I love my life. Truly. And each day, even in difficult times, I acknowledge the blessings within it.
Few people can tell the tales I have told, nor wander the walk-boards I have walked.
I am unmarried, childless, ageing, wandering, and wisening.
Often people look at me with a certain trepidation when they realise how often I am alone, both at home and away. They share a worry or fear, of how lonely this must be, and how terrifying also.
Yet literally as I’m typing, James Blunt comes onto the airwaves and states “My life is brilliant”. And it is.
It is intriguing how uncomfortable my existence can make people; I’ve watched people at my hotel all week sneak sideways glances at me, one eyebrow raised and a small frown on their forehead. Sometimes when traveling solo, I have received pitying words, at others I have been scooped up, collected, taken along….
Do I need this concern? Am I suffering? Am I scared?
No. Not at all.
I am concerned about my internal state of affairs. This is true. Whilst I’m happy to call a place in Africa my home, it hasn’t come at an easy price. But this is an entirely different issue to that of my wanderings.
I have aged dramatically over the last year. I caught sight of a photo of myself and friend from two years ago, and then of one taken this week. In the former, I could barely recognise myself.
And I don’t ascribe it all to stress, though this has been at large this past 12 months. There has also been the ever-growing case of awful air pollution. And very limited nutritional intake. I have worked too much and eaten too little. And though I’ve continually wanted to keep “buying local”, I simply do not fare well on the food. Yet to buy the foods my system thrives better on, is to pay out the extortionate expat prices. And this is not something that sits too well with me either. (Ultimately this has resulted in me eating in very uneven patterns, and often not of good quality. I am actually the heaviest weight-wise I have been in more than ten years. And I feel bad on it. Sluggish, dehydrated, bones-aching, bad.)
When I first arrived in Lagos, I recall being absolutely abhorred when a colleague regaled the shopping day when a cauliflower had cost her GBP12. Yet now even that can be a low price. It really is unfathomable.
The irony of this situation for me personally, is that if I work less in my own time (I run a lot of therapy sessions for children with special needs, as there is a huge demand and a lacking availability of skilled people able to do so), I would have more rest, recuperation, and time to spend cooking well. However, I would also have much less ‘free’ cash to spend on the imported goods. Hmm.
Anyhow. I’m somewhere else on the continent right now. Taking much needed time away from a multitude of commitments. Finding space to be quiet. To remember what it feels like not to be running against the clock or the Lagos traffic. And to remove myself from a sense of responsibility for others, at least in a momentary way…
I turned my phone off the day I arrived. I’ve meditated each day, and I’ve done very little indeed.
I’ve battled against a very loud mind, condemning me for not exploring, for not getting involved in the sports I love, for not pushing myself to get out there and meet new people.
And finally, almost one week in, I’ve begun to make friends, once again, with sleep.
Currently I’m in Grande Baie, in the North of Mauritius. The weather has been mixed, but the scenery always beautiful. The food has been delicious, and company that I have had, has been insightful, creative and vibrant.
But. I remain tired. I feel heavy.
Don’t misunderstand me though. I’m not lonely, far from it, though I am the only “alone” resident of the hotel.
I think really, I’m just weary.
When I moved my whole life across the continents, everything changed. Home landed truly in my heart. And I have not regretted it for a single moment.
But I don’t think I have actually stopped since…. Including dismissing the continual goodbyes I have consequently brought into my life at a crazy rate.
Meanwhile, I was lucky to meet a fellow yogi this week who recognized the fact I am a sannyasin. It was joyous, light-hearted and freeing. It was also deeply unnerving.
Much of what I had unearthed in life prior to Africa, has been laid aside. To make room for the new. Few people, locals and expats, can relate to such aspects of my life. The status of my life mentioned at the start of this post, often sets me apart too.
It can be hard for people to know how to be around me. Given how far from the standard mold I am, for a woman of my age.
Perhaps that is part of the tiredness.
I love all of the eccentricities and adventures my life brings in. I do also love friends, lovers, company. Most of all, I love freedom, and I love LOVE.
Blessed therefore am I. To sit with the discomfort of not talking to anyone for days at a time whilst I wander alone. To query what it is I want to do with my time when I have no event, party, meeting, sport to attend. To know that I am here on my own time and only I can determine the point of my compass.
The little I have seen of Mauritius thus far has been paradisaical. Fresh fish, funky music, divine beaches, turquoise seas. Anti-cyclones followed by Azure blue skies.
I will switch to the South of the island next. Hiring a car and speeding up the tranquility, to get myself stuck right into the nature and wilderness of the island.
The paper I must write, is not yet complete. Nor has my ease of self fully returned (of course these two are highly entwined). But I am enjoying watching myself in these days. Considering my impulses to move, and making myself sit.
This summer’s trip was supposed to be held in Madagascar. Yet here I am in Mauritius. And as I keep typing, every track that comes on is yet another apt tune for the current workings of my mind. If you want me, you’ve got to show me love.…… Oh so true. Mauritius is helping me do that for myself; what is doing it for you?