Sit still for a minute. Sit still and be fully aware of your surroundings. What do you hear? What do you smell? Is it the stale smell of sweat in the tube, the ever-present sound of horns and police sirens or is it a train rushing by? When was the last time you even had a minute for yourself? Sometimes wandering around the city upsets me. I look at the buildings, the bridges, the street and wonder what this place looked like before it bore the name London.
Don’t get me wrong, I chose to live in the city and it amazes every single day. No matter how often I’ve crossed Blackfriars Bridge, I’ll always try to get that front window seat on the double decker bus to gaze at the bright lights of the skyline along the Thames. When I look up though, the sky is tinted in a dark purple shade: The lights of the city have devoured the stars in the night sky. That same sky was sprinkled with the light of a million stars in Namibia. We needed no more than a blanket and pillows in the middle of the desert. It was so peaceful and quiet; the silence was deafening.
Somewhere in South Africa; driving through no-man’s-land stunned by the beauty of simply everything. It’s hard to concentrate on driving when you can’t keep your eyes off the clouds and the soft hills lit by the golden light of the setting sun. There were animals, sometimes just a silhouette somewhere far in the distance, sometimes we could have reached out of our car and touched them if we wanted to. There were zebras, giraffes, turtles and all they did was be. We thought about how boring it must be to just try to survive all day only to wake up the next day and do the same.
But isn’t it beautiful to have no obligations, no appointments, no to-do list? Isn’t is beautiful to be so free? Being at home comes with duties, a timetable that needs to be followed and things that need to be done and seem so important at that time. There’s always something that needs to be done, when was the last time you didn’t think of what you should actually be doing while you were enjoying yourself? We wake up after 4 hours of sleep already worrying whether we’ve missed out on something. Our mind doesn’t rest; rush hour has become a 24hr phenomenon.
Now go outside. Somewhere pristine. What do you hear? What do you smell? Maybe it’s the gurgling of a creek, pine cones, chirping birds. Maybe it’s waves and sand between your toes. Go to some place new. Don’t make a plan, just float. Live simple, don’t look in the mirror when you wake up. Go wherever feels right in that moment, and if you feel like staying, stay. Allow yourself to stop for a change. After a few days you’ll realise how little you need.
It were moments like the ones on top of that hill overlooking the desert in Namibia, galloping through the soft green hills of the Drakensberge or snorkelling at Australia’s beaches surrounded by dolphins and corals when I felt truly free. This is life; and no concrete jungle, no matter how inspiring its lights might be, can ever outshine the raw beauty of nature.
You can read more about Caroline’s travels by visiting her blog here at www.carolinehajny.wordpress.com