In Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert notes that ‘Traveling-to-a-place energy and living-in-a-place energy are two fundamentally different energies’.
On my monthly trips to Canberra (Australia’s capital city) , on the Greyhound bus or Murrays coach, I have noticed the ebbs in energy. The day starts with promise. On the bus at 8 or 9, depending on which coach service I use. Books, snacks, a drink, laptop, phone, bullet journal, all accompany me. I am set for the day. The energy level is high, full of portent, for who knows what the day will bring?
My lunch time forage in Canberra is always at the National Gallery. Sometimes I find thirty minutes for art. Sometimes I spend twenty minutes in the gallery bookshop, amid books and journals and awe-inspiring merchandise. Always, I retreat to the coffee shop, with the view of trees and water and the intriguing, tasty menu. I eat. I think. I look. I rest. Before work and seminars.
I imagine that this feeling of thoughtful rest is what it would be like to live here, in Canberra. I imagine that I would visit the gallery regularly. I imagine a life of creativity.
I think imagine is the clear, cinnamon word here. For then I rush. To work. And to grab an uber back to the bus station that evening (It has been said that you know a city by its public transport. Or lack thereof. The paucity says something of Canberra, I think). With dwindling energy for the three and a half hour bus trip home.
Canberra has become a monthly interlude of solitary reading and reflection. A joy.
Canberra has become a monthly sapper of energy, on the long bus trip home, often sitting in the dark.
In this way, Canberra for me exemplifies the two energies of which Gilbert wrote. The energy of visiting and the energy of living. That contradiction we often feel in our lives, between doing and being, working and living.
Do we live our life in interludes or is there a seamlessness about our life and work and play and love? Can we grab life by its shirt collar, pull it towards us and enjoy, before it passes in energy drained?
Monthly trips to Canberra remind me that life should be grabbed at, lived in, loved in, experienced. It should reflect the creativity and reflection of both our interior and exterior selves.
We should reach out to life..before things snap us up, and tie us down. Before life decides for us how we should live.
We should decide for ourselves. With reflection and energy and others.
Our life then is never cut and dried. We reflect and make change. We enjoy the status quo but know that there is always another road. Another journey. Another adventure to explore.
And getting there, wherever there is, whatever our goals and duties are in life, is half the fun.