I now lack ambition.
When we started writing ‘morning pages’, way back in May 2010, which led to the decision to sell our home and become nomadic, one of the things that arose was the idea that we would write a book about our journey, and that it would become a way to create income. I decided that the blog would be a ‘platform’ to get the word out so we would already have a built-in readership for the book. How many times have you heard that story?
The blog began years before we became nomadic as a way to share our travels with friends and family. I simply emailed them whenever I had a new post ready. Then when we became nomadic and I had this grand idea that it would be a launching pad for a future book, it suddenly became this ‘platform’, this ‘project’, this full-time job: what with photography and photo editing, writing, replying to comments, following other bloggers, welcoming new followers, generally being active in the ‘blogosphere’, becoming more active on Facebook, and networking in a small way: suddenly it was all taking up a lot of time. So much so that I stopped enjoying travelling as much – I didn’t have time. I was torn between wanting to go out and do and see things in all the fabulous places we were visiting, and doing what I ‘should’ be doing to stay up to date with the blog and all the networking. So much so that I got completely stressed out and developed a chronic pain in my right hip due to the inner conflict about moving forward into each day’s activities. And so much so that my reason for blogging about our travels in the first place, the pure joy and creativity of it, and the joy of sharing it, had become completely muddied.
When we were in Mexico earlier this year, I realized that I am still young, that I probably have a good twenty or thirty years ahead of me – plenty of time to have a whole new career as a nomad and writer. This fuelled the ‘project’. Then at some point I mentioned to someone that the blog had become a full-time job and his reaction was to laugh, but not in a good way. That prompted me to look at how seriously Don and I were taking this whole project, and that if I didn’t take it seriously, and hold it in the highest regard then why would anyone else? We decided to take it more seriously, to give full respect and recognition to my full-time job. This further fuelled the ‘project’. I have a history of starting big creative projects that were going to lead to fame and, more importantly, fortune, and then eventually giving up on every one of them, self-sabotaging in one way or another. This time I was determined not to do that. This time I was not giving up. No matter what. This recognition of my past behavior and my steely determination not to repeat it also further fuelled the ‘project’.
What I didn’t count on, because I didn’t know about it until I stepped into the blogging world, was how many fabulous blogs are out there, and how many wonderful people there are to meet, and friends to make, and things to be inspired by and learn and laugh and cry about. I wanted to spend time there. I didn’t even know the blogging world existed really until I was nominated for my first award. I was floored! And thrilled and excited of course. What was this? So I went searching for other blogs so I could respond to the award and suddenly, where once I had a tiny toe in the door, the door was now wide open. What a world I had discovered. And more importantly what wonderful people. So often I would be quickly reading through all the new posts on all the blogs I am following and I’d be completely stopped. I was lost to time. I had to read to the end, it was brilliant. You were brilliant. So much interesting insight, talent, and caring, and superb writing. At the same time reconnecting with long lost friends on Facebook was filling me with joy. They still like me!
And always in the background was this stress of time – I don’t have time to be doing this, I should be getting on with . . . . . . . photo editing, joining google+, updating FB, updating my Linkedin profile, searching out more blogs to read and comment on, writing – God it’s already nine days since my last post and we’re going out all day today, and all day tomorrow, and and and . . . . . Thoughts began to arise about not wanting to travel anymore: so I’d have all the time I needed to attend to the blog and all the networking! The mind continually amazes me with the stuff it makes up. Stop being nomadic to spend time developing and promoting a blog about being nomadic! How insane is that? Never mind that it would mean giving up this life I love to sit in front of a computer.
Then something changed. I think there was a moment, but I can’t remember it. In conversation with Don there has been a lot of exploring of what was going on for me. There has been a lot of feeling into the pain in my hip to find out what it was trying to say to me, and a lot of feeling the feelings. There has been a lot of dropping into presence, deeper and deeper, because that is the only way to avoid suffering and connect with the truth. There has been a lot of acceptance of what is, moment by moment, again because that is the only real way to avoid suffering. There has been a letting go more than a giving up. There has been the deep recognition that everything crumbles away. There is the ongoing realization that I will die one day. This will all end. All of it. There is the knowing that I don’t know what I want. In a good way. There is this quiet presence and peace that comes with acceptance that I don’t know what I want, and that I don’t need to know. Because I already have it. There is just being. A complete lack of ambition. A lack of striving – to achieve something, to be someone. A quiet peace. It’s not that I’ve given up. Or that I don’t care any more. It’s more like a quiet acceptance that things will unfold as they unfold, I’ll be inspired to do things moment by moment, or not, and that either way it doesn’t matter. Trust deepens the longer we are on this journey.
I know I’ve written in previous posts about being present, accepting what is, and letting go. This lifestyle demands it. There is no external stability so stability must come from the inside. In my striving to create a business out of the blog, in my stressing to expand my networking (in the blogging world, and all the endless social media outlets – it’s like learning a whole new language!) and in trying to make the blog perfect, to keep it current and interesting (what do I need to improve to be “Freshly Pressed” etc etc), I created suffering for myself and lost my internal stability. It had been replaced by trying, and striving, and craving. In presence and letting go I rediscovered my centre. I no longer have any attachment to outcome. Something popped the balloon. That big puffed up ego balloon that thought I could and/or should “be someone” has been completely deflated. There’s no air left in it any more. What a relief. What peace.
The blog will continue. My connection to other blogs and bloggers will continue. I get so much pleasure and inspiration from reading others’ blogs, and have made some wonderful friends. I continue to be grateful for and humbled by all who choose to follow along on our journey. Probably not much will change externally. What has changed is the energy with which I hold it all. The striving has gone. The need to get somewhere has gone. The ambition has gone. I no longer have any attachment to outcome – just like in the rest of my life. And I can finally fully enjoy myself again.
And to all of you who have chosen to follow our journey – thank you! I honestly wonder why, and it fills me with a kind of surprised delight. I love sharing our journey. I’m thrilled to have people to share it with.
Photo of the day: Argentina’s Mona Lisa. Near Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires.
All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.