Today I awoke to a wonderful email from my lovely friend, Anna. She had read one of my recent posts, questionning how I would be able to leave this adventure behind and come back to the reality of life in London. It made me think a lot, both about this and future adventues, but also about how lucky I am to have such wonderful friends. I hope she doesn’t mind me reproducing some of her email here:
”I just read your last blog with the usual fascination and jealousy and felt impelled to impart some traveller-to-traveller insight into your ponderings on whether this can change you. The simple answer is you have already been changed by the experiences you have had and those will never leave you. Ýou can’t stay the same as you are now otherwise you wouldn’t be able to operate in London, but somehow deep inside you are different. I think, for me at least, this comes out most in times of the usual rat run crises, stresses and strains. There is something of travelling as you have done which means that perspective can be easier to come by. Hold onto this, as it is one of your most valuable lessons in life. Not that it is all zen, but you can remember much quicker that life is good. And most importantly, you will remember that the world is an amazing place, and you have barely begun to scratch the surface. So much more to see and do. Relish these last moments but know that your return to Blighty is not the end, just a new beginning.”
My email from Anna made me pause to think about two things: friends and future travels.
I feel so very lucky to have such amazing friends in my life, family included. While I am sad to see my journey come to an end, it is the thought of their smiling faces, their laughter, their arms reaching for the bottle to pour me another glass that makes me feel happy about going home and not dwell on the sadness I feel about this wonderful journey ending. They have shown me such kindness and warmth, humour and love inspite of the distance and time differences while I have been away – Mel’s long emails about life back home, packed with hilarious anecdotes and the news items that really matter to me; Louise’s spontaneous text messages to tell me she misses me and can’t wait for me to get home; FB messages from Alice adressing me as ‘Miss Briggs’ and always so positive and encouraging of the wierd and wonderful things I have been up to; Teresa thinking of me all day on 9 January; emails from my mum and dad, so thoughtfully written and wrapped with love; the valentine’s day text from my sister; random FB chats with Dan; and messages from friends, both close and less close, celebrating my decision to travel and showing their support. I have appreciated every single one.
I have never believed that ‘á problem shared is a problem halved’ – a problem shared is merely a problem that more people know about. My independence of spirit and mind has made me guard this principle a little too firmly in the past. But over the last year, my friends have been invaluable. I am not convinced that they solved my problems for me – I maintain the key to anyone’s happiness lies with themself. But a problem shared kind of was a problem halved, as their support made it much easier for me to do my job of reflecting, processing, problem solving and starting again.
When I was in Burma I read the beautifully written Letters from Burma, which as well as giving an insight into life in the country, also provides some wonderful quotes on friendship. First: a saying from the Lokaniti, a guide to prudent living, says ”the friends who stand by you in severe ailment, in times of scarcity, or in misfortune, when captured by an enemy, at a kings door, or in the Charnel-house, they indeed are good friends.”
Second: ‘Áccording to the teachings of Buddhism, a good friend is one who gives things that are hard to give, does what is hard, bears hard words, tells you his secrets, guards your secrets assiduously, does not forsake you in times of want and does not condemn you when you are ruined. With such friends, one can travel the roughest road and not be defeated by hardship. Indeed, the rougher the path, the greater the delight in the company of Kalyanamitta, good and noble friends who stand by us in times of adversity.”
And this brings me back to this adventure. I suppose in many ways I need to switch my thinking. Yes, this physical journey is ending; in 2 weeks time I will be in cold and rainy London rather than coccooned in my travelling paradise. But I know it will continue – the fire of adventure has been lit, and its embers will continue to glow in my head and in my heart. The desire to explore and grow have been reawoken. Anna is right that I have already changed and will definitely come back different. I can say for sure that life will never be the same again. And I know for a fact that the most important constant in my life will continue to be my family and friends. Wherever I am, and whatever I am doing.