Calum McSwiggan

Waiting For My Real Life To Begin

In Eat, Love on November 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Waiting For My Real Life To Begin

And you said be still my love, open up your heart, and let the light shine in.’

– Colin Hay

The room hushed and the candles flickered in the dim evening light, my closest friends eagerly leaned forwards as they listened to my boyfriend deliver my birthday speech- and then everybody fell silent as he got down on one knee, clicked open a ring box, and asked me to marry him.

The hardest experience of my life came a few months later when it all came toppling down on top of us, six years of building a life together were shattered in one instant. I had to give up the job I adored, the home I cherished, and the man I loved all in one heartbeat. And so not knowing what else to do, I wrapped myself up inside a tiny silk cocoon, told myself it was okay to let my heart decide how to fill my days, and I left.

I travelled and searched for a new home– rediscovering love, exploring my inner landscape, undergoing my own personal metamorphosis. Everything went so smoothly, each day falling effortlessly into the next, mending my broken heart, and giving me a new vitality for life. Each new story was another protective layer in my shell, and each new experience helped me transform that little bit more.

But although I was living some of the best experiences of my life, I knew that this lifestyle had no permanence, never staying in one place for more than two weeks wasn’t practical, and I couldn’t keep perpetuating it forever. Like all good things, it would eventually come to an end.

And it needed to. I was developing a new curiosity for love, desperate to explore romance that doesn’t end in me disappearing on a train; anxious to jump back on the coat-tails of my career and start the climb to the top; and eager to find myself that home that I craved- but I couldn’t do any of that unless I resolved to stay in one place.

It was something I fought hard against, I didn’t want this country-hopping adventure to end, and so when that hurricane hit New York and abruptly forced my trip into a halt, I knew that it was a sign. I was left without money, without plans, and without a place to stay. A huge part of me felt like I was at the beginning, like it had all been a waste of time, but there was a confident voice rising up inside of me, telling me that this was it- now was the time to start rebuilding my life.

So for the first time in six months I finally stopped running. I booked a flight to Spain and set up shop in my parents’ guest bedroom, I took in my surroundings, and asked myself what was the next step. The answer came hard and fast, it was time to hatch a dream I’d been harbouring for as long as I could remember, but this dream required something in abundance, something that I didn’t have, that thing they say makes the world go round. Money, money, money. My savings were obliterated, my bank account emptied, I didn’t have a penny to my name.

I’d already signed a contract for a not-very-well-paid job in an Austrian ski-resort, but I no longer wanted to take it. I knew I couldn’t keep accepting less-than-minimum-wage-jobs just because they give me the opportunity to travel- it was conflicting with everything I really wanted. Love, a home, and a career.

And so I took my best friend’s advice and I stopped kicking and screaming, I kept the Austrian job in reserve, and let everything just happen. And then like magic everything fell into place on the evening of Thanksgiving. It was exactly a year since my heart had been broken, and that dull-ache that had always lived inside of me was everything but gone; I’d found home in breaking bread with my family; and new creative projects began piling up faster than I could realise them. And then like clockwork, as I finished my slice of pumpkin pie, I was offered a new job. A job that would fund my dreams, the ticket to my next adventure, the start of something big.

This was all just a stepping stone to realising my dreams, but I could already feel myself breaking free of that protective cocoon I once built for myself. It took me a year, but I was finally not only healed, but transformed. When I woke the following morning I was free, and when I climbed out into the warm morning sun I could feel my wings fluttering gratefully.

I had speculated that there was a reason for that hurricane, a reason for cancelling my trip, a reason for my being here, but I never thought I’d find the answer so fast. They say that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can cause a hurricane halfway around the world, but it’s obvious to me now, my truth is just the opposite.

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