Life's not a bucket list


Schoolgirls in Angola

“What if we are all born with a finite number of heart beats?
Each one would be precious.
I spend a lot of my precious heart beats travelling the world”

Precious heart beats

The answers to life’s big questions don’t reside in Paris or London. They aren’t conveniently presented to you after backpacking around Europe on less than $50 per day. Or visiting an Ashram in India. Or volunteering in an orphanage in Africa. Or hiking the Inca Trail.

The answers to life’s big questions lie within. They can be accessed anytime, anyplace, with anyone or with no one. You can have a wallet full of cash or not a cent to your name. You can worship God, Mohammed, Krishna, Buddha, Gaia. You can worship no one at all.

From the moment that we leave the womb we start our journey, be it long or short, towards death. Do we all have a finite number of heartbeats? Probably. It may depend on our nationality, genetics, lifestyle and life experiences. Will we live to an old age or be cut down in our youth? Who can say?

Once in a lifetime

Every moment is a gift. Every moment is ‘a once in a lifetime’. You don’t have to think big. You don’t have to climb Everest, swim the English Channel, circumnavigate the globe in a kayak. You don’t have to visit every country in the world, get married, have children, acquire Facebook friends, own a big home or buy that shiny new car. You can think small. Get up and watch the sunrise. Sit and meditate in the garden. Raise your face to the sun. Feel the wind in your hair. Laugh out loud. Life is free.

We all strive to be happy. Yet no object or act or person is a guarantee to happiness. The things that we own do not define us.

Life is not about how much you can acquire, accumulate, consume. It is not about creating a catalogue of goals or participating in a never ending cycle of desire - generating desire, fulfilling desire, generating more desire, fulfilling that desire.... Life is not a bucket list.

You are born with an infinite amount of joy, love and happiness within you. Everyone can be happy. If they choose to be.

Create positive change

This earth is home to over 7 billion people, to billions of plants and animals, to mountains, rivers and oceans.

You can travel the world and revel in all of our superficial differences, the language, food, clothing, architecture, but look deeper and you can see how powerfully connected we are.

There is a whole 'other' world created around travel and tourism. A pastiche of national symbols, rituals and icons. An appealing national stereotype. An exotic flavour. A postcard perfect world.

This other world reflects a marketing campaign designed to encourage travellers to consume. It is an industry. Behind this facade are people leading ordinary lives. Just like us they need food, shelter, security, companionship. Just like us they crave love and happiness.

The greatest force in the evolution of the human race is not competition. It is collaboration and cooperation. It is why people gravitate towards villages, then towns and then cities.

When you travel the world you see the bigger picture. How fragile life is. How in an instant thousands of lives can change. How natural disasters, war, disease, economic calamities, political turmoil, greed, hatred and crime change the course of history.

For those who survive on less than $10 a day, roughly 80% of humanity, travel must seem an indulgence. Wanton. Frivolous. Hedonistic.

For those who can travel it is an opportunity to escape, to experience something foreign and new, but it is also an opportunity for personal reflection and growth. An opportunity to recognise how lucky they are, and how unfortunate the lives are of many others. To contribute to struggling economies. To promote peace and tolerance. To participate in the conservation of the earth’s resources, for future generations and for all other species. To create positive change in the world.

Desiderata

“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence....Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe. No less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should....With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy”. Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

The idea that we should have it all can create tension, stress, disatisfaction and ultimately depression in our lives, but our happiness doesn’t rely on certain things or experiences or people.

The truth is that at the moment that we are born we already have it all.