Joy

Baby, We Were Born to Run

So, after all these years of running, seeking, and hunting for joy, I thought I’d share the 5 things that might be useful for you if you’re searching for a heady shot of delight in the everyday.

I’ve been a runner my whole life.  Not in the traditional sense, obviously – because I’m built like a Shetland pony – but metaphorically speaking, I’m an amazing runner.  

When I finished high school, all I wanted to do was run away from my tiny little town – where everyone knows everyone and you can’t sneeze without someone telling someone else about it; when I fell headlong into love the first time, all I wanted to do was run away to the other side of the world to begin our fairy tale life together; and when I felt weighed down with the monotony of life a few years back, all I could do was sell everything I owned – just to run away in search of excitement or satisfaction or something equally intangible and out of reach.  

So, after all these years of running, seeking, and hunting for joy, I thought I’d share the 5 things that might be useful for you if you’re searching for a heady shot of delight in the everyday.

Right. Let’s do this!

EXPLORE YOUR OWN BACKYARD THROUGH THE TOURIST LENS

I was lucky enough to grow up within spitting distance of Wilson’s Promontory National Park – or “The Prom” as it is more commonly known in my ‘hood.  The best memories in my collection are from camping trips and hiking adventures at The Prom. 

It’s a magnificent part of the world, at the southernmost point of mainland Australia.  Spanning more than fifteen thousand hectares, the Prom is mountains, beaches, islands; it’s a bush walker’s paradise and a camper’s delight.  

In recent years, the Prom has taken a beating: raging bushfires, tsunami-style floods, landslides and so on.  The landscape of the place may have altered since my childhood, but thankfully the beauty remains the same. 

At least once a year I go to The Prom and explore my own backyard through the tourist lens. Something happens to me when I drive through the gates into the National Park.  I revert to the local customs as if they are innate, forgetting I’ve been a city dweller just as long as I ever lived in the country.  I drive more phlegmatically, giving the pointer-finger farmer-wave to every car I pass; and I breathe deeper – more gratefully – ingesting the pure air.  

It doesn’t matter the season, every time I play tourist:

  • I feel my heart thump happily as I meander up Windy Saddle, through the lush greenery of the scrub, and along the boardwalk, on my way to Sealer’s Cove.  
  • I savour a homemade picnic (a cheese platter and a bottle of red) and the spectacular views from Fairy Cove.
  • I stare at the weather barometer outside the visitor centre and it triggers the memory of my dad’s daily ritual with his own atmospheric pressure measuring device.  (Every time my father walked past it, he’d tap maniacally at the glass and pronounce to anyone in earshot that “the change is on its way!” – whatever that means.)
  • I smile at the grommets struggling to zip their wetsuits as they race each other to the surf’s edge. 
  • I grin unabashedly at the BMX bandits in rowdy packs, shouting challenges (“Bet you can’t beat me to the shop!”) as they frantically pedal past. 
  • I lay on the breathtaking shore of Norman Bay after dark,  staring up into the vast, twinkling universe overhead, smiling into the glimmering expanse, mesmerised by the sheer magnitude of stars and satellites and planets visible without the light pollution the city too easily obscures. 

Joy in your own backyard isn’t difficult to find – you’ve just gotta go looking for it. The easiest way to do this is find the places nearby that people will literally travel from the other side of the world to appreciate. 

Experience the wonder in the familiar by exploring your neighbourhood through the eyes of a tourist. Try it. Trust me – you’ll never see your world as anything but extraordinary again. 

REVEL IN THE JOURNEY, NOT JUST THE END POINT

I am grateful to my parents for many things, but none more so than their gift of the travel bug.  I was bitten young – at age 7, to be precise – when my family took a six-month time-out around Australia in an old, white van.  We spent whole weeks on secluded beaches – in naught but our jocks – swimming, exploring, marvelling at the beauty of our big, sundrenched land; we learned to duck-dive under waves and waterfalls; we clambered through crevices and canyons and gorges that are now no longer accessible to the public without qualified guides and umpteen safety harnesses – and we did so each time without hesitation because our dad had taught us to be utterly fearless, oftentimes to the distress of my poor mum.  In showing me the diversity of our country – and exposing my siblings and I to innumerable experiences – the oldies gave me a childhood full of memories that spur my desire to keep wandering, to keep wondering about the adventures in store, today and tomorrow and the day after that.

As Michael Palin so aptly puts it: “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall happily be infected until the end of my life.”

The best thing is, travel doesn’t commence on the day you board the plane, or get on the boat, or alight the bus or hire car, but on the day you spontaneously decide to explore anywhere-but-here.  

You can spend hours thinking about the inspiring, beautiful – sometimes absurd – adventures that will unfold on your travels: the gloriously insane anecdotes that you’ll be able to add to your burgeoning collection; the people you’ll connect with – even if only for one day; and the moments that may seem so insignificant at the time, but that’ll no doubt jump out at you in sudden flashbacks, in the years to follow. 

Look forward to letting go, to stepping out of the defined roles of home, to breathing without feeling like the weight of expectation and responsibility is sitting stubbornly upon your chest.  Enjoy the journey of life and travel, just as much as preparing to reach your destination, because this cultivates a freedom that can only be attained by embracing the scary and uncontrollable, the unknown and the exhilarating, the unfamiliar and the new.

Looking forward to the journey is much like that indefinable period of time when you move from subtly acknowledging a crush, to openly lusting after them, to finally, FINALLY experiencing that first passionate kiss.  The excitement of the dalliance doesn’t just wait in the holding pen to be released with the first physical encounter – it surges forth from the very moment you realise this is really happening!

Marvel at the opportunity to be whichever version of yourself you choose when you consciously partake in “the journey” of life. If you feel like: 

  • Being a barfly, yucking it up with an excitable local in The Big Easy, be it!
  • Adopting the persona of “enigmatic introvert” – she who wanders the bleak streets of the Windy City – lost in her own head, that’s alright!
  • Being the storyteller, the joker, the entertainer – you can comfortably try on the role for a day, a week, a month, whatever!

Revel in the entire journey of your next adventure, rather than anticipating your arrival at the end point.  Your newest quest has already begun – if that’s how you choose to view life. 

CREATE PLAYLISTS FOR YOUR LIFE’S SOUNDTRACK 

Dare to tell me songs don’t initiate visceral memories and I’ll call you a liar. While our sense of smell is the most powerful trigger (for making long forgotten experiences slap us upside the head), songs too, have a similar impact. 

If you play:

? Mr Jones by Counting Crows, suddenly I’m stealing the mic off the one-man band in our local pub to duet with my girlfriends – only to be chastised because “this isn’t f*cking karaoke night”!

? At Last by Etta James, my heart automatically feels fit to burst just thinking about walking towards my husband, to vow until death.

? Hey Ya! by Outkast, I’m immediately 23 again and happy-buzz drunk with my BFF in the kitchen of our little flat. We’re flailing and shimmying in our PJs, sloshing the wine in our mismatched glassware and wagging our fingers at each other, demanding “Shake it like a polaroid picture!”

One of the simplest ways to find joy and meaning in your memories is to create playlists for your life’s soundtrack. 

?Make a playlist for a roadtrip with your bestie that you haven’t taken yet, but that you WILL, damn it! 

?Compile a collection of the songs that light a fire in your chest and have you involuntarily blurting, “OMG, I f*cking LOVE this one!” 

?Create your ultimate desert island jukebox playlist of the 100 songs you will listen to on repeat, every day for the rest of your life.

Make it. Listen to it. Smile. Feel. Rinse. Repeat. 

Just do it already – playlists are life!

MAKE NOTE OF WHAT LIGHTS YOUR FIRE AND BUILD IT INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to find out what lights your fire and build it into your daily life. When you love what you do, it shows in your attitude, your demeanour, your relationships and life outlook. If you’re ready to feel happier, more confident, and more successful, find the one thing that makes your soul surge and leverage it. 

For you, maybe that means:

  • Finding your tribe and scheduling a non-negotiable quarterly catchup – where you drink Bailey’s at the kitchen table of a secluded AirBnB, listen to golden oldies and laugh and talk and learn new things about each other until dusk melts into dawn.
  • Taking a solo road trip, winding the window down, turning the music up and relishing the time alone with your thoughts.
  • Surprising the people you love with a thoughtful gesture, kind word or spontaneous adventure.

Really, it doesn’t matter what lights your fire, so long as you can articulate that there is something that makes your world a richer, more meaningful place to be. 

So ask yourself, what lights you up? And then go out and make it a part of your daily life.

SEEK OUT THE HIDDEN NARRATIVE

If you want to form meaningful relationships and build powerful connections, seek out the hidden narrative. We might all be able to hold a conversation and exchange pleasantries, but our bonds can’t strengthen if we don’t deep dive. Hunger for the stories beyond the facade. Be inquisitive. Seek to understand others on a deeper level. 

What interests me most about social media (on any platform of choice) is the hidden narrative.  I want to know the stories that I will never be privy to – no matter how well I know my ‘friends’ or ‘connections’ or ‘followers’.  

Behind every incredible photo, every gushing status update, every selfie, every obligatory group shot, there is a story of buried truth and distorted reality. Maybe it’s:

?We both look amazing in this light – but three minutes earlier we had a stupid argument and now I can’t even look at him. 

OR 

?We’ve been friends for years, but I love her in a way that feels a lot like…forever. I wish there was a way I could let her know.  

OR

?By the time my colleagues realise I’ve resigned, I’ll be half way across the world on a one-way ticket to reinvention!

The next time you interact, dig a little deeper and go hunting for the hidden narrative – because THAT is where you’ll find all the delights of meaningful human connection.


The truth is, sometimes, we have to stop running and slow it THA-F*CK down, so we can enjoy every moment, so we can see the extraordinary, the meaning and the sheer bliss in what we’d otherwise dismiss as ‘just day-to-day’. 

GO! Find your happy place in the space between words, in the weighted pause after a deep breath, in the shadows of your everyday life. She may not be hollering at you across a noisy room, or waving her arms flamboyantly under flashing neon, but if you take a moment to stop and look around, you’ll find your happy place waiting patiently in your periphery. Go find her!

Check out Mr Jones HERE

Listen to At Last HERE

Watch the music video for Hey Ya HERE


© zing & moxie pty ltd d/b/a silver penned writing studio
 
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