Magical Travelling Dust

I believe part of what makes travelling so magical is the fact that it forces us to really appreciate our surroundings. Who knows? Maybe this will be our last time being in the suburb of a foreign beach soaking up the sun with a stray dog dozing off peacefully near us. Or maybe till the next time we are here again, say, 10 years’ time, this place will no longer be the same as it is now; and neither will us.

This sense of urgency- the sense that if I don’t soak it up now, it will be gone forever- forces our scattering minds to retreat into its child-like state again- curious, inquisitive, and hyper aware of all our surroundings. This will not last, might as well as drink in as much as we can for now, right?

It makes sense that these fully utilised attention and awareness brings appreciation and ultimately happiness because it coincides with the notion that mindful living- the act of being aware of what’s happening today instead of worrying about yesterday or anxious about tomorrow.

I don’t know. I just think travelling is so appealing to so many people partly because it forces them to be mindful which in turns brings about a sense of slowed-down time, and clearer mind.

That begs the question, why can’t we always practice this sense of ultra-awareness and indiscriminate attention in our everyday life? After all, wherever we are, there’s always the urgency of death, hanging upon our every breadth. This life, no matter how ordinary, will cease to exist in the future. This moment, no matter how mundane, never happened in the past, and will never happen exactly as it is now ever again.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this trip in Sri Lanka, it is to really commit to mindful living because life is way too short and precious to only be alive during the holidays.

If you’d life to explore more, read my take on the art of slowness here, Slower, Harder, Better!

Hi, Wolfie.

Although it is usually not expressed out-loud, we have all been there. You know, the whole being jealous of a close friend who’s got yet another promotion that permits her to travel and earn a shit load of money at the same time, or being bitter about somebody else’s achievement especially when you’ve failed in that very same endeavour a few times in a row.

More often than not, we suppress these feelings- chastising ourselves all the while for daring to even feel anything negative regarding our beloved friends, or a complete stranger who just happens to be so much better than us in some endeavor.

 

“Why are you like this?” we would ask ourselves, “You monster!”

 

The societal expectation for us to be a “nice” person has conditioned us to critically scold ourselves as soon as any negative feelings bubble up. Our brain knows it’s wrong to feel all these, but our heart still feels them anyway. What do we do then? We end up not allowing ourselves to be anything less than bubbly, cheery, and fun to be around.

When we are sulking, angry, disappointed, malcontent, or envious, it feels wrong. We feel… guilty.

I don’t know about you, but I know I have, and for the longest time, I feel so awfully fake. I feel like there’s so much rage, so much negative emotions inside, yet I have to put out a “cool” exterior.

“No one must know,” I would tell myself, “They would hate you, you monster!”

You can say that’s yet another manifestation of perfectionism- when you expect yourself to only feel perfectly happy emotions, all the freaking time.

A week ago, I came a cross a video. Basically, it states that there are two wolves inside each and every one of us- a blue, and a red wolf. The blue wolf is our bright side- happy, bubbly, motivated, and passionate whereas the red wolf contains all of the envy, jealousy, anger, and insecurities.

If you were anything like me, you would pamper your blue wolf, feeding it, petting it, and praising it all the time.

“Who’s a good boy?” He certainly is!

The red wolf, however, gets neglected. You wouldn’t even acknowledge it sitting by the corner, waiting patiently for your attention. You would pretend it didn’t even exist. When it came running, howling for your attention, you would scold it, disown it, rationalize yourself into believing that your neglect is justified.

And that’s wrong.

How so?

Because no matter how long you turn your back on the red wolf, it will still be there, probably sulking. It will very likely grow angrier by the minute, plotting the next ambush. When the raid comes, you feel the negative feelings all at once, usually more intense than the last anger fit.

The cycle goes on and on. The red wolf comes, you beat it. It becomes more revengeful, and comes again, and you beat it yet again.

And do you know what the red wolf wants most?

You might think it wants to ruin your life, or make you a cynical person. Nope. Not at all. It is only a group of emotions. Emotions don’t become anything if you don’t act upon it.

The red wolf only wants your acknowledgement. That’s it. Maybe, it wants you to finally look at it in the eyes, and say, “Hey, boy!”

That’s it.

Because as hard as it may be for us to believe, the red wolf is a part of us, too. We can never get rid of it. No matter how hard we try to deny ourselves, we will always be capable of feeling angry, envious, and sad. To expect ourselves to be otherwise is foolish.

Likewise, Thich Nhat Hanh taught that when we find ourselves feeling negative emotions, don’t fight them. Don’t ignore them.

Just acknowledge them.

Say, “I’m feeling angry right now.”

Maybe, you might want to find an explanation for your anger. Maybe, you don’t. Whatever your course of action is, just merely acknowledging your “bad” side is enough.

When you finally allow the red wolf to come creeping near the camp fire, maybe just slouching around. When you finally accept that it’s a part of your nature, you will finally find a sense of wholeness. Allow yourself to feel all the dimensions of your complex human nature.

Now, turn around, and say hi to that red wolf of yours!