So just like that we have gone. Started. Rolling on down that bloody road like little Bob Dylans. I would like to say it was all dreamy looks through wind blown hair and an arm out the window but it was EMOTIONAL!
All that thought I had put into the leaving song (thanks to all those with brilliant suggestions) seemed so theoretical and strange as I actually looked down and pressed play on the iPod. So many years of thinking, pondering, planning, dreaming, hoping, wondering and packing and suddenly I was there. RIGHT there, pushing the car into first gear and marvelling that I was actually doing it.
Half way through Florence and The Machine’s Never Let Me Go I suddenly realised that I had chosen a song that was maybe unnecessarily and excessively emotional. Zoe’s face was streaming with tears, Ellie was a sobbing mess. Stoic little Tully just looked at me as if to say “Let’s get on with it” and I went kind of numb. It was different from what I imagined. Strange and unexpected. We worked our way through London Still and then as Bliss n Esso Cant Get Rid of This Feeling fired up as we swept past a gloomy looking Melbourne, I finally let out an uncontainable WHOOP!, stuck my arm out of the window and slapped the steering wheel.
There was no turning back now. We were there.
A few hours before all of this I was struck deeply by the crazy notion of presence. Being right there right then at that exact moment – when you had waited for that moment for SOOOO long.
I was packing the trailer that morning, cramming in excessive amounts of gear that we would never use and I went into “control mode”. Any parent knows this mode (though its not limited to them!). You just need to get the job done – whether it’s clean the house, do the lunches or extract yourself from somewhere – and you enter this focused state of being where nothing else matters. Not sure about others but I get really sharp and clipped and start ordering the kids around. Probably not really pleasant or fun to be around if I think about it. But when the job has to be done the job has to be done.
So there I was getting short and snappy and I was almost physically struck still by the realisation that I was turning that moment from something fun into something serious and controlled. But this time I could not deceive myself by saying “don’t worry – tomorrow I will be back to fun dad”. There was no tomorrow. There was no second go at this. This was the ONE and ONLY time we would EVER leave on this trip and I was turning it into something serious and unenjoyable for the girls. Their memory of leaving this little home would be one of seriousness and order. Not adventure and joy.
How many times had I entered into a state of mind that I didn’t like or think was me. And how many times had I drifted through this thinking “tomorrow I will be better and everything will be fine”. That the people I have annoyed or dragged down will forget yesterday. The things I failed to do will just get done tomorrow and everything will all balance out.
But this time there was no later. I couldn’t do it again the next day. I couldn’t try again. The finality was brought home and I realised that “this was it”. This whole journey was about an experience of adventure, learning and joy so I had better get my act together and start making the memories good ones.
So I am trying really hard. We are 6 days in, we have already covered 1% of our time away. There is no later on this one. Do it well now or that is it.
It just made me realise how often I had done the opposite.