I’m coated in a crisp shell of emotion as I sit here in Abu Dhabi airport, reflecting on the year that has been. On the way here I contemplated just how fortunate I am to have such a varied life, full of action and excitement, different people, places and experiences constantly. Never really knowing what the next destination will be until it’s right on my doorstep.
I find that the end of the year and Christmas often bring on the mood for reflection. I’ve gone through a cyclone of emotions since I left the utopia of Spain, landing in the polar opposite land of money, instant satisfaction and greed. But what I came back to Abu Dhabi for, and what I have found, is that this artificial life in the desert without greenery, fresh running rivers and plentiful wildlife, has its own special charm.
The lifestyle in a city like Abu Dhabi or the bustling city of Dubai requires one fundamental ingredient. Friendship. Without friends these could be the loneliest places in the world, and I’ve had my share of lonely days in this part of the world during my multiple travels here. But like anything, time and effort grows meaningful relationships, and that is what has fed my soul and kept me sane when I questioned my choice to take on this new direction.
Spain brought out the best in me. I was the best ‘me’ I’ve ever been in my life, and probably the happiest. I was a thoughtful, unselfish, humble, passionate, and friendly me. My personality was influenced by the nature of those around me. In Abu Dhabi I’m a slightly more selfish, cynical, impatient and reluctant me, but in comparison to the behaviours I witness around me daily, you’d still call me a saint.
I’m stepping foot on a plane back to my homeland, and although it’s one of the shortest trips I’ve ever made to Australia, flying halfway around the world for 7 days, I couldn’t be more excited. After this year I need to plant my feet on home soil again, experience the love of my family and friends, and ground myself before taking off for a new year of adventures. At this point I have no idea what it will bring, but something tells me 2015 is going to be big!
I made a huge life decision yesterday and decided to take my ULA backpack back to Australia with me. Since the beginning of the PCT in April 2013, this pack has been with me everywhere, though for the second half of this year, it has barely seen the outdoors. I’ve been walking a lot, but I have not been hiking. I haven’t slept outdoors and I’m not spending multiple days in the wilderness. Am I planning to do this again? Yes. Am I planning to do it anytime soon? Who knows. All I know is that the trail taught me to travel light, and carrying gear for a thru-hike across the world when I’m not thru-hiking is traveling with excess weight. My pack will be waiting for me in Australia when I want it, which means before my next big hike I’ll have a great excuse to go home again. I won’t stop walking or day hiking, but long overnight trips are not on my current agenda; so in 7 days I will need to say goodbye to my beautiful, foul smelling companion until the next time.
I have lived my life out of a backpack, a suitcase, and a multitude of plastic bags for so long now that the idea of owning a wardrobe is only a temporary luxury that I experience in hotel rooms. I had to pack up my whole life again last night to move out of my hotel room for 7 days, and upon return I’ll be moving back into a new room that will become my home until the end of February. It’s scary how easy transitioning like this has become.
There’s pros and cons to such a lifestyle, and depending on what mood I’m in I could love or hate it. But what I figure is that life is all about new experiences and the people you share them with, so as long as I continue to move forward and live alongside people I love, happiness should follow. I read the most interesting philosophy about happiness on my friend Leigh’s blog not that long ago. It basically splits happiness into three different elements:
Pleasure – feeling good
Engagement – living a good life
Meaning – using our strengths to contribute to a greater purpose
The last two will sustain happiness, where pleasure can be fleeting. I’ve thought about these three elements a lot during my transition back to the Middle East. My life here is predominantly filled with pleasure, whereas my life in Spain was full of engagement and meaning. But now that I have these ingredients to play with, I can try to add more of what’s missing to the mix, and see what kind of recipe I come up with!
I hope that those reading this have a safe and happy festive season, a joyful Christmas for those who celebrate it, and a New Year full of love and adventure in 2015!