So Stilettos in the Solomons has turned one year old, without me actually noticing (I'll buy you a fur coat, blog! I promise!). So to mark the blog's birthday, I've come up with twelve lessons I've learned since I started this blog. Enjoy!
- Jump! Even if its scares the crap out of you. After reading some of my earlier entries, its pretty clear I was totally unprepared for the experiences that lay ahead. I'd never really traveled alone for an extended period of time and I had never lived in a developed country for a year. I think if someone had told me about some of the experiences I would have, I might not have left my little apartment in Christchurch. Which would have been stupid because its getting demolished due to the earthquakes. I guess what I am trying to say is I learned to take risks, to jump into the void with nothing below me, to enjoy that moment of pure freedom before the THUMP of hitting the ground. Sometimes the landings were smooth, sometimes...eh...not so much. But at least I could say I did it. I failed, I got hurt, things ended badly but at least I survived. And went on to new adventures.
- Communicate, even if what you are saying is stupid or hurts someone. Look, I want people to like me just like everyone else. So I've glossed over uncomfortable facts and feelings to make peace. I've discovered that this does not work, you just have to have it out sometimes. Conflict can be good. And its better to make peace with someone than to hold grudges or stay angry. Its better for my health to just say it and be done with it.
- Love your boat driver. In the Solomon Islands, the seas can be deadly. People get lost every year here. The boat drivers here are, as far as I am concerned, the best boat drivers in the world. They take amazing risks every day. So I love my boat driver. I plan to get a shirt made that says that.
- Chilli tuna (taiyo) from Solomon Islands is the best stuff ever. I take it anytime I go out of Honiara and its a regular staple in my diet. Its a thing of beauty, I'm going to take a box of it when I leave.
- Know who is in your corner and value the crap out of them. Look, not everybody likes me. I'm a strong personality, I have a big old mouth and I say and do stupid things all the time. But for some reason, people still love me. And I value them. So thanks guys for putting up with me.
- Look around you. When I was going through some pretty rough stuff when I came back from Christchurch, I didn't want to see what was going on around me. But everywhere here, there is an opportunity to help others. At some point, you gotta look up and see the suffering and know that, even in a limited way you can help. Helping others is kind of a selfish act because it does make you feel good (well at least it makes me feel good)
- Play poker. Texas Holdem Poker is the best game ever created. I love it. Thank you, Solomon Island Poker Association.
- Life is like a plate of fried fish heads...Sure, you got fried fish heads staring up at you. Its glossy big eyes and mouth can kind of gross a person out. But fish heads are delicious and everyone eats them here. Its kind of an initiation rite. To me it was about eating what people here eat, accepting their life and their food and being open to view life, at least in part, the way they do. I can never really walk in another person's shoes but I can eat the fish heads. That, at least, I can do.
- On a boat, always wear more sunscreen than you think you need, a hat, sun glasses, and always have your eperb and life jacket ready. Oh and bring an MP3 player. It helps.
- Trust in a higher power. Cause its amazing I'm still alive. Thanks universe, God, Pele, Gaia, whatever, thank you for keeping me alive during that one time that I'm not supposed to tell my parents about. Ever. My dad has too many white hairs already...
- Let it go. Sure bad stuff has happened to each of us. We have all been heartbroken, disappointed and sad. But at some point, we just got to let it go or else it just gets ugly. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing; as a friend told me recently, forgiveness is saying that “I don't have the right to judge you.” And its true; we don't have the right to judge someone else's actions. We all want to be forgiven of wrongs we have perpetrated against others. So letting it go was one lesson I had to learn because until I did, I couldn't really move forward. I was stuck. Now I am not anymore. I forgave. I let go.
- Don't sit on public toilet seats. In the Solomons, you can get your ass bitten by fire ants and possibly land crabs. It is an unpleasant experience. Learn from my mistakes, people.
The above equals just some of the great lessons learned here in the Solomons and my travels around the world.
In three months, I will be done here and I know it will be bitter sweet. I am excited about moving to Wellington (whoops! Me and my big mouth...Ah well, I guess that was going to come out soon anyway) but I don't know if I will ever stop loving the beautiful ocean, mountains and people that are here. Coming here has changed my life and whilst the journey isn't over yet, I feel that already I have gained more than I have given. I am eternally grateful to this messed up little country, floating quietly in the warm south seas of the Pacific.
All my love to wherever you are,S