Every year that I spend significant chunks of time of the road, one or two lessons seem to repeat themselves over and over. As 2018 prepares to collide with its successor, the moment seems fitting to peer deep inside at what it is I have learnt most clearly. This year, it has definitely been about speaking my truth.
Be all that you are and this will act as a natural sieve, keeping the right people close and the wrong people far away.
This has been a remarkable lesson to learn. It took waking my friend in the middle of the night because I was crying from the pain of an ear infection in a village in the South Pacific. It took road tripping to find hot springs in the snowy back country of the South Island of New Zealand with two girls I had never met before and missing a flight to Tasmania on my birthday. It took driving into the wilderness with my best friend when I eventually made it and finally admitting that there was something going on in my brain that was very difficult for me to handle. It took a family holiday to Bali with my slightly racist Grandma, being alone on an Indonesian island unable to talk to anyone because my social nerves got the better of me. It took pumping waves in Indonesia’s swell of the century and a venture into the sweaty armpit of Asia – Bangladesh. It took cheap dahl on the streets, the brutal reality of extreme gender inequality and a long transit back to Africa. It took grinding out a dissertation all the while treading on the shifting sands that have become my normality.
Mozambique often poses the biggest challenge to my character that I am ever made to face. It’s testing. Hot, cramped and fuelled by alcohol. On one hand it is paradise, on the other it offers a long hard look into the deep crevasse that is my soul, and that is not always comforting. But as time ticks over and each person I collide with, each moment I am handed, whether testing or encouraging, it remains a beautiful cosmos of energy that I am well and truly addicted to.
Through all of these moments people pass in and out of my consciousness. Some are regular returners and others fresh faces and while the temptation remains strong to chameleon into my surroundings, the only way to really know if someone should be privileged to your thoughts is to speak your truth and find out. If your humour scares someone away then they don’t deserve your jokes. Don’t stifle your comedy because someone is unable to look at life through the lens of hilarity. If you’re crude and someone can’t handle it, don’t bow your head to their social expectations. Instead spit your crude comments and the people who get it will stay and the people who don’t will leave and you will be much better off.
Look harshly at the truth you are speaking and see from which well it is sourced. Being true to yourself doesn’t mean your truth is absolute or there is no room for improvement. It means that if you feel the need to bare your soul then by all means do it. And if you happen to fly off the handle at two o’clock in the morning because you couldn’t take someone’s shit anymore, the people who love you for your true character will laugh and suggest how you can fix it, not love you less. There is always a moment to be gentle and a moment to be harsh, choose wisely.
So, throw off the shackles and step into the great unknown oblivion of your spirit, you never know what you might find.