It’s just about closing time in a random corner pub in East London. It’s packed and I’m about as drunk as I can get without trying to order a kebab from the table opposite me or attempt to select ‘Piano Man’ on the ATM machine in the corner… Sitting in front of me is a group of mainly locals I just met and we’re getting on really well…
So well in fact that I’m halfway through a rambling spiel all about why penguins are my favourite type of non-flying bird (presented with the passion and skill of a 1942 Winston Churchill in his prime) As the sounds of my closing argument escape my lips crushing the Dodo (the penguins nearest competitor) it really sinks in that I’m having a thoroughly good time… and to think that I wasn’t even going to come out tonight!
It’s funny how often that happens… How some of the best things in life actually only happened because we got off our butts, left home and just showed up.
This idea got me thinking about the countless times during travel (or life in general) that opportunities seem to present themselves almost out of nowhere. These opportunities, like little gifts from the universe, just float into our lives and always seem to present themselves when we put ourselves out there on a limb or just out of our comfort zones a little.
If you just go ahead and show up things will generally take care of themselves. The perfect example is my earlier mentioned Dodo crushing, Penguin commending, all round great speech (of monumentally awesome proportions). Had I not showed up I would never have met this particular group of like-minded individuals so the crushing victory of the penguins would never have taken place and thus there would be 5 more people in the world still convinced of the Dodos’ potential superiority (ok let’s be honest what I really mean is I now have 5 new friends and contacts in the UK, just cause I showed up and didn’t stay home and watch the second season of The Walking Dead).
Could there ever be a better example of ‘just showing up’ than in travel? Almost everything you do while abroad is about showing up, not just physically but metaphorically too. You need to be out there and present each and every day or new experiences will pass you by without you even acknowledging them or having any hope of grasping these new opportunities before they disappear.
One of the most important lessons from travel I have learnt is that if I just show up, things have a pretty good habit of working out for the best. In my experience these things may not happen in the manner you first expected but often they happen in new and unexpected ways that work just as well in the end.
My mum always told me that we have to make our own luck. Touché dear mother, touché..
A better example of a life changing moment brought about by just ‘showing up’ was the night I met my girlfriend of 7 years (I know, I know put a ring on it already). A mutual friends’ birthday is where we lay our scene, it just so happened that she almost didn’t get out of bed to attend the evenings festivities, but fate intervened and luckily for her… she showed up… giving me the chance to woo her with the seduction skills of the love child of Casanova and Brad Pitt (we met when I accidentally elbowed her in the face during an energetic impression of a friend’s Poodle humping my leg).
Hot Tip: Mixed martial art strikes are rarely the ideal way to get on a ladies good side but the up side is, you will get her attention..
Penguins, dodos and mixed martial arts aside, the lesson taught to me here by 4 unexpected strangers in an East London pub is that when in doubt, all you need to really do is show up. You will almost never regret it.