Hey guys, it’s Carly!
It’s been a while since we shared any of our adventures from Southeast Asia with you. And we wanted to come clean and share my personal journal entry on what’s been going on in our heads lately.
We’ve been grappling with a very big decision at a very poignant time in our lives, and I think a horror movie just helped us figure it out.
It’s Halloween and our last night in Cambodia. I actually think this country has seen the bulk of our suffering during this trip. And out of all the countries for us to fight a desperate emotional battle, Cambodia would be it. It has gone through so much so recently; it’s like the ripples of darkness can still cast a shadow onto travellers making their way through.
Firstly, we’ve been really challenged with our expectations of ourselves, and, to a lesser extent, of each other. We went into this saying “We’re going to grow, and this is how we’re going to do it.” We thought challenging ourselves to maintain a blog with weekly videos was going to set us up to find our artistic voice and be poised for success and happiness afterwards. But instead it put pressure on the pressure cooker and backfired.
It’s been almost two weeks now since we’ve done any blog posts or meaningful video editing because we’ve been trying to avoid a meltdown. We reached a point when we realized “This is probably the only time in our lives that we’re going to be on a trip like this, and we’re wasting it feeling the lowest we’ve ever felt just because of stupid ambition.”
So we released ourselves. We stopped expecting to make any career headway whatsoever while we travel. It wasn’t easy… if you know Johnny and I, our ideas are always grand and elaborate, and maybe a little scheming. But we were crumbling under the weight of a load that nobody told us to carry. Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we think that’s what will make us happy? Well clearly our philosophies need a revision. So now, we’ve decided our only challenge is to make the most of every day we have here, whatever that entails. Holing up in a bungalow for weeks at a time doing nothing but playing strip cribbage, no problem. Island hopping from one beach to another and never touching the camera? Sure! Let’s try living on a whim.
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect; as we were coming around to the idea of kicking our overly high expectations to the curb, Johnny got an intriguing job offer from the company he left a year and a half ago–in Kelowna.
At first we rejected the idea, because that wasn’t the plan! We were going to keep living in Vancouver for at least another year, maybe two, giving freelancing our best shot while saving for a house and starting a family somewhere along the way. But then we slowly started coming around: a stable job for Johnny to go home to, a team to work with, a specialty in Motion Design? It wouldn’t have to be forever. Two years honing his skills, being close to his family and our two nieces, playing music with one of our favourite musicians of all time. I could get into Kelowna’s theatre scene. Get a job in radio but this time feel like I’m doing them a favour instead of them me. Vancouver would still be there in two years. And we could start a family sooner.
At least, that’s how it all could go theoretically.
We’ve been so back and forth on it, I’m not even sure I trust our latest stance on it. But I do know one thing: I want to be able to tell my kids I gave my dreams a fighting chance. Because for me, my dream is to let my heart find its true expression, and I’m beginning to recognize what that looks like. It’s not ambition, that’s for sure. But it’s not playing it safe, either. Yes, knowing Johnny had a job when we got home and that his parents would welcome us with open arms until we got settled would give us more comfort while we’re here, and more freedom. But why couldn’t we give that to ourselves by just trusting in our future in Vancouver? Or by allowing living in the moment to trump ambition?
We always think happiness has to be a pursuit, but I think happiness comes when you stop the pursuit. You can’t chase it; it’ll come to you. So whether we choose to move to Kelowna and geographically curb our ambition or we choose to stick to our original plan in Vancouver, the outcome of our happiness will be steered by our mindset. We are making a choice to set aside striving for success and ego so we can instead live our lives being more honest to ourselves, and more immersed in Now. The honest truth is, now is the time for us to live like that. It becomes riskier once you start your family; more to lose and more to protect. And for Johnny and I, living Now will always end in art and self expression. And it will be honest, and good.
This horror movie we watched tonight, The Babadook, it riled me inside. It was scary as hell, but when I started to see the emotional and psychological parallels I was able to cope with my fear knowing: the film was actually about facing your demons. In the case of our protagonist, she was facing her seven-years-long buried grief from losing her husband on the day she gave birth to their son. Afterwards, just to back up my theory, we watched an interview with the writer-director and she conceded that the concept began with her curiosity about people who shove their emotions down, and how it must feel to finally face them. It was miraculous to me, to see such an artful, expressive and emotionally penetrating movie spawn from similar musings I’ve had before. In a metaphor that resonated powerfully with me, but came from her mind. It made me want to pay more attention to the art that springs up in my own mind when fiddling with idle musings. And writing, acting, voicing, film, playing music–those are my canvases.
If we moved to Kelowna and I started working in radio again, I would be denying myself the opportunity to at least TRY making my art a priority. Hosting on a music radio station is not my art. Maybe it could be one day, but without first chasing my true dreams, the strong compulsions I had since a child and still have to this day, I think radio would just resume its place as my captor.
We have more to think on with this, I know. But I’m happy–so happy!–to be headed to Bangkok knowing we are going to do WHATEVER we like in this country! This is our time to be inspired by every little moment, with utter freedom. And if that leads us to a 10-day vow of silent meditation in a Buddhist monastery, well then this quest of self exploration could really take an interesting turn.
Maybe I’ll write again soon–I hope I will! Depends on the moment.