Wednesday 12 March 2014

The Appreciation of Circumstance


I stood alone beneath the rolling neon boards, the printed pieces of paper trembling beneath my fingers as I gazed up, not entirely sure of what I was supposed to do next.

I heard an approaching clacking of court shoes across floor tiles. 

"Can I help you at all love?"

I turned to find a small, smiling woman in a brightly coloured skirt suit looking up at me expectantly.

A little bubble of excitement bloomed in my chest, and combined with an unexpected giddiness created the strangest urge to just laugh.

With a gaze that flickered down to the documents in my hand and back up to her face, I found a smile beginning to grow on my face.

Two hours before this, I'd been sat in a mind-numbingly dull lecture at Uni, watching the grey droplets of rain race against each other to reach the bottom of the window, whilst my professor droned on about the importance of using appropriate file names when saving our work.

A frantic series of events and a coach ride later, here I was, standing alone in a place I'd never ever been before, about to do something I'd never ever done before. 

"Departures, please." I said almost breathlessly, "I have a plane to catch."


Okay, so I guess I should backtrack a little. 

There's a word that I think about quite a lot. 

' Dissatisfaction ' 

I think that's a word than more or less every teenager/young adult can instantly relate to.

That unrelenting, gnawingly frustrating, throw-your-hands-in-the-air-like-you-care-way-too-much sense of overbearing dissatisfaction about, well, most things.

Love, lifestyle, career, self, money - everything seems to be sighworthy at this age. 

I'm hopelessly guilty of this, and for me, my greatest dissatisfaction and greatest fear has always been my future. What I’m really terrified of is leading an average, ordinary life with a regular job and an invariable routine, planned holidays, an average household, fixed responsibilities and not doing anything different to be remembered by.

It kinda reminds me of that Marina & The Diamonds song;

' My problem is my problem
That I never am happy
It's my problem, it's my problem
On how fast I will succeed
Are you satisfied with an average life? '

I guess it's just so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you're stuck in this hopeless rut, being unhappy but not being able to do anything about it, and minute by minute the days tick on by, and nothing ever seems to change.

But it was about a month ago, that I saw something which shocked me straight out of this stagnant place.

It was nothing but this simple post on Tumblr, and one comment next to it:

"This is what really grinds my gears. You Europeans can drive for three hours in any direction and be in a totally different country. If I drive for three hours, I just end up in a town exactly the same as mine, only three hours away."

And for a reason which I'm not entirely sure of, I just couldn't shake that out of my mind. 

I felt... guilt. 

As I looked at that post, not only did it make me realise just how much I take for granted in life, but simultaneously just how little of Europe I'd seen, when it was right on my doorstep. 

In fact, before last year, (despite having travelled a lot during childhood), I had not visited a single European city. 

I felt such guilt.

Here I was living a life that I regarded with heartless dissatisfaction, when I was completely overlooking just how incredibly lucky I was, to have come to exist in these circumstances. 

Sure, there are countless who have life a lot better than I, (and I'm not saying that an inability to travel abroad is the most dire state of poverty), but there are hundreds of millions who have it a hell of a lot worse than I, yet it was me who was sitting here complaining that I might never end up being important enough for my liking, or that my life was too boring. 

It really did have a profound impact on me. 

And in that moment, in place of being able to swap places with someone who wouldn't take it for granted, I thought the least I could do, was to fully demonstrate my appreciation for it all, grab it firmly with both hands and damned well make the most of it. 

It took less than a day to get all of the plans in place. 

Once I realised that there was no way I wasn't going to do this, I found the process to be delightfully easy. 

Because screw it.

Life is too damned short, and youth is even more fleeting.

If you don't like something, change it

If you wanna do something, do it. 

And before you start making up reasons and excuses to just not bother, instead, focus that energy on finding a way to make. it. happen.

Because life is not going to wait until you're ready to make the most of it.

You have one shot and not a lot of time - it's up to you whether you're ready to acknowledge that.

And so, just like that, I stuffed some clothes in a bag, finished my classes for the week, got a coach to the airport and jumped on a plane. And it all cost me less than £100.

It really was that simple. 

My heart pounded with an excitement I'd scarce known, as the mechanics of the plane rumbled beneath my feet and the girl next to me shot me a curious smile.

I gripped onto the armrests as the great jet began to edge forward, and when it suddenly lurched into its full-scale assault on the tarmac, I couldn't help but let out a little whoosh - partly from the force of the rapidly accelerating aircraft, and partly from the sheer audacity and thrill at what I was doing.

I felt so, goddamn, alive.

And for the first time ever, I flew high across the planet completely alone, watching my home country slowly shrink away beneath me, the land which contained my entire life, and I gazed upon the twinkling oceans, swelling and pulsing across the surface of the planet, and in an hour or so's time, slowly descended into a completely different nation, alien to my eager little toes. 

And it was perfect.

Sometimes we all need to take a moment to make the most of all that we do have, instead of pining over all we do not.


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