We all get to a point after high-school when we are supposed to choose what to study. In my case it made no sense to choose anything at all while I didn’t know what else was out there. The answer was simple: I needed to explore.
The world was an unknown reality and I needed to get to know it better before deciding to spend the next three years learning about anything else. So I took off from Portugal – this time last year you could find me somewhere between Sydney and Byron Bay on a spontaneous road trip with people I met along the way.
I arrived in Australia. It was only when I got off the airplane craving for the beginning of something great, ready to go see all Australia had to offer that I realized I had no clue where to go.
I remember telling friends and family just before I left that “everything” was sorted. Well, with “everything ” I meant I remembered to print the boarding pass and I had decided which book to take.
I got out of the airport and sat down next to some palm trees. I wasn’t worried or scared, neither over-excited nor anxious about being so far from home and by myself. It felt right. There was a stillness running through me that let me know I was where I was supposed to be. By the end of quite some time spent thinking about where I could go, I had to accept that the only place I knew in Sydney was the Opera house. The good thing about not having a plan is that there is no right or wrong, better or worse – so I got up and asked directions to my first stop.
While in Australia I went from place to place as I would find work in exchange for food and accommodation, I got lifts from strangers who became great friends and I lived with no rush since all I was sure of was the present moment. I saw my first whale jump from the coast with one of my favorite people, and I shared those seconds of magic when a whale reaches out of the ocean with friends who became my family as I settled down in Coolangatta. And as I decided I was in heaven and that was the place to stay, I changed my visa to one I could stay longer, for many years to come.
Time went by, but I had no rush and no plans. I have never been good at being on time, and for the first time in my life “on time” had no meaning at all.
One day I was there, and the next one who knows where I could go, who I might meet, what might happen. I worked in Hostels for crazy Aussies and cafes for lovely people, and I learned so much from each of them. I met friendly people on trains, streets or really anywhere I was open to share a smile and maybe, sometimes get a weird look on someone’s face in return. Some people became dear friends, travel pals for a while and some would just smile back and keep on going.
And here I am, one year later back where everything started, my hometown in a small Portuguese village. Life flows sometimes in ways we don’t desire, I would have never come back but visas are a complicated matter.
Meanwhile, I take the key lesson learnt on the other side of the world into my daily life: the appreciation of the present moment and the great possibilities always ahead of us when we are open to being caught off guard. Traveling with no plan teaches us to appreciate the present because you are no longer wishing for a future adventure, you are living your desire already. I will keep living my daily life focusing on the present.
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