I’m on Day Two of a five-day sojourn in Sydney. I hadn’t visited this fair city in almost five years and I thought it was overtime to visit – plus there were exhibitions to see, conferences to volunteer at, and friends to catch up with.
This is my first time travelling by myself in 20 years. I was a bit apprehensive but also recalled that I really used to enjoy it. 24-hours in, I can confirm that it’s not that same as travelling with another person but it is indeed enjoyable. Or, perhaps that’s the food …
The hotel I’m staying at is so bizarre. It’s like retro-refurb-gone-bad – all chocolate browns, walnut veneer, shag-pile rug, marble bathroom and … a perspex feature-chandelier. It’s either been a while since the refurb or not been well maintained so it’s all a bit shabby – but not in a chic way. I quite like it. It’s definitely one of the things I wish I had a travel-companion for. I’ve had to squeal at the awfulness of it all by myself. I will, however, share a few photos with you.
Today I spent 12 hours volunteering at the Happiness and its Causes conference. It did involve much happiness. And wondering at the workings of human beings. And standing in the rain.
The conference opened with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation (and on a panel with other presenters). I didn’t get to see much of that but HH did pass close by as he was entering the building. He was high-tailing it toward where I was standing with a couple of other volunteers and all I could think was “Please don’t come and say hello. My hands are freezing cold and I would be so embarrassed if I shook your hand.” Fortunately, one of his minders directed him away from us and toward his destination. My cold hands were given a reprieve.
I did, unexpectedly, get to see Ruby Wax’s presentation (or was it a performance?). I’m not really a fan and had no desire to see her speak but ended up ushering in the auditorium while she was onstage. She was excellent. Funny, engaging, articulate, thought-provoking. She finished with one of the most effective mindfulness exercises I’ve ever experienced. Tres impressed.
The conference is being held at Luna Park and after the proceedings wrapped today, the delegates were treated to a 10th Birthday Cocktail Party. The park also opened a few of the Luna Park rides and so, I finished the day laughing with other volunteers and taking in the wonder of Sydney at night on the ferris wheel. It was a pretty cool day. I look forward to returning tomorrow – possibly for another 12 hours on my feet and in the rain.
This trip has been a continuation of what life is for me a the moment; it’s about taking myself out of my comfort zone, out of my routine, out of my support network and asking, “So, without all this other stuff, who am I? What’s important?” It’s about locating myself – seeing where I fit. It’s also about grounding myself – working out what matters most.
So far, I’ve worked out laughter is important. As is meditation. And meaning. And simplicity. And good design. And good food. And connecting with others.
I’m exhausted, my feet have been wet all day, and my legs and back ache.
I have finished the day in a state of extreme gratitude for every aspect – and especially every person – in my life at the moment.
These are indeed happy travels.