I talk a lot about the importance of generating joy and what could be more joyful than a trip? I especially thought Sweden would be a naturally joyful place. But the trouble is, you take your baggage with you, sometimes oversized with emotional items, as in my case, where my anxiety and fuzzy thinking packed themselves and came along with me.
They emerged in full force one day when I went for a walk in the countryside. A local told me about a nature reserve with a lake about an hour’s walk from where I was staying, continuing straight along one road. It sounded simple enough, but of course, I should have known better. Due to the aforementioned fuzzy thinking, I didn’t even double check where I was going on a map or write down the name of the place or even take the phone number of the people I was staying with. Worst of all, while I followed the signs to the naturreservat, I didn’t confirm with the very few people I passed that I was, in fact, going the right way, and missed an unexpected turn and got incredibly lost. It was a hot, sunny day and I’d been walking for two hours. I proceeded to have a meltdown, and was incredibly upset, crying out and raging against the universe, while also pleading with it for a solution.
I eventually encountered a cyclist, who kindly put me back in the right direction and then I met another girl who confirmed that a sign I ignored (thinking it was for somewhere else) was the one I should have followed. After another bout of walking, I eventually found the reserve and a very serene lake, in which two figures were bobbing, mainly a young couple that was also staying in my accommodation. I was not only very surprised to see them, but also immensely pleased, because I had already decided I couldn’t face walking another two hours back in the hot sun and was not looking forward to testing the Swedish attitudes to hitchhiking. But the universe came through, as it always does, and my two rescuers even told me on the car journey back that they were originally headed to another lake, but at the last minute, decided to try this one.
There are so many things I could learn from this experience, other than the importance of being focused and prepared, and of course, asking for directions. But most of all, the essentialness of being fully present in one’s situation. I was too busy fixating over finding the lake and freaking out over being lost, that I couldn’t enjoy all the wonderous creatures around me on my walk – the beautiful flowers and tiny blue butterflies and even a snake. How much better would it have been if I could have accepted my predicament, appreciated the nature around me and just CALMLY turned around and retraced my steps.
Sometimes we have to work hard at not letting a situation shatter our peace. Because without that peace, you are immersed in your agitation and are separated from everything and everyone else. And without the joy and openness that comes from being at peace, you leave yourself vulnerable to darker emotions creeping in and can’t access the beauty and magic of everything around you.