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“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”
― Chuck Palahniuk,

When I was 25 I quit my job, I turned down a very competitive position in a post graduate animateuring program and I put what was left of my life into storage. A week before Christmas I got on a plane and I moved to a remote village on the south coast of East Java Indonesia. It was one of the biggest risks I had ever taken in my adult life. I opened myself up to the world and I learned more about myself in the three years I lived on the edge of the world than I had in my entire life up until that point.

Pushing myself that far out of my comfort zone taught me who I was as a person, it showed me my flaws, it forced me to see my life in a way that I never had before. For the first time in my life I actually started taking responsibility for the adult I was becoming and I started to make some really conscious choices about the person I wanted to be in the world. Up until that point I had been living in between a state of fear that I wasn’t doing enough (to be good enough, to be worthy of love, to be successful, to be happy) and a state of complete and utter self obliteration.

It wasn’t an easy thing to do. I made some pretty enormous mistakes. I put myself in some dangerous situations that I probably should have been smart enough to avoid and I got terribly hurt… but because I was so open to learning and growing and becoming more of myself, I discovered that I was actually a lot more capable of strength than I had ever believed I was before. They were equally the hardest and the most wonderful years of my life to date. I experienced incredible joy and incredible grief in equal measure and what it taught me about myself was transformative.

In those three years I became very resilient. I looked at myself in the face and I began to understand the person looking back at me. I forced myself to grow. I learned how to withstand and recover from life’s darkest hours, I learned how to find the light. I learned how to do more than just survive, I learned how to thrive.

We don’t want to just survive this spectacular life, we want to thrive in it. But to truly thrive in the big juicy adventure that is a whole life – which we all know is not perfect and shit things happen even though life is pretty fantastic – we must be able to grab hold of the shit things and let them do good things for us, let them change us in ways that help us to grow and be better and instead of breaking us, instead just allow them to crack us open and tear us apart and encourage us to stand as nothing but ourselves in front of the world.

We must accept risk of failure. We must accept the risk of having our heart broken. For every time there is risk of falling, there is also the opportunity to soar.

To truly sink our teeth into that fucking wonderful feeling that is loving ourselves and really loving another person, to truly be present in a moment, to truly experience anything is to be cracked wide open to the world in a way that lets it affect us and change us… we must first let things happen to us, the good and the bad. And sometimes it really fucking hurts, and sometimes it is the greatest thing in the world. The thing is, no moment lasts forever… things are always changing and to fight that would be to do a terrible injustice to yourself – sometimes change is the very best thing.

We must stand on the edge of the world with our arms open wide and understand that to fly, perhaps first we must fall… and when we fall, what comes after has the potential of being the most beautiful thing of all.

So I take risks. Sometimes they pay off. Sometimes they don’t. But they always teach me something about myself and about the world and the always, always, offer incredible opportunities and new friendships and amazing new experiences that I would never have had if I was too scared to fall.

What’s the worst thing that could happen anyway? Life, no matter what you believe happens after, is for living.

Are you afraid of failure or are you a risk taker?

  • April 23, 2016 - 4:01 am

    Tricia - What a beautiful piece of writing Sash. So much wisdom in there. I’m definitely a risk taker. Some of the most heartbreaking and scary moments of my life are the ones I’m most grateful for. Empathy and resilience are two character traits I treasure. And i don’t think they can truly be developed without pain. xxReplyCancel

  • April 27, 2016 - 9:26 am

    becky mcintosh - This has been sitting in my inbox for a few days and today I finally got the chance to read it and at precisely the right time. I’m not naturally a risk taker but I’m getting better at it. I just started to dip my feet into a new project and the past few days have been fighting my fear of failure and recognising a lot of fear of and dependence on others opinions which I know about myself but have trouble silencing.
    Thanks for the gentle nudge to keep inching towards the edge of that cliff and reminding me that even falling can be spectacular.ReplyCancel

DSC_0179PIN ITI was 18 when I found myself working as a PA in a very expensive law firm pushing paper around desks and  drinking my weight in fancy hot chocolate. I’ve always found it easy enough to get jobs even without the proper experience, I’m a fast learner and I’m genuinely interested in other people and I was inexperienced so I was a cheap hire. But this was my first serious full time job. I had deferred from a BA in Social Work to do it, because Uni didn’t feel right either. I was moonlighting pulling beers at a local tavern at night and was determined to save some cash so I could have some freedom to choose what next. I’d been working there from eight until five every single day for probably about six weeks when I found myself striding across a fancy foyer in a pencil skirt and heels and I stopped dead in my tracks. Not this. I said to myself. Anything but this.

About an hour later I quit my job and within an hour after that I was on a bus heading out of the city.

I remember the moment I found out for sure my husband had been having a rather elaborate affair. Part of me had probably known for a long time, but knowing and truly knowing are two different things, are they not? I remember exactly how the conversation went and the visceral heat that coursed through my body tearing shreds from my sense of self. I remember after days of begging to understand and asking for answers and so many tears and falling at his feet that there was a moment that was as clear as day as if all of a sudden the fear lifted and I could finally see myself for exactly who I was in that moment and in that moment I said… Not fucking this. Not anymore. No way. Not this.

I’ve done this several times in my life. I’ve done it in jobs. I’ve done it in relationships. I’ve done it quite simply at parties or events. Just stood up and said, nope, not this… and left. It sounds arbitrary perhaps to some of you. How fickle one can be with things that perhaps my parents had wished I’d just stuck with a little longer. How fickle perhaps I was at times with other peoples hearts. How young I was. I was always a ‘not this’ kind of person, clear about what felt good even when it didn’t really go down well at home, I was like that with girl guides as a five year old, I was the same with synchronised swimming and guitar lessons and netball and ballet… there came a moment when I suddenly realised… Not this. And once I came to that realisation, I’m done.

I’m still that kind of person today. Once my walls come up. Once my heart isn’t in it anymore. It’s over. There is almost never any coming back around. I’m better at mitigating the risk associated with this element of my personality these days. Even when I know, Not this, about a job… I can hang around and get the job done for a little longer until I find the right thing to move onto. I’m flawed, I’ve known not this, about my last two serious relationships from pretty early days but my own insecurities stopped me from leaving. I’m better at this now, so much better at this.

I was reading a Facebook post by the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert the other day where she was exceptionally eloquently exploring the concept of ‘not this’ and the power our own intuition has in our lives (the post has be subsequently removed for unknown reasons) and it reminded me exactly why that ‘not this’ moment has become such an incredibly powerful one in my own life.

Because knowing ‘not this’ – and I know each and everyone of you have had it. Opens the door to the most spectacular feeling in the world. The ‘this!’ feeling.

There is no better feeling in the world than having an incredible revelation, or standing with someone you love, or the breath of a sleeping child against your cheek, or the grasp of a tiny hand when you reach the street corner, or standing on the edge of a rocky beach feeling the sea air filling your lungs and for that moment, in that exact moment you feel it. You feel it. THIS. THIS. THIS, THIS A THOUSAND TIMES THIS.

That feeling. That ‘THIS’ feeling. That’s where joy lives. That’s where the edges of your life fold inwards and meet each other in moments that you understand are so incredibly, exactly and completely where you are supposed to be.

I’ve been having a lot of those feelings lately. In my work. Im my relationships. In my home.

And fuck, they are good.

Right?

I hope you have at least one ‘THIS!’ moment today (and every day). Because this moment, right now, it’s all we’ve got.

  • April 11, 2016 - 6:25 pm

    Elisa @ With Grace & Eve - Love your writing. I read Elizabeth’s post and thought about my “not this” moments; but forgot about the “this”. I’ll change my focus now, thanks to your words. It’s a much nicer outlook here! I’m so happy your days are happy XReplyCancel

    • April 11, 2016 - 6:28 pm

      Sash - it’s that beautiful thing about light and dark, you can’t have one without the other… where there is dark, there can be light… I prefer to focus on the THIS! The not this is very, very useful… but the THIS! Well, that’s joyful :)ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2016 - 6:54 pm

    Michelle Perkins - My ‘this’ right now is of course accommpanied by the ‘dark’ (missing my kiddies) but I’m so deep in a ‘this’ with work and with other decisions, the dark stuff is do-able.
    Love this post, Sash.ReplyCancel

  • April 11, 2016 - 7:29 pm

    bron - love. another one of your posts where I nod along to most every word. xReplyCancel

  • April 12, 2016 - 3:33 am

    Bebe - You do have a way with words; I thought your post was an exceptionally eloquent exploration of the here and now. A lovely way to start the day, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • April 12, 2016 - 11:26 am

    Annabelle - Awww, Sash, I love THIS!ReplyCancel

  • April 12, 2016 - 3:11 pm

    Libby Willis - You’ve just articulated something I’ve spent years trying to explain to people. Brilliant! Thankyou so much Sash 🌸🌸🌸ReplyCancel

DSC_3129PIN IT DSC_3140PIN IT DSC_3184PIN ITThe crash of the ocean, the call of the seabirds, the salt on my lips are all sensations that bring me back to earth when my head is in the clouds, instantly feeling connected once more to the land. I grew up on the coast line of Western Australia and being by the coast is where I feel most at home. I’m drawn to the ocean and particularly to the landscape of the south west, the white sand, the rocky shores, the dunes and the thick carpet of pig face under my feet.

It’s not often I find the urge to travel inland, there is days of driving between us and the next city and whilst it is beautiful it can also feel never ending… I once drove across the country on a journey to live in Melbourne and I was in awe of the red rock and the dusty plains, so far from the sandy shores that I had always known as my home.

A while ago Bo and I took a trip inland with some friends of ours, it was the kind of trip you take that quiets the mind and opens the spirit. The four of us drove late into the night, winding paths through tiny towns and drought stricken farms – we drove out to the property one of my friends was raised on where standing on the verandah of the house his parents had lived in as newlyweds everything the sun touched was theirs. Endless horizons of earth and scrub and the spectacular balance that comes from equal parts beauty and isolation.

I always feel incredibly blessed to be alive when I stand in nature. It’s as if something rises up in me, a force that I forget exists when I’m knee deep in the monotony of every day life. But it is so easily awakened again. Simply by turning off the phone. By leaving the house. By standing somewhere where you can truly hear the call of the world. By being with people you love and you trust and you can crack yourself wide open and just exist without needing protection of any kind at all. Thats what real friendship is. It’s simple. It’s raw. It’s real.

We spent those days climbing rocks and driving dirt roads and throwing nets into dams and discovering caves with handprints and paintings that showed signs of life here from well before any of our time. We watched lizards bask in the sunlight, and snakes lazily trail across our path and sat squat on red dirt tracing the lines of the ants as they ran to escape the rain.

There was nothing to do but talk or not talk, sleep or not sleep, walk or not walk, sit or not sit. And no matter what we chose, everything was well in our worlds.

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When I feel like I’m suffocating in the heaviness of the world, being squashed by the over-connection and the tragedy and the over stimulation that comes from work and life and everything we are entrenched in… I always find myself drawn to the land. When I’m disconnected from the world and standing in nature I am always struck by the incredible synchronicity that exists between us and the natural world. When you stand on earth that has been walked on for so many generations of both human and animal, i can’t help but feel that connection with all that has come before and all that will come after. The call of the bird that echoes the thought of the mind. The wind in the leaves that carries whispers of the land. The big red ant that carries its brother home, and in that moment, teaches us all we truly need to know about the world.

The natural world has an enormous amount to teach us when we quiet our lives enough to be able to truly listen.

I can’t help but be thankful for the freedom we have to find what we need. For good friends. For children. For nature and for the lessons that come when we least expect them.

Travel inland. Travel to the ocean. Travel to the forest and get amongst the stuff that matters most with the people you love and live the shit out of the spectacular life you have.

It’s a beautiful thing, this living business. x

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  • April 4, 2016 - 6:02 pm

    Tamara - These photos are just stunning and would convince anyone to head inland. Theres so much Australia in these images and post.. beaut writing… thanks.ReplyCancel