The kid and I hopped onto a ferry for a quick getaway to Bintan, Indonesia, this week. It is the school holidays, she picked the resort, and I laid down my caveat: we were going to do nothing. I did not want a crazy, activity-packed break, and was desperate to catch up on reading, lounging and my legs needed some vitamin D (else they look like something death had washed over).
We were blessed with great weather and an uneventful journey (one-hour ferry ride, 1.5hr van ride to the resort). We headed to the pool after lunch, and kid, hardly able to contain her excitement was asking if we could go kayaking (which I promised we would the next day), then repeatedly asked me to join her in the pool. I wanted to finish the book I was reading (a hilarious, somewhat relatable account by Pamela Druckerman about heading into mid-life) but also soon fell asleep in the hot afternoon sun, book on my chest.
I was woken up shortly after when the kid hoisted herself out of the pool and flopped her wet, dripping body next to mine on the lounge chair, asking me, again, to join her in the pool. Given I was already soaked halfway through at the point, I jumped in.
As I was floating on my back, head mostly submerged in the water, all I could hear was my breathing. And I realised, the gentle, steady rhythm of my breathing that was reverberating through my body was very much unlike the previous sounds of breathing I had before. It used to be ragged, my heart pounding in my ears from anxiety.
If I was not travelling for work, usually under highly stressful situations, I was travelling to run away from something, from sadness, anger, a broken heart; or to chase something, a promise of a future, acceptance, or approval. I am oft mistaken into thinking that by leaving the country, I would somehow acquire a bandaid big enough to make everything better
Although, one time, my best friend dragged me along on a company retreat. Her graduating interns babysat the kids, while I slept under the shade of a tree. I left that trip (coincidentally, also at Bintan), with a strong resolve knowing that I could beat that sadness that was clouding my heart. And I did.
But this trip was different. I arrived whole. In one piece and at peace. I did not need the magical bandaid. I did not need to search for any form of healing. I was there simply to enjoy the serenity, the water, the sun, the food, the written word, the company of my child. I have arrived.
This revelation made my heart skip a beat. I felt like an excited child, bestowed with something new. A shiny new toy. A reward for working so hard towards something; working towards bettering myself, mentally, physically and emotionally in the past year and a half.
My days are simple now. I send the kid to school, hop into a yoga class, go to work, come home and do revision with the kid or chill. Weekends are when I am most content to be in the company of people I love, fitness and/or drinks by the river, a dancing night on the occasion, or curled up on my couch binge-watching something. I used to live on rules and expectations, as I had a certain fixed mind-set about how things should be. I have come to realise that those rules made me very unhappy, and I have learnt to let that all go, and just be.
This feeling of wholeness, peace and a much deeper understanding of myself, is simply amazing.