Yesterday I had my last night in Fiji. As I finished my meal and sat back, full and content with my time away, the peace and serenity I had enjoyed, all the restaurant staff gathered to sing me the traditional farewell song of Fiji and thank me for my visit and wish me a safe journey home. I cried. I have been all the way around the world and back and never felt as welcome and appreciated as I did in Fiji. I was on a trip there for two days’ break at the end of my annual 4 weeks of holiday time. One would never imagine a country could have such a strong impact after just two days. Yet it did.
I realised this month that I was on my way to mastering the ability to live in the moment. I was certainly back, living under the lucky star I had always felt guided me, and being in my Bubbles of wonder and miracles that Clare Dea talks about in her book, One Breasted Goddess. You cultivate your passion, you live the life you want with less things and more experiences, say the Minimalists. Well, as I listened to their podcasts back to back on my journey across three Australian states this blustery winter, I realised I was on my way. Travel is my passion. I live for it, I long for it, and I feel happiest when I am doing it.
My lust for adventure and search for places I had longed to go sent me this month to dinner beside fireplaces and meandering walks under the late Autumn colours in the pre-snow mountain villages, and to lazy café lunches and relaxed spa soaking in hot-spring territory on a rainy Winter’s day. It sent me driving across Australia up to kangaroo country, where I watched them jumping through the rugged bushland, past pristine lakes and through lush green hills, where I stopped for pictures along the way. And now, here I am in Fiji, listening to crashing waves and snorkelling above rainbow fish and bleached out coral that was once as bright as the fish, in a time before climate change changed the country forever. It has certainly been an amazing trip, filled with many good memories.
As my holiday draws to a close and I return to work, I feel well on my journey to living a life with less things and more experiences. Rising above the day to day distractions and making life exactly how I want it to be. We are only here once, so we owe that to ourselves.
In this daily life in isolation, the practice of intentionalism can be a bit skewed. I feel like we have learned not to take for granted the simple freedoms of walking to the store, having a takeout dinner on a Friday, being able to walk down the street even, breathing fresh air from our lips unmasked. Seeing a smile. Touch. Hugs. Drinks with friends. Roadtrips. Airports. Journeys. It’s no longer just a given. Being at home all the time comes with its own drawbacks now. Lack of motivation. Fatigue. Loss of energy. Difficulty to concentrate. The repetitiveness and the monotony. Groundhog day everyday. It’s much harder to be intentional with your choices, your days. But you can be.
The other part of this reflection, that has been important for me and never far from my mind, is the other people feeling the weight of the lockdown: the people who thrive off tourism in developing countries. Fijians. Africans. Moroccans. Anywhere. People whose governments may not be rich, or may be corrupt, and whose livelihoods depend on us ‘privileged’ travellers visiting their lands, engaging with them, learning about their culture. They don’t have welfare structures to fall back on, or economies that will help them get over the lack of income for months on end. It makes me think, the best intentionality I can have amongst all of this is to go back to wherever I can, and support them again. Enjoy their lands, their food, their friendliness.
Intentionalism covers so much, from how you spend your money, to how you spend your time, where you spend your time, and who with. It’s such a mix of self-care and connection. I hope you stay your course through this rough and tough year, and I hope I do too. We just have to remember that bigger picture. Good luck.
One last thing – here’s a link if you’d like to hear the Fijian Farewell song. Then imagine yourself alone at a table surrounded by every waiter and waitress in the restaurant in their cultural dress plus a little ukelele, serenading you.