My Journey

New Year, New Me?


I try this ‘new year, new me’ bullshit annually…it never works. Already just a few weeks in and all my vows and promises have spiralled out of control once more. Life got in the way.

When you watch from your window as billowing smoke comes barreling your way from a bushfire started by fork lighting. Hear the drones of the voice from the television tell of the devastation of the town next door, completely flattened by the wicked orange embers. While you wait your turn, waiting for the call to evacuate, to flee… but the call never comes. You are safe. But you never go next door to help them pick up the pieces.

When you read a post on Facebook about a city in Syria that is under siege by its own countrymen, seeing photos of sallow skinned children starving to death before your very eyes and you blink and scroll on by to giggle at the next dumb viral video…

When you laugh nervously at the alarming thought that Donald Trump could become the next President of the US but then you are hungry so your thoughts turn to what to have for lunch instead…

Forever desensitized to the horror unfolding on the news, when finally something seeps in, something clicks. Your eyes absorb what you have always glanced over and for once you really see the horror in all its gritty glory.

Here I sit, albeit a bit dirty and worn having been bitten and head butted by horses, living amongst frogs, cockroaches and ants as I grind my way through my regional work. A little tougher and bedraggled then when I first landed but safe and fortunate all the same.

I ‘like’ these Facebook posts and share them, I frown and shake my fist at the TV and groan about what a horrible world it is, and “I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that… then I realized I am somebody.” A quote I read by Lily Tomlin. This realization is so stupidly simple; I cannot fathom how it never occurred to me before. Finally though, it has struck a chord, and it is resonating through me.

New Year, new me… by the end of week one I’d already managed to lock myself out of the apartment and had to walk barefoot to my cousin’s house at 5am, wake him and his pregnant girlfriend up and plea for refuge.

I get so impatient with myself, and my many faults… I am too weak, watch too much television, waste too much time, spend too much money, care too much what others think of me, think myself too fat, too ugly. I always blamed society for putting this pressure on me but I have realized it is me, I am my own worst enemy.

I must stop beating myself up, berating myself for all my flaws. I am only human; I will never be perfect and this year I really hope to stop trying. For too long, I’ve ignored the problems of the world, fretted about my failings instead, about all I don’t have when I have plenty. It is time for me to turn the spotlight off myself and shine it outwards, onto others. Why do I spend my days writing and documenting my own life when others have more important things to say, stories to tell, and issues to be brought to light. It is my turn to give back, to put my hands up, step up and to help. I will turn the lens on the people of the world, learn about their lives, let them tell their stories, help people that really need it and perhaps in doing so I will finally be convinced of my worth.

What do I really want to spend my life doing… not just travelling or doing extreme sports and having a good time but rather in conservation and activism, assisting real change in the world. Therefore anything I do from here on in will have more of a reason behind it then my own selfish delight.

My guilt is foreboding and at times overwhelming. I volunteered for one day this year to help collect clothes for the refugees in Calais, one fucking day out of 365 days this year. Is that really all I could spare? What bullshit have I fed myself? I didn’t donate one drop of blood this year… I was in Vietnam I tell myself, that gets me off the hook. I got a tattoo the year before, so I couldn’t? I spent hundreds of euros and dollars and Vietnamese dong on sculling beers and spirits on the weekends and then told myself I’m too broke to drop a coin in a homeless mans cup or to spare a fiver for that charity. The guilt literally riddles inside me.

This year, things need to change… I need to change. We’re off to a rocky start, but lets face it amn’t I always? Such is life. All the things in this world I don’t agree with, I have not earned the right to complain about unless I try and do something about it. There are so many undocumented tales out there about great cruelty and injustice, of weeping deforestation, of starving children, of slain animals, of racism, of homophobia, of corrupt politics, of bribes and favours, of debt and death, of a crumbling world… but also of magic, of passion, of freedom, of human beings rising up in the face of adversity. This year, I vow to give back. I have had my moment, now its time for others to have theirs…

Happy Belated New Year to you all.