Recently I found myself trapped on a coach for 8 hours. Alone. Surrounded by strangers, but otherwise completely alone. And – nightmare of all nightmares! With no 3G signal. Completely unable to gain access to anything I needed for work, social networking sites or online procrastination, as well as utterly unable to strike up a conversation with one of my fellow passengers (most of them were Spanish. The only thing I know how to say in Spanish is ‘patatas bravas’ which is only any use if I am then to be presented with a plate of beautiful little potatoes in sauce. Served to me by an equally beautiful Spanish waiter, accompanied by sangria. Yum. But I digress…)
I was forced to do the only thing left to me, other than fall asleep with my head against the window: – put my smart phone DOWN and have some Me Time.
This is something I feel we neglect nowadays all too easily. We lead such busy lives and there are so many demands on our time. When we do get a few minutes of peace to do whatever the hell we feel like, it’s quite easy to log onto Facebook and waste an hour of our lives browsing the utter nonsense (pictures of cats in wigs, angry rants etc) that the people we hardly ever speak to in real life are posting. And then before you know it, it’s time to do the next thing on our list.
But when you’re stuck on The Road to Nowhere (or in this case, the Road to Calais, but it comes to the same thing) and all you have is yourself, your thoughts, your iPod and a magazine that you haven’t yet found any time to read, because you’ve been so busy procrastinating on the Internet, or thinking ‘I WILL sit down and relax and read that magazine, but first I must scrub the ENTIRE KITCHEN because otherwise I cannot relax’, you’re actually confronted with relaxation and there’s nothing else for it but to kick back, put your headphones on and just…enjoy the ride.
Because someone else is driving, you CAN’T do any of the things on your to-do list because you’re stuck on a coach with no signal to the outside world, the view of endless fields and trees and little European cottages whips past your window in a soothing manner…and so there are no excuses, no get out clauses, no exceptions. You WILL sit back and you WILL relax, and for the next 7 and a half hours you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything, there are no responsibilities, no demands on your time, you don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s actually bliss.
So here’s what I did – I read my magazine. From cover to cover. Relishing every word, every celebrity interview, every page full of beauty products I will never be able to afford but enjoy looking at, every book and film recommendation it had to offer. I gave myself a manicure. I stretched out over the two seats that I had ALL TO MY SELF and kicked my boots off and listened to playlist after playlist, and made grand plans in my head for my next travel adventure, and I watched the world go by. And I told myself that everything I simply NEEDED to get done WOULD get done, but I decided to let myself wait until my journey was over to begin it all.
I find it incredibly difficult to give myself permission to relax. If you’re anything like me, and you find sitting still difficult, I highly recommend booking yourself a long coach journey to somewhere you could get to by Eurostar in half the time, turning your data roaming capabilities off, leaving your laptop at home and giving in to some enforced you-time. Everything else can wait until the end of the journey.
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