Thursday, 16 August 2012

Call of the Heart

Another day and another opportunity to write and to create, but more importantly, an opportunity to let me soul flow onto the page before me, unfettered and free, revealing my inner thoughts and feelings.  Perhaps that may seem dangerous to some, to spill all of your deepest feelings onto a public blog site, to reveal some part of your soul, but the way I see it, I am me, I am Andy and I am happy and content to be me.  Sharing my soul with others helps me to reveal the treasures that are locked away, that my waking, conscious thinking cannot fathom.  And besides which, if I speak to someone else out there and assist them in some small way, then, it is worth every letter and every word that I type.

I was thinking this morning of the life of a traveller and what determines the cafes that we frequent.  Is it the aroma of the coffee?  Perhaps it is the price of the drinks?  The clientele?  The choice of background music? (I've got The Doors playing Soul Kitchen - so I've picked a good one this morning)  The atmosphere?  The appearance and personalities of the staff?  I'm sure that all of these things are important, but today, as I entered the cafe, I did what many other travellers do: I walked in and before I ordered my coffee, I started to look around.  I looked down at the ground, at the fittings and furniture, and I traced my eyes all around the lower part of the brown, mocha and chocolate coated walls - designed I am sure, to invoke in the mind the colours and hues of coffee and coffee beans.  I was searching for something.  I noticed the comfortable and beckoning leather armchairs, I saw the secluded table by the side of the mock(?) fireplace, the table by the front window with perfect street viewing opportunity, but today I needed to discard such places.  I had other urgent need.  I was in search of what has become one of the most important things a traveller has need for - power for my ailing laptop battery.  And it struck me this morning that this is perhaps, after the obligatory wi-fi, what has become the most important feature of a cafe to a traveller.   
Travelling. Moving.  Being on the road.  Jack Kerouac had something.  After coffee this morning, my project is to head to the la Grande Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, and find me a copy of A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  I saw it in a book store one day last week and I avoided the temptation and rising urge to purchase it.  But the thought of reading it has stayed with me and I hope to find a copy this morning.  I realised a while ago that the books I choose to read have always involved adventure and travel.  It begun with The Famous Five, progressed through The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and has continued with reading such classics as Gulliver's Travels, Robinson Crusoe, Moby Dick, On The Road, Call of the Wild, Walden (Life in the Woods) and others.  I also read true stories of adventure like Between a Rock and a Hard Place (later 127 Hours), Into The Wild, Touching the Void, Up the Yukon.  I dream of adventure, I dream of travel.  It is the thing that stays in my heart always.  I can feel it there, with each beat of my heart it calls out to me.  Go find a mountain, a lake, a river, an ocean, a deserted beach, a forest, a valley. Go. Go. Go.

I've realised that this was my calling in life.  It never really mattered what I did, I just needed to travel, to be having adventures.  Even in my professional working career when I would head off on a business trip, to me, it was an opportunity for adventure.  I can remember distinctly my very first overseas trip.  I was asked to go over to Orléans in France to assist on a project.  I'd only ever flown once before - a return trip from Athens (we had driven there by car - a story for a different time) and that was with a privately chartered plane.  Now, I had to take a taxi to Heathrow airport in London, fly over to Paris, rent a car, drive on the other side of the road for the first time (in the UK they drive on the left side), drive on the other side of the car for the first time (right side for the UK, left side for continental Europe), drive and navigate myself from Charles De Gaulle airport, around the Périphérique of Paris, find my way down to Orléans - a drive of around 130km (81 miles), find my hotel, find the IBM location and then make the return trip two days later. And I was on my own.  I know that by making this first trip on my own, I set the wheels in motion for much of what followed in my life.  I overcame my doubts and fears, I successfully found my way to Orléans, even if I did get lost once or twice, and most importantly, I did it on my own.  I looked upon this trip as an adventure and after having returned home, I yearned for more.  More importantly though, I had proved something very significant to myself - I was able to travel on my own.

I never saw business travel as a pain, I saw each trip as a chance to travel, to explore, to watch the clouds from the plane window, to see rivers, valleys, forests, mountains and oceans below, to see and experience things that could never have happened to me had it not been for my opportunity to travel.  I was grateful for each time I needed to go somewhere.  And I firmly believe that each of these trips helped to awaken my heart, to unlock the voice which I had silenced for too many years.  Magic happened because I let it.  Magic happened because I became open to the possibility of miracles.

I have been fortunate in life, luckier than some, not as lucky as others.  It is not how much luck we encounter in life, it is what we choose to do with it when the moment arrives.  Stand and look and ponder what to do, dip a tentative toe in, or plunge head first into the abyss?  And it also occurs to me that even when we think that times are bad, we have luck on our side, protecting us and guiding us to some place new.

Life.  Let the bugger flood in.   Let it fill your sails.  Blow you where it will.

I found this poem posted on Paulo Coelho's blog today, so I am going to share it here.  It seems rather apt:  

All The Hemisphere

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