Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

What Are You Looking For           

My mother used to say, “Why? You live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.” This was her response any time I told her we were off travelling again. It didn’t matter to her where we were going. She wasn’t interested in hearing about the isolated backcountry treks in the Purcell’s, the jungles of Peru, the sunsets in northern Spain or the hills of Umbria. She wanted to understand why I had to leave Whistler. “You have everything you need,” she’d say, “what are you looking for?”

Without question, she was right. I do live in a slice of paradise. And, yes, Whistler provides me with everything I’ve ever wanted from a community: solitude and support to do my work, friendships to sustain me, and an outdoor and cultural lifestyle to entertain any desire.  Yet, surprisingly it’s not enough.

 As I’ve mentioned in many a previous blog, I’m a creature of habit. I like routine. The word, ‘like’ doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about routine. The word, ‘love’ would be more accurate, especially if it is used in the same way a young fan of Justin Beiber might use it: capitalized, bolded, underscored and shouted.

My routines allow me to fit everything I want to do into the pockets of time available. And when I can do this (squeeze everything in), I feel as though I can juggle my own and other people’s expectations of me. And, I’m moving forward and accomplishing stuff, which means I’m checking things off my list.

But, after doing the same old, same old every day, I get bored with myself, my routines, my lists. A restlessness surfaces I can’t describe. I feel agitated. I begin to question everything I’m doing. Why am I writing? Why am I organizing the Whistler Writers Festival? What’s the point of all this effort? Who cares?

I know I’m spinning downwards out of control when I begin making up work to do that doesn’t need to be done and I’m avoiding the work that does need doing. These useless activities allow me to stay busy while adding variety that my regular day doesn’t have. Next, lethargy settles over me like a stifling cloak. The simplest of tasks becomes difficult to do, much less think about. I get nothing done.

It’s at this point, I know I have to get away or at least plan a get away so that I have something to look forward to. Travelling, meeting new people, trashing my routines allows me to come back invigorated, committed and with a whole lot of new material for my writing. I’m not necessarily looking for anything more than just a change of scenery, fresh experiences.

None of this would have made sense to my mother. And I must admit, it’s hard even for me to comprehend. And yet, I know instinctively, paradise can only be appreciated if you get away from it from time to time.


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