French flight attendant

On my way at last … “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu

I have way too much baggage, as I have always suspected, but the cold weather in Sydney kind of necessitates it.  It was really confusing packing because there are four different stages I need clothes for, Sydney, plane travel, walking and conference attire.  I worked it out in the end, but my head was in a jumble. I’ve never left in stages before, it has always been straight out from down under with minimal layovers.  I had a whole Italian meal going on in my suitcase and backpack – lasagne layers of clothing, charger cord spaghetti and contrary to Oprah’s advice, filling up on bread with all my notebooks.

The glow of dawn was stretching over the tarmac and parked planes as I completed my morning pages sitting next to Qantas (or now I’m in Syd) Quannas pilots’ favourite watering hole (rest assured caffeine, not alcohol). It is of course a bookshop containing a cafe and my usual hang-out when I’m leaving Melbourne.  I get to indulge my love of seeing men in uniform, and wonder whether I would have made a good pilot.

Given my impending travel destination, imagine my delight when I was serendipitously greeted at my Tullamarine gate by a poised, greying woman with a French accent. Of course I had to say “Bonjour, parlez-vous français?” and we had a lovely tête-à-tête because either the plane was really empty, and there weren’t any other passengers boarding, or I was just last to board. It turns out it was a bit of both. After a mid-air breakfast containing 6 teaspoons of sugar (spelt out by Sarah Wilson), the same lovely woman wafted my way, telling her colleague she needed to serve my beverage because I need to ‘practice my French’.

This sounds like a full-on morning, however I even managed to finish reading Meditation in Action by Chögyam Trungpa on the plane – thanks for the loan Dorothy!

It feels exciting to finally be flying … maybe in these modern times “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single flight” would be more appropriate.

Endings or Beginnings

As I start to reach the last few days before take off, you know the ones, where you have lots you want to do, but in actual fact the list just turns into ‘what am I realistically going to get done before I go’, and ‘what will just have to wait until I get back’, I’ve been rummaging again through my morning pages, and the words “And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings” Meister Eckhart, jump out at me.

Facebook has an uncanny knack of offering just the right pearl at the right tiime, “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings” Lao Tzu.

It is hard to see the magic in a process that has made you fearful and sick.  It is no secret that my worklife has been crazy for the last few months. The repercussions of maintaining my own truth in the face of almost overwhelming pressure at work have seen me nearly cave. But I have managed (probably due to the unending ears and shoulders of my Philosophy class, some chosen colleagues, family and friends – you know who you are) to just keep it together to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. Moving states twice and packing up to attempt a new life overseas, were all easy by comparison!

I read somewhere this week about fear being like a beacon – where you sense it, that is the direction to head in. There was great fear present in my recent decision to leave my job. Letting go of parts of our lives that we have built into our fabric are always going to bring up many strange and unwanted emotions and ideas. When we attach meaning to what we do, particularly when we feel it is worthy, helpful or just and then contemplate life without it, what then does our life mean? What do I ‘do’ instead? For me this process of leaving was much more than just about how I pay my rent when I no longer have work.

I can remember my grandfather talking to me once when I had just got a new job at the Bureau of Statistics.  He was quizzing me about how that job might help people.  This is a family theme that has been strong, and it weighs heavily on me when considering my path for the future.  Do I need to have a job in which I am paid to help people?  Am I comfortable in letting go of that expectation of myself, to always be helping, fixing, sorting out, advocating?  This process brings me to a new place in which I might choose to do those things and not get paid to do them.  Or is there even a possibility that if I do what I love to do, and follow my heart, as the popular mantra seems to suggest, that I might help, just by being me.

Are these realisations actually what might be referred to as the magic of a painful ending?

This ending has been the source of many beginnings also.  I have reached a new comfort with sharing my difficult times with other people, letting them see me being vulnerable – not an easy thing for me.  As the days go by and I begin acknowledging the huge change I have just made, I realise this is right:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!” W.H. Murray.

You know you’re onto something when a friend emails you a small job opportunity which joins the old life you never really left (earthy and natural) with your unfolding passion for writing. I described it to her as re-arranging my neural pathways. Some may call it magic. It was palpable – the feeling in my brain of accepting that this is a new way to think of myself, as a writer. Even four hours a month, it would be a beginning. I’m going to trust it.