On a jetplane and back again

We ushered in the new year in a Qantas plane somewhere above the Pacific. A day was lost as we crossed over the International Date Line, and the official start of 1 January 2013 was almost a non-event, marked only by a cabin announcement and a round of clapping from all the passengers. I guess you could say the new year got off to a flying start (ha ha).

On the long plane journey it was easy to while away the hours resting, listening to new music and watching a documentary (Searching for Sugarman). Which, if you think about it, is a pretty great way to spend the first day of 2013 – travelling, chilling out and finding inspiration. I made a tentative resolution that all of these things are what I would like more of in 2013 – after June, that is. For the next six months I’m booked pretty solid with big projects at work, another trip to California at the end of February to attend TEDActive, my wedding, preparing for TEDxSydney and performing at the end of May at Carriageworks for Stories Now and Then. The latter has been officially announced and you can already book tickets (gulp!). I also have a whole series of writing deadlines to meet over coming months so I’ll need to put in a superhuman effort to stay on top of it all until we jet off for a brief honeymoon in early July.

While I sort of feel like I skipped the usual start of 2013, I definitely feel like I skipped the whole month of December. It’s usually a busy and festive month with lots going on, and I basically cheated by leaving Australia altogether and spending more than four weeks in the United States, Guatemala and Mexico. It was the first time I’ve ever gone on such a big trip at this time of year…and given how well it all went, I’d leave home every December if I could.

I started the trip with a lot of residual stress, but I was eventually able to slip into a space where I was feeling pretty relaxed and living an alternative version of my life. I kept getting tantalising doses of what my life would be like if I moved to North America. That feeling of unreality that comes with constant travel is really addictive (and not necessarily healthy for me) so to counter that effect a little, I allowed myself plenty of time to get ‘bored’. Waiting around at terminals and being on buses and planes without reading, listening or talking – and that gave me the space to think about the kitchen-sink reality of my life. It’s quite confronting being with my own thoughts like that, but it’s completely necessary too.

All in all, it was a transformative trip. I’m not quite the same person I was when I left. I travelled because I wanted to shake things up a little and that’s exactly what happened. What more could I possibly ask of travel? There were a lot of highs but beyond that there was also something very different about this time which has provided me with new inspiration and energy.

It’s hard to believe that I’m back home again in front of my laptop and off to work this morning, but I’m actually looking forward to having a normal routine again. I often say that the best part of travel for me is coming home.

It doesn’t take long to unpack my bags and I’m almost done, but it’ll take me a few weeks to unpack everything else that’s currently in my mind. Especially because I’m bursting with stories.

Feliz año nuevo! Happy new year! Hope you were all off to a fine start.

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