Recently somebody said to me, “Oh, are you still here? I thought you were off to Africa”. I’ve spent the last few years sporadically travelling in different continents and I have the habit of posting photos of countries I’m no longer in. Basically, I don’t blame people for questioning where I am or how long I’ll stay. To confirm though, I am in England living at home with my parents in Ellesmere Port. In fact, for the most part of this year I’ll be here. I’m thinking about leaving the UK in August time.
I am off-piste. Though I’m no skier, something about my life right now identifies with the imagery of being off-piste; of being away from prepared ski runs. For one, I’ve never found myself here before, but also I feel I’m somewhat observing people rush past me in a flow that I’m not in. As a faithful blogger I looked up the dictionary definition of ‘off piste’ and it said, ‘so as to deviate from what is conventional, usual or expected’. Beautifully, that summarises what I’m doing now that I am home.
I’m not employed right now. I haven’t worked since I’ve been back (which was around Christmas time, 2015). Sometimes I think about what this gap will look like on my CV but generally that feels like minor details. You see, I came back from a two-year (nearly) travelling school and I found myself feeling different to other times I’ve gone and returned home. I felt exhausted, though not the kind that seems alleviated by sleep (thus, the scary kind) and discouraged about the state of the world. In this unfamiliar posture/unknown territory/‘off-piste’ place I’ve decided to dwell a while. I want to learn about how I got here and pay attention to the lessons that are being offered. I want to learn more about how I’m wired and how I can avoid this exhaustion again. I want to strategise about how I can adjust my life in England to respond with a sense of compassion and responsibility to the poverty that I’ve seen abroad. I want to deal with the disappointments of my travels so that my gratitude for the trip won’t seem so buried.
And so, I’m off piste. I’m taking time out from the normal (busy) flow of life in the UK. I’m careful and cautious making plans, learning by trial and error how to balance my time between doing things that drain me and doing things that refuel me. I’m spending time meeting with people (it’s refreshing to not have so many long-distance relationships) and I’m spending time deliberately thinking about harder parts of my recent travels so as to organise the jumbled feeling I’m left with. Stay tuned if you want to hear more about what I’m noticing about life from the sidelines.
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