‘The Trip of a Lifetime’ – An Introduction

There are books written about it, fantasies dreamt about it and savings accounts struggling to purchase it:

The Trip of a Lifetime.

I spent a few moments before writing this blog trying to discern what people mean when they talk about this ‘once in a lifetime’ experience and what struck me is that a lot of suggestions are labelled as being nearly impossible to achieve – whether that be through expense, accessibility, or impracticality. In fact, there are ENTIRE BLOGS dedicated to the impossibility of fantastical trips.

…Now I don’t know if I’m being naively optimistic, but this feels a bit too bleak for my liking.

Your Trip of a Lifetime may very well be skiing on every available resort on the planet or getting a private helicopter to fly you out to the most remote island on Earth…but, let’s face it, unless you’re a billionaire, you’ll be waiting a VERY long time to save up for something that extravagant.

Personally, I don’t believe in The Trip of a Lifetime. I believe there are trips we go on that become a highlight to life; trips that stay with us, mould our opinions and teach us that little bit more about the people of another culture. You don’t have to spend extortionate amounts of money or aim for a location that’s entirely out of reach. All you need is an escape, with a bit of fun thrown in.

I’m saying this because I recently returned from a holiday that quickly became one of the best of my life – I guess you could call it my Trip of a Lifetime to date – and I want to share it. The following blogs will recount my experiences and tell the stories that I know will stay with me. It may not be much to those of you who still yearn to trek through the mountains of Asia on the back of a Yak, but to me, it was beautiful.

So, in my next blog ‘BECAUSE…PEFKOS’ travel with me to the island of Rhodes and see things through my eyes. Just for a minute.

Then you can go on saving for Asia.

The World Smiles With You

Today is the first blog I have written in some time, which has been largely down to some personal matter but also due to the fact that I have been abroad, exploring the beautiful island of Rhodes (but more about that later).

The main reason I have taken up the laptop and loaded this site again so soon upon return is for someone incredibly special to me.

I would like to say a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful baby sister.

There are relationships we all experience throughout life – whether they be that of family, friendship, or love – that we know deep down mean a whole lot more to us than others. Some sisters spend their lives bickering and fighting, competing for attention until they eventually move out of their parents’ house and proceed to ignore each other. Me and my sister have had our fair share of bickering, and have had a fierce competition of who could achieve higher with various instruments (I still think I won that one), but when all is said and done, we trundle along quite happily as best friends.

From pantomimes we performed as young girls for our placating family to boyfriend gossip as teens and now to career advice as young women, there hasn’t been a moment when we’ve been apart. At least not spiritually.

I would like to thank her publically for all she has put up with from me (she’s put up with a lot). I would like to tell her how much I love her (I love her a lot). And I would like to tell her that she deserves nothing but happiness and laughter for the rest of her life (she ignores me when I tell her these things. She ignores me a lot).

We’ve had a pretty rough year so far baby sis and I wouldn’t have got through it without you holding my hand. Don’t let it taint this fantastic day and look to the future now: 17 is an incredible age. Enjoy the feeling of teetering on the edge of becoming an adult (it gets scarier from here on).

Above all though, SMILE.

Because today, the world smiles with you.

Where is your God?

In modern society, faith is questioned by everyone, be they scientists, priests, businessmen, adventurers or even young children. It is no longer accepted that there is a God watching over us, protecting and guiding us through everyday life. There are no longer intricate depictions of Satan smiting us for our sins or of Angel Gabriel singing ‘Hallelujah!’ on the walls of our schools. Instead we are turning to experiments, DNA, evolution, rockets sent out into space and the Big Bang for our answers.

Fact is becoming the new God.

I have been raised by parents who follow a religion and who made it a part of who I am today. I am proud of my faith. As I have grown I have strayed from the path of absolute doctrine and find my own answers to spiritual questions. If challenged, I will defend what I believe in-in spite of the ridicule or surprise I’m faced with.

But, as with anything in this life, there are times when even I wobble in my determined belief.

So what do we do when something happens to us that makes us question the very fundamentals of what we believe in?

With all the beauty that life presents to us, we are shocked when ugliness invades. It filters through our routines, worms into our thoughts and takes hold, spreading like black ink in a glass of water. We are left with something impure, polluted and shocking. And how can we be expected to stand steadfast in the face of evil and thank a God for our suffering?

Today is a day I can’t stand firm. Today is a day I can’t take comfort in a belief. Today is a day I will not be thankful.

Today is one of those days when it feels as though we are just tiny inconsequential beings with no real influence on the universe; we have no control over love, life or death. It seems impossible to believe in something with so much power and so much love having so little regard for existence here on Earth.

It’s hard to find the part of myself that looks within for answers and finds comfort from something bigger than myself. I know deep down that Fact could never be my God; I know that there are questions that could never be answered by science; I know that I have a purpose and that I occasionally lose sight of it.

Although I know all of this…

Today is a day I can’t stand firm.

But tomorrow is a day I could try.

The Uncomfortable Truths

As friends, as family members, as lovers, we all desire one simple thing from those whom we care about:

TRUTH

This is a concept that, although alien to some, is to others a firm ethic by which to live their life.

Truth is the golden rule.

But because we have been told from a young age that to be truthful is the best and the right thing to be, we are not prepared when we are suddenly faced with the dilemma of whether or not it will hurt the one we tell it to.

What do we do if the truth will only cause unnecessary pain? Do we speak it and seek to help those it wounds in the aftermath? Or do we hold our tongue and hope it’s never found out?

I suppose the real question I’m trying to ask here is: Is it ever ok to lie?

There are times when you find yourself the victim of what I call an uncomfortable truth. Facts come to light that until that moment you were unaware of and you find it difficult to know how to react. It can be upsetting; it can be unnerving; it can leave you questioning the reliability of whatever came before the revelation.

On one level you are glad you know. When all is said and done, the more honesty there is between people the closer they can become. You can either cut yourself off from the person, choosing to recreate yourself as an independent individual rooted in solid facts, OR you can choose to move on, forgive if possible and build on what you have. Whichever path you pick, you can progress to better things. You have been hurt, but you have learnt. You can become stronger by yourself or as a team and there is no denying that that is a beautiful achievement.

But on another level you wish you had never found out. There would be no change to what you may have initially considered perfection, no turbulent emotions or questions of trust. It has taken years of self discovery and challenge to reach the point you are already at and you are proud of who you are. Surrounded by people you love and can lean on, you are living in ignorant bliss. Who would choose pain and uprooting over happiness?

I don’t believe that there is a clear cut answer to any of these questions. Every person is different because every person loves differently. I cannot lay down a blanket rule on who can or should tell the truth. I cannot dictate how to react to a truth if it is presented to you.

All I can tell you is what I believe: TRUTH IS AN EXTENSION OF LOVE. Presenting even the ugliest parts of yourself to the ones you love is the strongest demonstration of trust. And without trust, how can you truly love?

This is only my opinion however. You can’t base the way you live on some other persons’ internet ramblings- that would be dishonest to yourself. But you can expand on the ramblings; you can probe your own feelings…

…and you can ask yourself:

What you would do?

Let me down gently

Everyone has been let down at some point. Whether it was by your new pet dog who suddenly forgot his litter training after months of cleanliness or whether it was a slip of the tongue on the part of a loved one, leaving you awkward and exposed in a lie…we’ve all been there.

But in some ways, it is much easier to cope with being let down by someone/thing else. We have someone to blame that way when things go wrong or when we get upset. It is far nicer to think that if it had been up to you, this horrible thing would never have happened – YOU would have been much more considerate, YOU would have moved mountains to get things right, because YOU are pretty damn fabulous, unlike those other losers out on this planet.

(No offense of course.)

But when we find ourselves with that twisting knot in our stomachs that tells us we only have our reflection to blame…that’s when things get tough.

Now, instead of pointing the finger of blame elsewhere, you start to run through every failure, every mistake you made on the journey that carried you here. You scrutinise injuries that scupper you, probe at the fringes of your emotions, filter through the limits of your knowledge. And after all that, despite already knowing that you were at fault to begin with, you now feel even worse because you’ve analysed every bad point of your body and convinced yourself that you are a failure of a human being.

My point to all of this is that today I am feeling EXACTLY that way. I made a promise, a plan that I woke up facing this morning and simply couldn’t fulfil. I let myself and the one I love down and I am ridiculously miserable about it.

Which, when you stop to really think about it, is an utter waste of time.

No one can control the challenges thrown their way on a daily basis. No one can hold a hand up to the face of Life and say ‘Please go away, I’m not in the mood today.’

We all know that we feel at our worst when the person we’ve let down is a person we love. Chances are though that our loved one is not nearly as upset as we are-in fact, they may not even consider it an issue, too worried themselves about the state you’re in, and yet we continue to tear our hair out about it.

It’s taken me a long time to realise that ultimately, there is no point wallowing in self pity or despair. If life gets in the way and you have no other choice than to let someone down, then do it. It’s not going to stop or change their love for you. You just have to accept that there are times when you simply can’t do everything.

But you sure as hell can try.