Today my boyfriend came out of his introduction to Buddhism course and posed that very question: what have you done for the last ten days?
My answers didn’t sound very impressive. I think that out of the two of us only I thought that they should have sounded impressive in the first place (have I learned nothing about not needing to fill my days up with achievements? Evidently not).
In comparison to: I’ve completed ten days of meditation and attended seminars in Buddhist theory and understanding, my ten days had the potential to sound anaemically inadequate. And yet they didn’t and here’s why I believe that to be the case.
Yes I have stayed relatively safe (if you want to use that word) in that I have not flung myself to the furthest corner to the world, arriving somewhere I do not know and organising my foreseeable future in a language that I do not speak. Yes, I have returned home. Unadventurous, it probably is called and I can see the argument for thinking it to be so.
For this month there was nowhere I wanted to go. I had no desire to pick up a dart and throw it at the map we have in the office, book flights, saying hasty and excited goodbyes the morning after. I have done it, which is not to say that it isn’t worth doing, or that I won’t find myself longing for such an experience again but simply put, this wasn’t the moment for that kind of adventure.
In realising that travel is not the only way to discover – to have taken myself outside of the very general and largely accepted idea that going somewhere is the only way to truly know oneself (and if you haven’t you are either scared or fooling yourself), I have learned to stop driving my life along prescribed lines supposedly meant to help me become more self-aware.
During these ten days I have started volunteer work, something I have had plenty of opportunity to have done abroad but have never bothered. I have returned to painting. I have continued to blog when the pull to the pursuit of doing nothing has been stronger. I have sat in a car with my friend and talked about how I am – things I couldn’t have done had I taken myself to another time zone.
The adventure I wanted to take was, I think, to be settled for a little while.
What I have done doesn’t seem like the most incredible use of time but when you, as I usually am, are constantly on the move – surrounded by the music of difference and pleasurable diversity, consumed by unravelling the unknown so you can survive, constantly taking risks (good ones and bad ones) in order to avoid sitting inside your own room, then what I have done for the past ten days has been a little adventure into normality.
I don’t have a house or an apartment. I don’t have children and I don’t know if I will have. For months I haven’t had a room to call my own and all the subtle, underappreciated perks that come with that. And I have loved it. I wouldn’t change my life at all – but I wouldn’t judge it either by continuing to ignore the biting sense of adventure that has come to me now in a different form.
So for ten days I have been what I might call boring. Considering the places I have lived and the noise of the life I have been caught up in, it is boring. Really boring. It is the adventure I wanted to take though, and I feel no shame in having remained at home.
Saying that though, I did come off the phone to my boyfriend and feel the familiar tug of where’s next and the excitement that goes with seeing him in two weeks. I think though, I have learnt not to judge myself for what I want and in just ten days, I think that’s pretty great actually.