Oct 18, 2016
By Julie Soares
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a poem by Pablo Neruda entitled “You start dying slowly.” It resonated with me, and expressed the way that I was feeling 3 years ago, before my life took a detour from its original trajectory. There are not many things in this world that I am afraid of, but dying without fully experiencing life is one of my greatest fears.
“You start dying slowly
If you become a slave of your habits,
Walking every day on the same paths…
If you do not change your routine.”
Freedom and fulfillment of dreams are central to the North American ideal, but many of us don’t feel free. Instead, we feel enslaved to our jobs and our lifestyles like we are just part of the rat race, mechanically putting one foot in front of the other. It wasn’t long ago that I felt trapped in my life, like I was living in auto-pilot, moving through each day without anything special and feeling unsatisfied. I was in my fifth year as a junior high/middle-school science teacher in my hometown, and although I loved my job and my students, I felt stuck. Everyone else seemed to be moving forward, finding love, settling down, and having families. Yet here I was, doing the “same old things”; I was not content to “settle”. But what could I do?
“You start dying slowly
If you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job,
[…] If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain,
If you do not go after a dream […]
Or you do not speak to those you don’t know.”
I have always had a love of traveling, since my first plane rides and car trips across Canada as a toddler to visit family. I was very fortunate to have the experience of doing a semester abroad in university, and it lit the fire to try life in another country. When I finished university, I dreamed of teaching overseas. The more unsatisfied I felt with my life, the more my desire to teach abroad increased. I made the decision to move overseas, and after being denied a leave of absence, I resigned from my position, packed up my life and my house, and moved to England. By moving abroad, I was forcing myself to meet new people, try new things and change my routines. There were many new things to experience and different customs to learn to try to fit into my new surroundings.
” You start dying slowly
If you do not travel,
If you do not listen to the sounds of life
If you do not appreciate your life […]
If you avoid to feel passion.”
I struggled when I first moved, and found that I still wasn’t as happy as I had hoped to be. I was forced to figure out my passions. I always knew that traveling was a passion of mine, but I was very fortunate to meet a group of diverse women who helped me rediscover another passion of mine, dance. One of my favourite things when I am visiting a different region, or country, is to learn about their food and about their culture, in particular, the way that music influences people and their outlooks on life. This was especially evident when I took my next leap to Colombia. One of the most diverse countries in South America, there are so many different cultures all blended into one, and it makes for an amazing and lively blend of music and movement. Nothing can make you happier than some cool Colombian beats!
Since traveling is my passion, I felt the most alive when I was able to get out of London and travel throughout Europe. I tried to figure out a way that I could experience that presence in my day to day life. One advantage of such a large city, is that it made exploring close to home quite easy. There are so many different parks, markets and sites to see, that most weekends, I would make an effort to immerse myself in my environment.
It actually took living in Colombia, in a city that lacked parks, for me to realize how important nature is to feeling free and satisfied with life. For those that may not have the ability to travel far from home, going to the local park, the mountains or the ocean is another great way to free yourselves from the stresses and confines of daily life. What I discovered from moving around the world, is that to feel free, you don’t have to go far. By paying attention to your surroundings, and surrounding yourself with nature, you too can feel free.
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About the Author
I am a science teacher who has taught in Canada, England and Colombia. I speak English, French and Spanish, and love traveling and dancing. I also really enjoy trying foods from around the world.