Heat & Resilience: inner peace in the face of disaster

Yesterday was hot and humid, too hot to sleep. Towards the end of last month, I wrote in my diary, ‘In the start of 2020, everything has gone wrong.’ Only 10 days after I got home, my area had a power outage due to ‘extreme weather conditions’. It lasted throughout the whole night, up until about noon the next day – one of the longest we’ve experienced. I’d just come back home from dinner, dirty, dusty rain polluting the cars on the street and smoke lingering in the air.

When I was in the UAE, tensions were rising in the Middle East due to the Soleimani assassination. People in the hostel were discussing its potential implications on travel and safety in the region. My next stop was Indonesia, and people started messaging me about the Jakarta floods. (I was going to Yogyakarta and not Jakarta, I’ll be fine, I told them.) Since coming back, there’s been a barrage of messy news articles that I don’t want to read anymore: volcanoes, fires, diseases, tremors, politics. I also caught a cold from my parents soon after returning. (I’m better now, but now my sister has it.) It did have an effect on my cycles and rhythms.

Silver linings

In spite of all this, I feel OK. I am more at peace than I have been in a long, long time. 2019 was a chaotic year, but in this it allowed me to achieve my dreams. I am happy with what I was able to do. I am at peace with the path that’s ahead of me – I can now enjoy the present. I’m no longer in a rush to get somewhere.

Actually, it’s not unusual for me to get sick after coming home from a long trip. I used to think jokingly that it was because my body subconsciously didn’t like Sydney, as I seldom get sick while travelling. However, what it ultimately does is give me a couple of weeks of solid downtime, so that my body can holistically rest and recover on every level. I always feel better coming out on the other side. This year, I’d like to focus on taking care of my mind and body.

Gratitude

I’ve been taking joy in the smallest things. During this remaining period of holiday, I’ve been whittling away at my to-do list that has built up during the travels. I have been enjoying uninterrupted sleep, unlike in shared accommodation overseas. Australia is the land of endless summer and daylight – wearing close to no clothes. The experience of other places really puts that into perspective. [The picture is from my Norwegian flight into the Arctic Circle.] When the day finally ends, I revel in the low light in my room. Sometimes, I take lengthy evening walks which do good in clearing my head. (I cannot stay at home all day every day, yet I currently have the luxury to do so as much as I need to.)

I eat out of a bowl that I made with my own hands, and this makes me happy. My Tokyo flights are booked, which lined up well with the 2020 Olympics as well as my uni break. I had a newfound efficiency and prowess in planning after that Europe trip – and that’s really saying something if you know me and how much I like to plan! I suppose that as I grow older and wiser (my wisdom teeth are coming out), there are more experiences that I’m willing to forgo or leave for another separate return trip. (This will be my first time to Japan, and it seems like this is one country that people are always happy to return to again and again. There seem to be worlds to be explored within.) It was easy to identify which were the most important parts for me to see and do.

It also struck me how incredibly lucky I have been throughout these ordeals of the world. I left Australia to travel last September. That’s when the fires started. That time I transited through China to get to Europe; the airline even gave me free transit accommodation for the night. This time, I got home before the coronavirus blew up and tightened airport border controls. I’m healthy now, so I feel safe.

Finally, do you know what’s one thing that has never failed me? Music. As I realise this entry, I’m running a Porter Robinson playlist. A couple of nights ago, my girlfriend spontaneously asked me to go see Solange at the Opera House. On my way there, I bumped into my former vocal teacher performing al fresco on a balmy evening. Solange’s concert was an inclusive space, free to dance and express and be part of some beautiful art.

So, here is a little slice of happy thoughts and unassuming joy.

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