The quest for joy

IMGP7843 Decision making is a fascinating process, and I have just been in the unpleasant position of watching myself, and feeling myself go through it. First there was the anger that my current plan was not going to work out. Then the realisation that I had choices and so I could recover some power in the situation. Then the turmoil inside because both the possible choices involved some compromises: in one case more financial and practical, and in the other more of the heart. Both the choices included some risk. Both the choices would let other people down. But one choice, and only one choice included the possibility of real joy for myself and for my family and for Carlos. And in the end, for better or for worse I have gone for that choice.

When I left England I promised myself that I would try to live my life by following my heart. I decided to always make the choice that had the best chance of bringing me joy. I decided that I had been through enough sad times, compromised times, ‘doing it because you feel you have to’ times. I promised that I would seek to walk as close to my soul as possible, as close to my truths as possible, as close to my heart as possible. I resolved to work for joy in my life. But this is a new way of living for me, and I am only just getting used to it. It is not a habit yet and so my head tries to drag me back to the old ways.

My decision this time took about a week  to make and action. These were a horrible seven days. There were a lot of sick feelings in my tummy, there were a few long phone calls to my family, there were some tears. But the worst was my mind: how it struggled. One minute it plunged towards one solution and the next towards the opposite choice. I couldn’t hear my own heart clearly. There was a lot of confusion.

In the end once again, my mother helped me. She sent me an email and in it she was positive about one of the choices. As I read the email I felt a huge wave of relief, and then I knew what my own heart wanted. It was the equivalent of tossing a coin on a decision and noticing your gut reaction. My reaction to her email was not, ‘Oh yes but…’. Instead it was, ‘Oh yes.’ And that was it, I made my decision.

I had to wait a couple of days before I could take action. The people I needed were unavailable. It takes time for emails to go back and forth. I had to sit with not knowing if my chosen path was in fact possible. That was uncomfortable too. It allowed time for my head to try and fight with my heart yet again. It allowed time for pessimism. It allowed time for doubts to creep in.

Eventually time found me at Carlos sitting on a bench outside our travel agent in Avenida Corrientes going through the final ‘What ifs?’ and ‘Can yous?’: ‘What if the dates we want are not available?’, ‘What if the passport still hasn’t come?’, ‘Can you really wait another two months to see your family?’ , ‘Can you really cope financially?’… Seriously you can go on like that forever when there are potential issues with both options.

Finally I stood up. ‘No, come on. We are doing it. We have to. I want the chance of joy. I want it for you. I want it for my family and I want it for me. If there is a chance of happiness for all of us I will take it. We are doing it.’

And so once again we sat in front of the agent. And once again we confirmed flight dates. I will stay here until late February, and he will follow me (if he has the passport) in mid March. It gives two months longer than the 40 working days for the passport. It gives us the chance to be together with my family over Easter when they are all on holidays (being teachers in the UK). It gives us the chance to sit around the dinner table, all of us: mum, dad, my sisters, their husbands, their children, me and Carlos. It gives us the chance to laugh and joke about what we went through to get there. It gives us the chance of happy memories of family time together in England.

I know how easy it might be to think I am crazy. God knows I have thought it myself. Why don’t I just go home for six weeks, sort out some practical matters, see some people and come back here to Carlos? Well this is why:

One. I want to have a chance of showing Carlos my life in England while I still have one. After my flat is rented out, I won’t have a home there. Being in England will mean living out of suitcases in other peoples houses, often in fairly unfamiliar parts of the country. It will be a holiday yes, but it won’t be even a residue of my previous reality. I want him to know my last home, my local friends, my last life. I want him to understand where I have come from. There is still a chance of all of that with the choice I have made.

Two. And this is perhaps the one that matters the most of all. I’ve been away from my family for coming up to a year. We are lucky. We are a very close bunch. We love each other deeply. The final times we saw each other in England I was ill, stressed, distressed, even suicidal. That is how they remember me the when they saw me last. The days we had together at the end of my life in the UK were not happy ones. I want to help to replace those memories with laughter and joy for every one of us. Who knows what the future holds? Who knows when I will be going back again?

Yes I know there is a risk, that the passport never comes and I have to go alone anyway. And then I will have no choice. My ticket back to England runs out at the beginning of March. Well, if I do end up back there on my own, at least I will have tried to fight for joy. I will have tried to follow my heart. I will have tried to be true to myself. These are the promises I made around a year ago. And I will have kept them.

Through this situation I have learned much about trying to live a new life in a new country. It can feel like it is tearing you apart. If you have your love in one country and your family in another it hurts. If you have responsibilities in both countries, it confuses. If you have things to organise in both countries, it troubles. If you have to let people down it distresses, them and you. I am learning that the practicalities and the emotions of living my dream are not easy.

I am glad that I did not understand what was ahead of me when I left England in the first place. I am glad I only thought I was coming for three months. I think things have been revealed to me gradually for a reason. Now I am well aware that a life in two lands is not an easy choice, and if you are lucky enough to have people you love in both, then it is always going to be painful.

So would I go back on trying to live my dream? Do I wish I had never come to Argentina? Would I rather live without these challenges? NOT FOR ONE MINUTE! Yes my life can feel raw, yes my life is full of new learning, yes my life contains risk. But this is potentially the reality of any life, in any country. Mine are just different challenges to those that I have been used to. I knew from the start that once the ‘honeymoon’ period was over, life would become life again. What has changed is that I am prepared to face it head on, in whatever circumstances and I am determined to keep fighting for joy.


16 Responses

  1. Sally! 🙂

    I see nothing crazy about your choice at all. It makes perfect sense. To me it seems the most logical. But I understand how hard it is to come to terms with these decisions and I’m sure your family must be aching for you but hey – the result of this decision is that EVERYBODY is happy and all together. And that’s wonderful. Congratulations and I’ll see you in February, at least for the early part! 🙂


  2. Tina thank you for your words and positivity.

    Yes, as the dust settles I see it as the logical choice too. After I make a decision everything shrinks to its right size and I think, ‘What the hell was all the fuss about?’. But at the time, when you are struggling with the consequences, the ifs buts and maybes, it seems so massive. Or at least in this case, it did to me!
    Perhaps it is just that I am not used to choosing the way of joy for myself, and I always think I am being selfish and feel guilty if I do.
    Anyway, yesterday I finally dealt with the last consequence of my choice, and so I am waking up today happy, relaxed and free of troubles once more.
    What a heavenly feeling.

    And yes, we will meet in February! Perfect.


  3. Hey Sallycat, go for the bliss!
    How can that ever be wrong?

  4. Thanks Cherie!
    No it can’t be wrong, and it feels GOOD!


  5. So happy to hear that you have made a decision, and that it is your own, and in the best interest of you and your new life, and your love. In any case, if you have to be apart in the spring, it will be O.K. and you will love the sweetness of getting back together! Good for you. E

  6. Yes Elizabeth,
    I feel that now I can manage whatever the reality turns out to be. I have peace of mind and I think that the experience of this situation is making me stronger. In the end what will be will be. And we will survive to love another day…
    Thank you for your supportive words. It is great to receive them.

  7. Hey Sally, Merry Christmas,
    May we meet in November.
    Besos, E

  8. Hola Sally…

    I enjoyed reading this post…I wish you the best of luck…your trip back to England…Carlos’ passport…his visit there…your return to Buenos Aires…and a fanastic 2008…

    Happy New Year!

  9. Elizabeth, yes may we meet in November. I would love to.
    Suerte for 2008 my fellow tanguera and blogger!

    Alex, thank you! At least I am starting the year with a happy heart and mind free of turmoil. I have felt calmer and calmer each day after making this decision. Christmas was peaceful and joyful as a result. I am certain that 2008 will be another year of discovery for me, but I get stronger every day and so I hope that I can handle whatever the universe throws in my direction!
    I wish you every happiness for the year ahead, and gorgeous tangos too.


  10. Have you ever thought in the underlying meaning of making “up” a decision?

    Good luck!

  11. Kolyiken

    I guess the phrase ‘making up your mind’ points me in the right direction: going for the ‘up’, going for the joy!


  12. Dear Sally,

    Like Tina, I don’t see anything crazy in this decision! I think you’ve done the right thing, by going with your heart–at the end of the day, it will give you the opportunity to share your love, your life, your happiness with everyone. Congratulations 🙂

  13. Thank you Tanguera.
    As the days pass, I know I wasn’t crazy. Now it seems absolutely the right decision… the obvious choice.
    Everyone is calm again, and especially me.
    I’ve just got to remember this experience the next time the need to make a decision comes into my world!

  14. Dear Sallycat,

    I think everything you’ve shared with us so far would lead us to expect that this is the path you would follow. It makes perfect sense. Many things that appear “crazy” to others oftentimes are the most true paths to action. You are such an example to others in listening to your heart and going from there.

    Wishing you all the best and hoping things turn out even better than you expect.


  15. Thank you Tangobaby
    It is wonderful to come home to your words tonight.
    Yes, I am sure I am walking on the road of the heart. And I am really thinking now that each time I manage to hear what my heart is saying, it is actually getting easier to hear it. I’ve just been really out of practice up until recently!
    Anyway I am going to keep listening…

  16. Oops! As I read your blogs going backwards, it looks like we’ll missing seeing each other. *warm smile*

    Nonetheless, I hope everything comes true for you, Sally, passport and everything. If anyone deserves happiness and joy, it’s most def, YOU.

    G’luck. Hugs, “Sly” 🙂

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