Posted by: seehowfarwevecome | July 5, 2017

Sitting idle in wonderment of today

It’s Summer today, allegedly, though the grey skies to date have been hiding that fact. I am idly sat by a fresh log fire in a lake house about an hour south of Gdansk in Poland, watching for the first time this week blue skies and sunshine shining through the window but there’s a cold wind so I am finding respite and warmth here indoors to the smell of burning wood and the crackle of acorns.

It’s been some time since I blogged, but the peace and tranquillity of this lake house commands me to write. I don’t often make space to think and idly wonder these days, so I find myself sat mindfully enjoying the flames. There’s something uncomfortable yet comfortable about this place. As a city girl, the wilderness always pushes me to a place that is unnatural to me, yet I like to push myself into zones of discomfort from time to time.

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The slow pace of being sat here is somewhat enforced. I’ve managed to pull a muscle in my calf for the second time in three weeks, or rather, I’ve managed to set back the recovery I was making from the first injury when I pushed my calf a step or two too far yesterday by walking up a steep incline to get to this lake house. I felt my calf ping in a twist of irony that was not unlike the final snap I had felt arriving here in Poland a few short nights ago. That final snap, when after a long and tiring journey and one of the more stressful weeks I’ve had at work in a long time, was the mere fact that I couldn’t find towels in our hotel room when all I had wanted was a hot shower to wash off a stressful day and week.

It got me thinking, this week, how I used to suffer too many of those stressful weeks and how fortunate I’ve been of late for those days to have subsided. It’s been a painful reminder of the days when weekends and evenings were swallowed by work, and the ill timing of the demands upon my time this week at work with my ‘holiday’ have taken me back some years. Thankfully, it’s a rare moment these days – working on weekends I mean.

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Yet before I left for Poland on Thursday night, I literally had one of the worst days at work that I’ve had in a long time. A thumping headache and a rush to the airport to barely make my plane after getting stuck longer than planned in the office, I couldn’t wait to touchdown in Poland to chill. Two bits of dreadful news for friends had also permeated my week and when I met up with Cha, finally at Luton airport, she’d had an equally difficult few days.

Thankfully, Cha was my travel buddy once again. Cha, whom I’ve travelled all over the world with, literally, who knows me well and who I know well too, was the perfect buddy to offload upon and she assumed that role of offloading to me also, in equal measure. So when we sat there in our hotel room at 1.30am in the morning, and I discovered that there were no towels in the bathroom, she could laugh with me through my tears at the irony of that very straw breaking the back of that damn camel.

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“We will laugh about this one day” we mused, and with that I gave way to a burst of energy that I usually don’t have. “Let’s go out, now, and see the Sopot nightlife”. So we did, until 5am, and we watched the sun come up through gin and tonics and cocktails and we lazed with this laid back Polish vibe, chatting idly through the early hours. Maybe it was adrenaline, or the euphoria of finally escaping the office and the chance to forget some daily stresses for a few hours, but we giggled and chilled through a Polish scene that could have been any normal Saturday afternoon in any normal city.

Sopot by night, what a wonderful place. Despite the rain, the early morning rise of the sun kept the night from ever truly getting dark. There was a buzz to this place, and a slower pace of drinking amidst the different taverns, some still offering food at 4am. Cha and I sipped drinks somewhat slowly, taking in the décor and the European feel. Quiet music played through the background, interspersed with heavy, crazy Polish songs that broke up the stillness and stood juxtaposed to the ambience.

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Perhaps we were letting off steam, but it was what we needed. It was what I needed, with a good friend who knows every part of me and my history. We reminisced on travel stories and we talked about other trips. There are so many places that I still want to go. I often grapple with the temptation to leave it all behind, again, and take off on another trip around the world, but there’s a peace to my London life now and a balance I don’t want to tip, but that feeling, that urge to venture off is always there.

Come Friday, we stopped for food and had our share of Polish offerings, from beetroot soup to cabbage and mushroom pierogi, accompanied by local beers and warm welcomes. We sampled the cuisine with all the might we could muster, determined to have an authentic, local experience when it came to satisfying our appetites.

Whilst I have my SLR with me this weekend, unusually, I have not ventured out with it. I’m taking a new approach to seeing the world and its ways through my own eyes, unobstructed from my camera lens. Memories etched in my mind rather than captured on film. It’s a different way of being for these few short days.

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The door to the lake house has swung open and there’s a cold, sharp air flowing in. It awakens my thoughts, and my feet are a contradiction of warm and cold, with the flames of the log fire battling with the wind. The contradiction is metaphorical; the swings of warmth and the moments of cold. I want the warmth to envelope me, but the cold is a harsh reality and reminder to stay awake to the world and its ways.

There’s a hustle of noise around me, as people come and go through the lake house, playing games and heading out for walks amidst the woodlands. My enforced solace to recover my calf is somewhat welcome, as it gives me a stillness to stop and think and be mindful to the moments around me. It provides a place for restorative reflection. I am able to sit idle in wonderment.

There is talk around me of finding things to be grateful for and mindfulness; others talk of their five year goals. I realise how easy it is to not always stop to be thankful, so I spend some moments here, listening to the click and crack of the flames burning, being thankful for things around me. I also stop and realise that I have, to some extent, stopped planning of late, that the idea of a five year plan has become absent in my mid-thirties world.

I am thankful therefore that I have stopped planning, that I’ve started letting things evolve, but I do wonder sometimes if a bit of focus, like my twenty-something self, might render more reward. Life is easier to plan in few months to year-long bursts of late. It is rare that I find moments, like these, to sit idle with my thoughts and map out my path. Perhaps I plan less of late, so as to avoid the disappointment of plans not coming to fruition. Perhaps it is easier to sit idle in wonderment of today. Perhaps even more so, it’s easier to sit idle in the wonderment of yesterday.

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Yet as I do indeed sit idle, by the fire that still crackles on, I try to envisage tomorrow. I think that perhaps I stopped envisaging tomorrow for a good while, too cautious to hope that tomorrow might turn out the way I planned. A caution that I never had in my younger years, but which life slowly teaches you to hold. It’s that fine balance of hoping for the best but protecting ourselves in case of the worse, so the wonderment of tomorrow is a mix of excitement and caution, joy and trepidation, possibility and impossibilities. Yet tomorrow is something wonderful still, as I’ve the fortune to have a tomorrow.

The power of positive thinking, of seeing and believing, of hoping and knowing is a wonderful thing. I remember, so vividly, in my early twenties, being told by a senior HR leader that I’d make it to HR Director by the time I was thirty, if I held that belief and focused that thought. It didn’t happen when I hit thirty though, but as I hit my thirty-first birthday I secured my current global role. I guess that didn’t really happen by chance. I guess those moments I used to take, sitting idle in wonderment at my five year plan, had some degree of influence. Yet I didn’t plan for the things outside of my career so much, I didn’t plan for the travels or the relationships or the ups or the downs. I didn’t plan for the art, the photography, the blogs and the friendships along the way, they just came swinging by.

Perhaps I should have had more purposeful thought about some of those things a little earlier.  Perhaps I should have listened to inner thoughts a bit sooner, yet I am today here in wonderment at how yesterday has brought me to my today. Today, sat here, log fire burning, classical music playing on the stereo in the most mindful of ways, it’s the perfect back drop to sit idle and wonder once again, about tomorrow. Perhaps the wonderment and fortune of my world was always meant to be reflected upon this very day, sat idly by the fire.

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