My workspace today was a café carved out of a rocky hill overlooking the crystal clear ocean, which was lined with longboats and palms trees. The café was warm, but between my coffee frappe and the sea breeze I was comfortable. My stomach was full of smoothies, French fries, club sandwiches, and contentment. About two weeks ago I ran off to a remote island off the coast of Thailand called Koh Phangan. I spent a large portion of last summer on this same island and ever since its energy has not let me go. The crystal ocean waves wake me up in the morning and the sounds of birds sing me to sleep in the evening. My days are filled with yoga, waterfall hiking, monkey trekking, scuba diving, and an endless amount Thai food. I look out from this café, pausing my work for a moment, to reflect on how blessed I am.
2018 I named my year. It was the year of recovery, the year of pulling myself out of darkness, and walking into the light. It was the year of new beginnings, new mindsets, and a new way of experiencing the world. 2018, by all means, ended up being my year. I spent it healthy, joyful, and open to new opportunities. When 2019 rolled around, I reflected on what intention I wanted to set for the upcoming months. I thought about my life and felt as peace. I had no idea where the future was going to take me, I had no direct career path, little money, and only a year of recovery under my belt, yet there wasn’t any anxiety. So, I chose to name 2019 the year of joy. This year I intend to truly slow down and experience life in all its glory.
The first month of the year has passed. February has begun and with it I feel a rush of accomplishment. I’m at a café on my favorite island, editing underwater pictures for a dive shop. The jobs I hold let me do what I love – diving and yoga – while living in a place that awakens every spark of joy within me.
It is never easy to get on a plane and jet off halfway across the world. I’ve done it several times now, but never like this. I never left without knowing where I was going next. I never left with a future that was so uncertain or a career that wasn’t set in stone. People consider me a free spirit, but my freedom usually comes with conditions. I wanted a return date on my plane ticket and a five year plan for success in my back pocket. I am teaching at the same 200hr TTC that I trained with last year. This week we talked about the Yama’s of yogic philosophy. I felt struck by the Yama of non-attachment. Why is it that I feel so attached to a plan? Why is it that in order to feel successful I need to have a steady income, hold a 5-10 year plan, and currently be in grad school or better yet working on my doctorate?
Growing up in the US, I was blessed with an enormous amount of privilege. I think about this each time I wash my dishes outside, fill up my motorbike with gas out of a glass bottle, or lug huge water bottles back to my bungalow because the faucet water isn’t safe. But, what some fail to notice is that with privilege comes expectations. Somewhere over the last century, the American Dream has morphed from chasing possibilities to holding societal expectations. The American Dream has turned into graduating high school with a 4.0, going to a four year college, going to graduate school, possibly going on to get a doctorate, getting married, have a full-time job, having kids, buying a house, shopping at Whole Foods, going to Core Power, and eating acai bowls.
I by no means have led a traditional path and I have no intentions to. I find a future that is predictable and etched through society’s ideals depressing and dull. Editing photos while sipping on coffee, listening to the waves, and soaking up all the sun’s vitamins, sound much more alluring.
Therefore, whenever I question the future, whenever the anxieties of the unknowns come into play, or the worries about money, success, and image plague my thoughts, all I have to do is look out my window. I look out and see courage. I feel sand, palms trees, jungle, and ocean. I see an island that is thousands of miles from my comfort zone, but makes me feel right at home. I see the leap of faith I took into 2019, into completely unknown territory. I see all this and I feel joy. I feel the exact emotion I intended to fill this year with. Now, it’s only been a month, but I’d say that we are well on our way to a joy filled year.