I left England in August of last year. I went straight to Plakias in Crete to see my father (for the second time that year) and up until the end of October had a whale of a time fishing, swimming, shagging and drinking.
Then I moved to Australia (via London) and did some superbly awesome stuff and had some well wicked adventures.
What I’ve found in the time I’ve been vagabonding around is that my perspectives have changed considerably, especially around the concept of a rather irritating word. The word ‘should’.
My time in Plakias was very sweet, both the 2 week jaunt in July and the 8 week mammoth session from August to October. However my days were marred with the little voice in my head telling me that I “should’a” done more. Or done it differently. Or done special things. Or done it in a way that would make it perfect.
Ever since I was a kid that little voice in my head has been there. It tells me that perfection is achievable if, like an artist mixing colours on a palette, you try and try and get that PERFECT mix.
In Plakias I’d get up around 10am and have a cup of filter coffee and an omelette for breakfast. Then I’d eat and drink them on the balcony overlooking town. Afterwards I’d walk with my father to check the mail at the post office (nothing to bourgeois as postal delivery to personal addresses in this Cretan fishing village). Then I’d go with Dad to his local bar for a few drinks and then go fishing for a few hours or maybe for a swim. I’d go for a run in the late afternoon and then spend the early evening having a beer or three and writing my blog before catching up with friends.
Even reading back that last paragraph, this sound idyllic and was but that little voice was always there telling me that I maybe I should’a found a better spot to go fishing. That maybe I should’a taken a different route to go jogging that night. Everything and anything I’d done was open for analysis from that little voice in the back of my head.
It’s that part of me that wanted everything to be better than it already was. Even though it was already magnificent.
In Australia I’ve learned to take things a little more relaxed. I bought a second hand car and drove a 2000 mile round trip from Sydney to Broken Hill and back (via Newcastle). When driving alone like this the only thing you can do is relax as there is nothing that can possibly improve upon seeing sunsets (and lightning storms) at Mundi Mundi lookout; visiting the Mad Max 2 museum or having sex with a lesbian while couchsurfing at her place and who said “I’ve never been with a guy before you. There’s lots more hair than with a woman”. I visited zoos, saw the fireworks in Sydney Harbour on New Year's Eve and trained in Krav Maga.
A lot of the monologues and nagging from my little voice come from having been conditioned to keep my mouth shut as I grew up. Goading, name calling or even physical attacks were things I was told I deserved and ‘answering back’ would only increase my misery tenfold.
Now, that little voice has moved from telling me that I should’a handled the bully differently, to telling me that my days could be better if I only did things a little differently.
To be honest I don’t blame the voice. It was a safety valve during my childhood to prevent me either committing suicide or killing other people with frustration & rage. Now it’s purpose is defunct but it still inhabits the same office, albeit with a different role to fulfill. Used to providing self preservation tactics it now passes its time tutting and sighing at the things I do.
4 days ago I arrived in the town of Blenheim in New Zealand’s southern island. The scenery is about as beautiful as you can possibly get and it is a gorgeous place to just walk around (or in my case, hire a bicycle). The first host I had with AirBnB left me a reference which said:
“It is encouraging to host a person who is so openly unashamedly appreciative of the region of Marlborough, and also of what we offer. Thanks Lance for taking the time to walk the dog, and glad that you found the bike ride an interesting experience.”
I hadn’t tried to impress her and to be honest, I only took the dog out because I wanted to. I did it because walking a dog that likes to play Fetch in such lovely countryside, was a pleasure.
Yesterday I cycled a return trip of 40 miles on a hybrid bike I hired from the local cycle store.
Today I went for a slightly smaller bike ride, did some yoga and then another bike ride to the supermarket 3 miles away, to get something to eat.
That little voice was nowhere to be heard. There was nothing telling me what I “should’a” done differently.
For once I’m totally content with what I have and where I am.
It feels like it should.