Wednesday, May 09, 2012

On the Wings of Age

Time flies when you’re having fun, so the saying goes, which means, to make a cliché true, I’ve been enjoying changes on wings of passing age. I might look older but I feel younger. Change is as good as a rest they say, and time is changing the world for me once again. Life over the past few months has been full of experiences reminding me who I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going, as well as throwing in a few interesting surprises that reminded me of other ideas I'd been harbouring in the back of my mind. It's time to look to the sun once more, hoist the sails and put to sea again.

Sometimes we go somewhere in attempt to discover our inner selves, and other times we leave our usual place behind to lose ourselves in the bustle of a different crowd or, perhaps seek a relaxing retreat to settle some emotional matter, giving us a chance to calm anxious thoughts. Some take a trip to feel the sun on their face or, like so many others I meet abroad, a break from the routine and standards of home simply to enjoy cut-price beer and cheap sex.

Occasionally, often by pure chance, we who seek something more meaningful find a place that opens our mind to new ideas on the course of life, provides a deeper understanding of the nature of culture or stimulates reflections on the value of time. Either way, our awakening to a new dawn of expectation can creatively and spiritually fulfil we who travel in the desire to grow and learn through a continual experience of withdrawal and interaction.

Leaving one town or country to go to another for a longer term entails both opportunities and risks, but a fresh challenge and the development of self that comes with the adventure can make all the difficulties worth the effort of making that change. I’ve made that change so often it has become a way of life, the life I love.

Since my last post on this Blog I’ve driven from the southern shores of the Aegean to the western banks of the Black Sea, travelled from the south coast of England to the northern hills during a week of auspiciously sunny days and thrown in a few other adventures for good measure. In January I swam contendedly in the warm sun-drenched waters of the Mediterranean and comically slid along icy grey streets on the Romanian border. During March I spent time visiting friends in the UK and taught a selection of classes to an interesting variety of people in several countries.

Taking time to do some self-reflection and personal investment I upgraded my teaching qualifications through courses in the UK and went along to some superb art exhibitions and concerts.

Trying new food always excites me and gives me ideas for improving my own culinary skills and lately that has been a real part of the adventure too. I’ve also begun a new project teaching English to the managers of a 5-star hotel based in Istanbul while continuing to educate my regular students at the language school here on the coast, and I’ve also squeezed in time to work on my own visual art, hopefully with a new imaginative vision, toward the aim of showing again later in the year.

I’m a person who needs objectives and goals to give me a purpose and reason. Unlike so many today I’m not obsessed with fame and celebrity, money and possessions or small town dreams of picket-fenced suburbia. I’ve been there and done that, as they say. I’m much more interested in the complete complex experience of living, while time allows.

This post being personal commentary I won’t be spending any additional words discussing the recent elections in France, where the left-leaning party has managed to oust the war supporters in favour of banking reform. But didn’t Sarkozy look miserable during his final laying of the wreath at the VE Day commemoration? Nor will I write about the vote in Greece, where the anti-austerity party is attempting to force a coalition to denounce negotiations over the Euro that have left so many struggling to survive.

Both these results are essentially a thumbing of noses at financial measures around Europe that have seen the banking class get richer while everyone else pays their catalogue of overdue bills, and reflect a growing trend of desire by ordinary people toward establishing accountability for these schemers. However, Britain needn’t worry, for ‘The Queen’ in all her jubilee splendour is opening parliament for the next term of conservative designs to suppress the meek for the good of the wealthy. But, not a word on the earthly campaigns of those entrusted with power; this is only about me.

No one knows what the future holds, but we plan and strive and work and participate in anticipation of the future for a better today tomorrow. Sometimes our hopes are fulfilled, other times we learn to adjust the expected result of the preparation. As John Lennon sang, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” and enjoying the life you create today is the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on what is happening as you think of tomorrow.

Too many people spend their time waiting for that to come day when they can enjoy life, and forget to experience the moment of now. One day I’ll have enough time to travel, one day I’ll have enough self-belief to write, one day I’ll have enough confidence to show my work, one day I’ll have enough money to buy the things I want, the occasion to take that course, self-assurance to leave this place and be with the one I love, and on and on .. so they say.

One day like some day is a vague postponement of action and a definite act of procrastination. It is an excuse for not engaging with the world and life. It separates the achiever from the loser, the go-getter from the do-nothing, those who smile in the sunshine from those who cry in the rain (unless of course you like the rain – where the daisy blooms!), those who engage with the world from those who sit in their garden and talk of things they’d do if only .. excuse after lazy excuse ..

I lost years of my life waiting for someone or something to come along and kick-start my stuttering motor back to life after a series of incidents left me feeling powerless and alone. Slowly I was finding a way back to my rightful position when another series of events altered the plan again. A spark of life had returned and just as steps were appearing beneath solid ground a mistaken notion walked in. I thought it would be smooth sailing with sunrise as my rudder and happiness directing a course to the stars. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a failed investment of time as I learned once again the hard lesson that not everyone is as honest as we expect, trust and loyalty are vague concepts to some, and pretty outside isn’t always a reflection of inside.

However, that exhausting experience freed me from the constraints of waiting for dreams to happen and I began to shape my own future again, a tomorrow where anything is possible and all things are available with properly focussed effort. I rediscovered inner strength and left behind what was only making raising myself from the shadows of depression an emotional struggle. To do this I had to get away from negative influences and darkly depressing pressures, to create something new and enduring for myself, to go back to a life that made a positive contribution to the world, a return to the self – then things began to happen to make life healthier and more pleasurable again.

Now, I love travelling once more, I love meeting people and sharing experiences, the friends who welcome me into their lives, moments spent in calm solitude knowing that no moment is forever, visiting various countries and cities, learning about cultural differences and similarities, coming home to the place I relax after a hectic day at work, a busy week on the road or an eventful month abroad. I love what I do to earn my daily bread, the places I go to do it and the people I encounter doing it. I love this creation I call my life; I love the art of living.

I’ve learned to eliminate from my life the people who don’t deserve my trust, the people who only value what I have to give rather than who I am in my heart, the people who want more than they are prepared to give in return, and those who lack due respect for my life choices. I’ve learned to surround myself with people who place worth in friendship, whose decisions are based in integrity, the things that assist me to do my work or make life tolerably comfortable, desires that fulfil ambitions and a respect for myself that supports my current activities and future dreams.

In contrast to the photos I'm posting, the sun is shining here, baking the lush green earth into hues of brown and red, and the temperature is soaring as summer approaches with its promise of longer days, tan muscles and lightening hair. The flocks of tourists are returning with their pink bellies and lust for all things tonic and loud. But for me life for me has become real again, and real is liberating, therapeutic and invigorating. Time waits for no one and as someone with something to offer I wait no longer, I look to the sun to inspire my travels and allow the winds of change to direct me toward my next destination.

So do yourself a favour, catch the fire, seize the love, free the dove and watch your spirit fly to lofty heights on the wings of age, because that’s where real life exists. Don’t wait for others or expect politicians or celebrities to do it for you. Learn to respect yourself and others; work to complement this world with your dreams of hope and truth then genuine happiness and success will follow as surely as the sun rises.

These photos were taken in January while exploring the edge of the Carpathians and the Black Sea - time permitting over the next couple of weeks I’ll update this page with a few photos and thoughts on my recent activities abroad. Until then, drop in and say hello or tell me your own story ..and if you keep an eye on my other Blog I'll probably post a new poem or two over the next couple weeks ..