November 14th is in sight and it is hard to believe how quickly this day has come, though it hasn’t always seemed that way. In this writing, I want to document some emotions, thoughts, ideas and memories that have been whirring about in my brain for the past few weeks! I hope that each person who reads this post, and future posts, will find a genuine connection to me and our relationship, as that is just as important to me as is my goal of writing for the purpose of my own memory and self reflection.
The month of October and this first half of November have been all about benchmarks for me. Finish out my time at work, wrap up my life in RI, get back to NJ and take care of my home logistics. Say goodbyes. Go. Each time I’ve passed one of these benchmarks, I’ve allowed my emotions of excitement about my trip to increase, but this has not been easy. It is a weird feeling to wake up on a Tuesday and wonder “what is my purpose today” if not to get ready and go to work? Cameron likes to point out that, if I’ve reached the point of saying that my purpose in life is to get up and go to work, then I have a serious problem! (This I know is true.)
I’ve also found it difficult to sit down and relax; again going back to the feeling of “I need to always be doing something with a purpose” otherwise I am wasting valuable time. I am fully aware that I am about to enter the next YEAR with no clear destination or action, so it is very high on my list to begin mentally processing how to be okay with this and what actions I can begin making daily in order to feel as though I am utilizing my time in a valuable fashion.
Right before leaving RI, I read a book called Man’s Search for Meaning. It was written by the German psychologist Viktor Frankl in 1946 and is broken into two parts. In the first part, he shares specific examples of situations that he faced as an inmate in Auschwitz during WWII to put perspective to some of the worst possible circumstances a human being could face in life. The second half went into great detail about his psychotherapeutic method called logotherapy. I’ve taken a line from the book in order to avoid misstating the definition:
“According to logotherapy, we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.” (Frankl, Viktor E.. Man’s Search for Meaning (p. 111). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.) This really resonated with me and I wanted to put it in a place that I can use as a continuous reference.
Another line of the book legitimately caused me to stop and momentarily process because it struck such a real chord with my own feelings:
“Let us consider, for instance, “Sunday neurosis,” that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.” (Frankl, Viktor E.. Man’s Search for Meaning (p. 107). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.)
This man LITERALLY JUST TALKED ABOUT THE SUNDAY SCARIES!! So that I can avoid turning this blog post into a high school book report, I will leave you with the final recommendation to read this book if you, too, have trouble conceptualizing your purpose. This book has been a good starting point for my own exploration of the topic.
Before leaving RI, I also had the chance to say goodbye to some truly good people in my life. I wanted to thank you each for having an impact on me, all in your own way. I am thankful that our paths have crossed in life and would not be who I am without that impact. Finally, I wouldn’t be able to close out the New England chapter of my life without mentioning the role that Cameron has played in my world over the past year. On our last night in Providence, we sat down at our favorite pizza spot (I love you, Antonio’s), took a shot of whiskey and reminisced over a beer. Living with my brother as two adults created some of the most cherished memories that I have in my entire life, despite it not being the “best year” for either of us. We’ve mentioned that we now have pure comedic content until the end of time, and there are certainly some memories that stick out in our minds. Over the year, Cam introduced me to a TON of new music. I turned 25 over a shot of Rumple Minze with my brother by my side in a dingy warehouse listening to a jam band called Max Creek. Thanks to a few cover band shows and the constant flow of music in our apartment, I can confidently identify Grateful Dead songs from the 1972 European tour stop in Rotterdam (LOL Cam!!). We survived the cold, dark winter re-watching the entire Game of Thrones series together. We ate really good food and and had one notable Sunday Funday with our friends Amanda and Bill (remember when we found Brody in the bathtub?). We went camping in Acadia National Park, Cameron’s first NP experience, and he surprised me with two cans of Foster’s over the fire to celebrate my trip. We also took care of Merlin together, my second hardest goodbye from Providence. That cat has brought pure joy and laughter to my life, as so many of my family and friends know and understand!
Back in NJ, I have tied up some final loose ends like selling my car, transferring my driver’s license and other logistical errands that I’ve had on my radar for some time now. I had the chance to spend a day with my friend Joe, another human who has left a big impact on me over our years of friendship and helped me a lot in motivation for this trip (whether or not you know it, friend!) Joe set me up with a 60 minute float at a local spa and I got to experience some serious relaxation before my trip! I will not spend time writing about the concept and process of floating, because I am still learning myself, but highly recommend looking into this as a type of wellness therapy if you have interest. Thank you, Joe, for being a positive energy in my life and being the person who asked me “What are you passionate about these days?” to which I came to self consciously accept the bleakness of my response and the need to make a change. And thank you for all of the book recommendations!!
I believe that another factor that has affected my emotion about my trip has been the overwhelming “unknown” of it all. I know that this will be immediately transformed the minute I arrive in Sydney, but for now it has been very relevant. I cannot picture a single thing or person that is going to be part of my every day life. However, I’ve now found two ideas that are helping me to feel attachment to the journey.
First is a tattoo artist on the Gold Coast that Cameron showed me a few months back. I am now totally into this girl (Alexis Hepburn) and her work and have a big hope to get tattooed by her while I spend time in that area. When I got my first and only tattoo with Cam, I pretty much thought that would be it, because I was unsure of what else in life could impact me enough to want to mark my body with a reminder. Of course with the excitement of this journey and the fact that Australia is known for incredible tattooing, I now definitely have an interest in making that happen. She just opened her books for December-February and I submitted a request! I am keeping my fingers crossed (I love her cat pieces…!)
The second idea is geared towards my increasing interest in meditation and spirituality. Here is my second book recommendation in this post: Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion by Sam Harris. I am currently reading this and already give it a 10/10. I recognize that my strong opinions towards organized religion are likely ignorant and/or inaccurate, and I am appreciating the chance to learn about how different religions approach spirituality and how you can still achieve it, through meditation, without any associated religious practice or knowledge. I am also learning the scientific benefits of meditation, which has led me towards a larger goal of participating in a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat. Think: 10 days, a vow of noble silence, no outside or inside communication and 10 hours a day dedicated towards meditation practice. Side note, I have literally never meditated a day in my life. If interested, look up what these retreats are; Vipassana is an ancient technique out of India that has been taught around the world for centuries. I recently submitted an application for the next available retreat at the location nearest to Brisbane, which would take place in mid-March. I am hoping that my application is accepted and I can begin to practice independently in preparation towards this goal. Mentally, I am also leaning towards wanting to do this for the sake of proving it to myself! Plus if I tell people I want to do it, it helps me to hold myself accountable (aka this entire trip!!) More to come on this front.
Lastly, I want to reflect on the early November weekend that I spent with close friends in Oxford, MS for the USC vs. Ole Miss game. What a time! I will always appreciate the moment we shared over coffee, around the table of our Airbnb. Surrounded by friends that I have had since literally day 1 of college (plus a few others!) we all agreed that despite distance, despite not talking to each other every day (or in 3 years.. Jamie!) we are friends. Friends who care about each others’ happiness and wellbeing. Friends who want the best for each other, while each doing our own crazy things along the way. I am thankful for each and every one of you and have real love and respect for you humans! The amount of support you all have shown me as I approach the start of my trip overwhelms my heart with warmth and happiness for which I can never thank you enough.
I am feeling relieved as I believe this was all weighing on my mind as I’ve mentally prepared for my one way flight into this new experience. I am sure that the next time I sit down to share and reflect will be an entirely new perspective, and for that I am thankful and excited. I can’t emphasize enough the appreciation I have for everyone who has physically helped me prepare, mentally motivated me and emotionally supported me so that I can wake up on Wednesday confident that I am headed in the right direction. I thank you and I love you ♥