“Think 100 times before you take a decision, but once that decision is taken, stand by it as one man.”
I’ve been back and forth as to whether I should continue on to Bhutan or not for what seems like a very long time. After reaching Canada I was tired, desperate, cold, and lonely. As much as I know it will be difficult to let go of Bhutan as my destination it seems important to listen deeply to my complete being – body, heart, and mind.
It seemed that all signs were pointing me towards returning home. It felt clear.
Yet I didn’t fully commit to the return. Why did I not commit? Uncertainty and indecisiveness are generally not good for one’s happiness. There didn’t seem to be any real urgency, I suppose. I wanted to feel into the decision a little more.
I began something of a return by heading East from Vancouver to Toronto by train on what will easily be the most spectacular train journey of my life. The train snaked through Canada covering 4,400kms over 5 days. As the train left the station in Vancouver I noticed a sadness within, but there was also a sense of relief in my body. It felt right. So far…
Whilst I was on that train something unexpected happened. There was an article published in a well-known UK newspaper about my journey. This had come about because I wrote an article about my journey for a blog in the UK that has a decent readership. I must admit the response I got from both of these articles tickled my ego quite a bit, yet I certainly didn’t want my ego leading me down a path my deeper self didn’t want to go. I remained vigilant, watchful, conscious. . .I haven’t particularly liked Toronto – it’s a city where people are very busy and where making connections seems quite difficult – but whilst in the area I did re-connect in with Bryan Smale, who is the director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. The Canadian Index of Wellbeing is an exemplar national index of well-being (more progressive than Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index, through its theoretical grounding, public consultation, and the validity of measures used).
I first met Bryan in 2015 when I invited him to give the keynote talk about the index at a symposium I was organising on well-being at the Scottish Parliament. It was a joy to reconnect with Bryan. We talked for hours about various well-being related issues, including my journey, which Bryan told me he had been following with keen interest. Bryan, though, is very inspiring because he has been working for a long time on the frontier between academia and policy, and has been an important contributor to the conversation on well-being based policy. He has seen changes and developments and that gives me cause for hope, which is of course a major reason why I am on this trip.
As I sat on the bus back to Toronto I reflected a little on the day. I thought a bit about my journey and felt very optimistic, I felt purposeful. But to be honest most of my attention was taken up thinking about a live radio interview I had agreed to give that evening. I was nervous, but I didn’t realise how much because over the last days my attention had been elsewhere.
I think the radio interview went well. I was on The Late Late Early Early show talking for about ten minutes. Paul Ross, who interviewed me, was really supportive of my journey, whether I made it to Bhutan or not, and this morning I just woke up wondering whether actually it might be important, regardless of the resources needed (energy, time, money), to go to Bhutan after all. I know there is a lot of ego in here, and I am trying to abstract from that, but it does feel very enriching to know that what I’ve been trying to do, which feels important, may be being noticed.
We need to create societies where we can all live better, happier, and healthier lives, and if my journey to Bhutan can help spread a message around that need then perhaps I should keep pedalling on. . .in telling people I was lonely came support, in giving my body some rest I feel re-energised, so perhaps I will after all…
“There is no decision that we can make that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.”