If I could change one thing about myself, it would be to cast off my tendency to often be wishing I were somewhere else. (That, or I’d make myself super-handsome and muscly, but this is a better blog post.)
Since returning from my latest expedition in Mongolia and China, I’ve been living in London. I live in a lovely little flat just minutes away from Hampstead Heath in the north of the city. I’ve always felt that if I must live in a big city (and for now I must!) then I need to be near large green spaces. Hampstead Heath with its trees, hills, ponds and trails fits the bill perfectly.
When I was in the Chinese wilderness at -20C, freezing my butt off and feeling (on occasion) utterly cold and miserable, I would often dream of such a scenario – having a nice warm house with all the modern day luxuries we enjoy, plus a wonderful and accessible green space to regulate my outdoor fix. Of course, now I am here, I find myself getting frustrated by the people in the park, the crowds on the streets, and even the easy, reliable comfort of my house, which requires no effort from me in order to enjoy it.
Rather obviously, this is a poor mindset to have. Ideally I should enjoy and maximize my time wherever I find myself, and be thankful for the opportunities. And, much of the time I do manage to do this. However, for good or for bad, wanderlust, thirst for adventure and general restlessness are things which work their way into one’s very soul, infiltrating every minute of every day and waiting for an opportunity to strike, often in the form of “Wouldn’t it be so much better to be in this place?” or “Imagine how much better life would be if I were doing that exciting activity and didn't have to do this boring stuff?”
These thoughts are exciting and liberating, especially on dull, grey days in busy cities. They can be the start of something extremely special. But they can also lead to wishing away life, and there’s nothing worse than always wishing you were somewhere else, doing something else, being someone else.
So while my life is here, on the southern edge of Hampstead Heath, I make a concerted effort each day to remind myself how fortunate I am, and that I should make the most of my time here. There will be plenty of other locations and activities in due course. Each day that I wake in my bed here I make sure to run, walk or cycle to my favourite place on the Heath – the top of the southern facing hill with an awesome view over London (for my money, the best in the city.) Looking down over the London Eye, the Gherkin, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, Canary Wharf…I cannot fail but be inspired to make the most of my day. To make the most of every day in London.
Life is too short not to make the most of it, whatever the situation. This, I’m learning.
(Apologies for rubbish photos from the Heath -they're taken on a very old iPhone while my camera gets mended...)