Travel as a metaphor

This month’s theme for a simple year is travel, which is pretty good timing considering I’m going on a 2.5 week holiday over Easter! Anyway, the writer wrote how travel can be a metaphor for life. How much I choose to pack on my travels reflects how I choose to live my life.

So how do I pack for travel?

OK, so my colleagues will probably laugh at me. I’ve been known to check in luggage for short trips to Melbourne. My reasoning, being:

I hate carry-on luggage. I’d rather carry my purse with me on the plane and have everything else checked in. I don’t want to worry about cramming everything into my carry-on, dragging it around with me at the airport, then struggling to find space in the overhead locker. I’ve already paid for checking in luggage. I might as well make the best use of space. I honestly don’t mind the extra time it takes for me to have to wait for my luggage to come. I prioritise my convenience over that.

I’d rather be over than under prepared. I don’t want to risk not having a fresh piece of underwear. To be fair, if it’s a short trip, I already lay out my outfits for each day so I don’t have to worry about mixing and matching. Also, I like doing other stuff when I’m out. (Vague, I know.) I mean, I like exercising or checking out the hotel pool. So I bring stuff like gym gear or my swimwear in case I have the time to make use of the facilities.

Granted, those are pretty short trips, and they’re mostly to hotels. (I don’t backpack much.) I don’t think I over-pack… I just don’t under-pack. I’m not super efficient at packing and I’m honestly fine with it, considering I’m still within my luggage limits. I don’t want to struggle with laundry or stressing over optimal combinations of tops and bottoms unless I really have to.

So… upcoming 2.5 week trip. I’m already wondering about the best way to pack for this. I definitely think I’ll have to do laundry at some point… hmmm. Challenge is that I’m going to colder climate, so I’ll have to pack my cold weather stuff, too.

So… what does this mean about how I “pack” for my life?

I guess it means I don’t want to be a super minimalist? Haha. I still think there’s room for me to declutter, but I’m not too fussed about having my apartment become really bare. I value convenience over effort, which probably means I’m fine with having slightly more clothes if it means I don’t have to do laundry as often, or something.

But yeah, still figuring this thing out.

“The best is yet to come.”

I know this phrase is bandied about quite often, but there is something about it that just doesn’t sit well with me.

I mean, yes, if I’m currently undergoing a massive tragedy, then this is a great way to remind myself that this bad spot I’m in isn’t going to last forever.

But, if I’m at the other 95% of my life where things aren’t catastrophically bad, I think this phrase has a tendency to turn into an unhealthy obsession with a future that has not yet arrived, while not fully appreciating what I have now.

I was listening to a podcast on Optimal Living Daily based on Leo Babauta’s articles on The Tragedy of Missing Out and Inhabiting the Moment.

The podcast really drove home the point about how important it is to focus on the present and not be too caught up in the future. My life right now isn’t perfect (is anyone’s?) There are aspects of it that I’m admittedly dissatisfied with, and there are things I’m working towards. But I don’t want to keep telling myself that the best of my life is yet to come. Because life is what’s happening right under my nose.

Realistically, though, “the best is yet to come” doesn’t seem like it could apply to everyone. I know people whose lives ended on a sour note — estranged from their loved ones; bankrupt, while leaving behind a young family to support; passing away just when they were putting their life together. Real life tells us that there is no guarantee that all lives end on a high, or that if we live long enough, we will eventually see the fruition of all our dreams.

The phrase seems to me like a bit of a delusion. Personally, I don’t find comfort in the fact that the best is yet to come. Because I’ve already had some pretty awesome moments in my life, and I don’t like the implication then if the best is yet to come, then those great things I’ve experienced don’t really matter as much. I want to value the things I have now, not to be continuously telling myself that the future is going to be so much better.

I do tell myself that good things will happen to me in the future.
But I also tell myself that bad things will happen to me in the future.

In the meantime, I’m just going to focus on this moment and live my life.

Resting vs. laziness

Right now, I’m trying to balance allowing myself to rest versus falling into laziness.

On one end of the spectrum, I’m being kinder with myself when it comes to recharging, even if it means staying at home most of the day (or the entire day). I work regular office hours Monday to Friday, so previously, I was obsessed with making sure I had stuff going on during weekends. I’d consider weekends wasted if I didn’t have a big event or activity to go to.

Well, I realised that with my lifestyle, I’m getting a big chunk of my social life in the weekdays, anyway. Since my office is in the city, it’s easy for me to meet up with friends for lunch or dinner or go to events after work.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and reflecting lately (this blog is an offshoot of that) and I’ve noticed the effect it’s had on my mindset. I’ve noticed that I enjoy living in a space that is clean and tidy (with my baked goodies on hand). Since then, I’ve been kinder to myself about just blocking off time to recharge and reflect at home, or if I spend a chunk of it doing housework or cooking or baking.

At the same time, though, I don’t want to waste my time slacking off. I’m trying to figure out where the line is drawn between allowing myself time to recharge and being lazy.

So far, I’ve come up with this: recharging is intentional. I feel refreshed afterwards, and realise that I wouldn’t have done things differently. When I’m slacking off, there’s something I know that I have or want to do, but the reason isn’t that I’m too tired; it’s that I’m lazy. It’s not energy that’s the problem, it’s willpower and motivation. When I cancel something because of laziness, I eventually feel like that time is wasted — I usually spend it in an unproductive stupor, maybe mindlessly surfing social media or watching Netflix. I don’t feel any better afterwards; instead, I regret at not having made the effort.

To be fair, I don’t fall into this trap when it comes to keeping appointments with people. I’ve never been the type to back out of things last minute because I suddenly don’t feel like going. Since it’s a willpower problem, I make myself go (I mean, there must’ve been some part of me that was really interested in the activity otherwise I wouldn’t have said yes in the first place), and I usually find that once I’m there, I feel much better and I end up really enjoying myself.

One of my friends has a reputation for being a flake. Recently, I ranted to a mutual friend after she backed out last minute from something I organised. My friend told me, “Oh, she’s really like that — she’s a flake.” I also remembered another friend who’d said the same thing about her. It made me think — what a horrible reputation to have! To have people talk about how you’re a person who doesn’t keep their word, and who is easy to fall into excuses with the slightest inconvenience! People do notice these things though — I haven’t seen that person invited to our recent get-togethers.

My problem is sometimes I can’t do this for personal tasks. When it’s stuff with other people, where there is a set date and time, I’ll definitely be there. But when it comes to things I have to do — like housework, or keeping in touch with people — those things gets pushed later and later. (Maybe I should start imposing deadlines for them?)

While writing this post, I realised — I want to be known as someone who got a lot of things done. Not because I crammed my schedule full of things to do, but because I didn’t waste my time doing things that didn’t matter.

Reclaiming the little moments

Don’t get me wrong, once I get on the train, I pull out my phone or iPad and start reading or listening to my podcasts, just like the rest of ’em. And I check my personal phone a bit more often than I should at work. But… BUT! One thing I want to do in this Busyness month is to reclaim the little moments.

I’m talking about the little snippets of time… waiting in line, being in the elevator, arriving early at an appointment. Those unplanned moments in between the big events where I’d be tempted to whip out my mobile phone to keep myself busy or entertained.

I’m not too bad at this, to be honest. I do most of my driving without listening to the radio; one time I was on a long drive with some friends, and one of them asked to put the radio on because she couldn’t stand the silence. I never use my phone when I’m crossing streets or walking in public places (unless I’m looking at directions) or getting on/off public transportation — I admit I get a bit annoyed at people who do that and during rush hour and end up slowing down everyone else. (Sometimes, I peek at what they’re doing on their phones that’s oh-so-important — it’s usually a TV show, Facebook, or a game.)

I realised that these moments of time are too brief for me to do things efficiently anyway, and filling it with junk information wasn’t helping my case. I need a bit more time to get into the zone for me to properly read whatever book I’m reading, or to respond to an e-mail, so in these short moments, I usually resort to random articles or Instagram. And really, they don’t add that much value to my life… I’m letting myself fill my time with unimportant crap and feeding an addiction to junk news or social media. I realised that somehow, I had put “be updated on my Instagram feed” and “see what’s going on fluff news websites X, Y, Z” on my to-do list. Now I’m taking it back.

(For the record: One of my biggest fears in life is becoming someone who can’t even do #2 without their mobile phone.)