive really is having gratitude for everything we have. Live free like a child again daily, not afraid of what people may think. Imagine not living being anxious about the future or worried about the past. Then we can actually enjoy what we are doing when we are doing it.
The next stop was Auckland, New Zealand. It happened to be the country’s 175th birthday, so we joined in with the celebrations by the harbour. Resembling a big city, we soon left, heading towards Rotarua, a more remote town in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand.
This place was filled with stunning natural beauty, geysers that shot up natural spring waters, and lakes omitting steam smelling of sulphur from its rich volcanic history. Green lakes, red lakes, yellow lakes, I’d never witnessed anything like it. I was shaken by the fact that there is a whole world out there where our science and technology is no where near as complex and articulate as nature. And it exists. As proven recently with the discovery of Limpet teeth. I can’t now help but think every day when I am sat in front of my computer screen, there are natural miracles happening every second in the world simultaneously.
I made a friend from Brazil on the bus on the way back from a tour. He was travelling alone and we got talking about life. He was a forensic detective in Brazil and was studying at a University near Auckland. But he told me that was just an excuse. The real truth was that he wanted to get away from Brazil and the people. It left me thinking. How can someone who was brought up in his country, the same demographics, culture and heritage, feel like he wants to get away from those same people? Surely those people must provide the greatest comfort? But this clearly was not the case. I felt sad for him initially but then proud of the bravery he had taken upon himself to uproot and explore the world.
To really feel alive, I realised, I need to really go out and experience the world. The box we create for ourselves of the country or town we live in or the people that surround us does not have to be ‘life’. Step out of that box and you may find your real home.
I was completely fascinated by the Maori history and attended a show. There were around 100 plus guests and as part of the fun we were asked if anyone would like to be the Chief. My hand shot up! I was tasked to meet the ‘real’ chief of Maori tribe, understand their traditions and prepare a speech that will win the heart of the Chief so we can share their food. The significance of the tattoos soon became apparent. Each tattoo had a meaning and most represented real life animals. For example, on the legs, the warriors would have engraved a picture of a hammer head shark. In the wild the hammer head shark is known to keep battling with no retaliation until it either wins or dies. It was interesting to see as humans we think we are the most advanced of all species. However, true tribes living with nature, aspire to the natural qualities of wild animals. An elephant can not separate sugar from sand but the ‘powerless’ ant was given the power to do so. I walked away with great respect for all creatures, each exhibiting a character we as humans can only admire.
Being alive is actaully having respect for all things. Whether great or small, human or animal. The world seems a lot more stress free when you live with humility. This opens us to learn from everyone and everything without our ego getting in the way. I’d rather live this way.
In Queenstown, in the South Island of New Zealand, the natural mountain ranges looked almost unreal. We stayed in a wool shed, at the foot of some mountain ranges where you can hear nothing but nature. The numerous stars in the sky remind you of your insignificance in the grand scheme of things.
We took a single propeller plane through the mountain ranges, watching as spring water ran down the side, creating natural waterfalls.
Getting on a boat, hovering past sun bathing sea lions, we sat literally behind a waterfall amazed at the scary power of this natural eco system.
Later one evening, we had dinner with an engineer who built the second largest bungee jump in the world. He was in the process of building his own eco friendly home. Together with his partner, they told us how they know what the rat race world is like, but they actively choose not to be part of it. “In Queenstown”, they went on tell us, “respect and status are not dependent on the car you drive or the size of your house, but rather on how much you have achieved of your true passion in life”. Respect is given if you snowboard down a new range or climb to the top of a certain mountain or become the greatest skier/surfer/rugby player. Not for the fame or money it will bring but because there is genuine enjoyment from doing it.
I realised living so you feel ‘alive’ is following your true passion. It is doing what you were created for. When you align yourself to what you actually enjoy doing, life seems a lot different. The mind does not think of extra hours of work but as an opportunity to learn more.
Seeing the city life in Sydney for a few nights, we saw the huge contrast in peoples mentality in a metropolis. But I learnt something about myself. I was offered the chance to go on a sailing boat. Not being a strong swimmer, this was not something I was comfortable with. Especially when it was in Bull Shark infested waters. But because I was not comfortable made me want to do it even more. I’m glad I did.
Being alive is playing the ‘Yes’ game. When there is an opportunity to do something…say yes! Only think about how uncomfortable it makes you after you have committed. Then there is no choice but to do it! You will learn more from an uncomfortable situation than a comfortable one.
Travelling to Hong Kong was a completely different experience. The fusion of so many different cultures and variety of people, all living in peace. The efficiency of the city and the use of space was something a lot countries will have an overwhelming feeling of reverence for. On the last night I made a friend who had graduated from university in the UK and travelled to Hong Kong in search of a new life. After constant job rejection and running out of savings he ended up sleeping on the streets. His grandparents then sent him weekly deposits so he could at least live in a hostel. But he refused to come home and kept his faith. He didn’t give up. When I met him he was currently working as a junior architect, taken under the wing of senior architect boss who met him and heard his story and passion for living in Hong Kong. He was loving life and more than anything proved he had achieved where everyone else thought he would fail. I found his story of self belief and confidence hugely inspirational.
Dream not to escape reality but to create reality. With hard work and determination it
I’m grateful for all those people and experiences that opened my eyes to the real world, having been cushioned in the cocoon we build for ourselves.
The test comes in the application of these lessons but the application now for me is no longer a choice, but a necessity.Share on Facebook