The Fire That Burns

I’ve been pretty damn content these past few months. I dare say I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been. I say dare, because in my experience, contentment hasn’t been my default state of being for long. And I’m grateful for that, because I’ve been led to amazing discoveries and experiences, both internally and externally.

This feeling of contentment, though, it was nice. Different, unusual (insert Kath Day voice here), but I’ve recently drifted out of the state of, “I could just live out my days exactly like this and be happy,” towards yearning for the different and new again. There are a few things which sparked a feeling of adventure-lust in me, and one was doing something new (swimming with whale sharks). Another was reflecting back on my life and past travels; on my own life story which has taken place on four different continents in over 30 different countries.

sarah somewhere in the world

I realised I have puzzle-pieces of my life all over the world.

I was chatting to some friends at dinner the other night and they were shocked to hear we would be leaving Playa del Carmen in February.

“But you will be back,” one of my lovely friends told me, half asking.

“Umm, maybe, probably,” I told her.

“You have roots here now, ” she told me, which was true, I do.

“Yes, but I have roots in a lot of places,” I told her, thinking about Asia and Europe and India and the little pieces of me I left in each place in exchange for the little piece of them I took with me.

I love it here in Playa del Carmen, there is no doubt about it. It has become home to me and we’ve cultivated a lifestyle here which is very agreeable to us. From our simple home, our friendly landlord, our neighbours, our gym, our favourite restaurants, our friends, that beach,  it’s as close to perfect as life could get for us, hence wanting to spend a full year here, just living.

But I also love Thailand and Bali and India and Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, oh how I love Morocco, and I love the places I haven’t been yet like Tanzania, Antarctica, Colombia and Kenya. I really love those places too, and I hope we get to see them one day.

Yet a week ago, I was feeling anxious about the prospect of traveling again, wondering if in fact I even wanted to. Because traveling is hard and uncomfortable and unsettling.

It’s also one of the greatest loves of my life.

That’s not to say that I want to travel continuously for the rest of my life, but I’ll always travel in some capacity. As long as I can, I will. It’s like a fire that continuously burns within me, sometimes as smoldering cinders and at other times a roaring flame, but always burning.

My friend Kim (who I drove across India in an auto-rickshaw with) just published her first book, Life On Fire. It’s about locating the voice within that directs you to your life’s purpose, and following it to live the life of your dreams. Kim is a living example of listening to the voice of her soul which led her to seek out a life as a traveling writer. She weaves her personal experiences into the book, such as her story of losing weight, quitting smoking and becoming a marathon runner, along with the traveling and writing part.

It is very inspirational, but also practical, because she has actually done it and outlines exactly how. The very fact that she wrote and published a book and makes a living from her writing is a testament to her ‘walking the walk’. She doesn’t claim perfection or massive wealth but has managed to change her life to become a writer and travel the world, which she believes is her life’s purpose. According to Kim, everyone has one, but we get distracted along the way somewhere, and many of us even stop listening to the voice of our soul which is directing us towards happiness and fulfillment.

I can relate to that.

I’ve also witnessed the opposite, where someone is so completely in their bliss that joy just radiates out of them. When Tyrhone’s sister Taunee visited us earlier this year, we did a lot of things. We sky dived, we stayed at a beautiful hotel, we ate at great restaurants and snorkeled with turtles. But the day she was happiest was when we visited a nearby horse ranch for a ride along the beach. Animals are her greatest love, dogs and horses especially, and the smile etched on her face for the entire day was a testament to exactly where she needs to be – with animals.

horse riding beach

I’m not sure why it’s easier to see in others than ourselves sometimes, but I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that if we had have left her at that dusty horse ranch for the rest of her life, she would have lived out her days in pure, contented bliss.

She currently works in the UK as a carer for people with special needs, which although is an important role, is not her dream job. I was delighted to hear the other day that she has enrolled in an animal behaviour and care course, and is one step closer to living her dream life among her four legged, furry friends. I just sent her a copy of Kim’s book (it’s an e-book available on Amazon) to help her along her way.

Because the world needs more happy people who do what they love.

Which brings me back to me…of course.

What is my purpose?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe there is one single thing I was put here on earth to achieve, which if I don’t I’ll be damned to a life of disappointment, but if I was going to put ‘the thing’ that makes me happy into words, what would it be?

I love to travel, yes, I love to write, yes, and I love to learn. I love to share what I learn – the stories about the people I meet and how the world has changed me. I love being transformed by the world and sharing the stories of how it happens. But I don’t necessarily see myself as a ‘writer’ because it’s not the writing itself which brings me joy. I enjoy it, yes, but if no-one was reading, it wouldn’t be meaningful to me. I don’t keep a diary or write for the sake of writing. Words themselves don’t really do it for me. What I do love is the process of translating a feeling into a thought, into a sentence, into an idea, then sharing it with others in order to connect with them.

I like to connect.

Through travel, through people, through writing.

I like to find the thread of commonality that links us together and makes us feel like we are one (which we are, I believe). I like to do that because it reminds me I’m not alone and tells you you’re not alone and that we are all in this together.

I like to share stories of kindness, compassion and generosity because that is what I have experienced in the world, even though the ‘news’ continually paints a different version. And I like to share my internal journey with others, because of the gifts I receive when people share theirs with me- connection, change and transformation.

So as contented as I have become here in Playa, the fire continues to burn within me, asking to be tended, trusted, and allowed to take me on the journey my soul desires.

All I need do, I suppose, is let it.

What fire burns within you? I’m giving away a copy of Kim’s book to one of you for your thoughts on ‘purpose,’ happiness, and living the life of your dreams (selected at random from the comments)! And if you have nothing to say but would like to be in the running to win a copy, just leave me a smiley face :-) and you’re in the draw!

Life On Fire e book

Subscribe via email for free updates, and follow me on Facebook and Google Plus!


The Fire That Burns — 43 Comments

  1. Having roots in lots of places is something I can really relate to. Sometimes it feels like I could feel at home anywhere, everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. I guess that’s part of the great thing and the hard thing about traveling and falling in love with so many different places.

    I’m still not sure of the fire burning within me. To write, to travel, to connect with others, to help others; these are things I’m passionate about. But one burning fire within? I don’t know. I hope to find this out during my travels next year. Knowing what it is in life that makes you happiest must be incredible!
    Charlie recently posted..Google Glass will change how we travel, but will you wear them?My Profile

    • Hey Charlie, I have times where I’m not sure ether, but then I do feel it is what we are doing – living simply, traveling, writing, being creative, helping others when we can, because it really has brought me so much fulfillment. Kim writes in her book that our dreams also evolve and change as we continue on our journey, so I guess it’s just a matter of being mindful to what brings us joy in a particular time in our life and continuing to check back in every now again to see if we need to take a new direction. I think it’s probably simpler than I make it sometimes, I just need to get out of my head and into my heart and relax into the process more :)

    • My fire is to keep charitable, paying it forward and doing good. Time is precious and making the best of my time here makes me happy and fulfilled. I must say that I had a pang of sadness of the news that you are leaving Playa del Carmen. I know the stories and writing will continue from other destinations but there was definitely a warmth of character through this journey’s stop along the way.

      • That is a great fire to have, Deb! Good to hear you enjoyed the posts from here, we still have another 5 months planned in Playa, so who knows what will happen in that time! Thank you for following on :-)

  2. Oh how I wish I had just one fire within me! Life would be so much simpler! To be that guy who all he wants to do is be a musician, and that’s all he focuses on would be wonderful. I have way too many things that I’m interested in, but maybesomeday I’ll narrow it down and just pick one.

    Keep up the good and interesting writing!

    • Hey Scott, I know the feeling, and can definitely relate. I certainly don’t think it’s a bad thing to have a few fires burning, just keep tending them all and see if one becomes a roaring flame! As long as we are doing the things that bring us joy, I think that is the key. Thanks for reading!

  3. Thought provoking post, Sarah. There’s just something about the written word, powerful. Sometimes I think, why would anyone want to read what I write but then people do and it just makes me feel good knowing that I had something to say. You have a lovely voice – keep sharing!

    p.s. I’ve already read Kim’s book so no need to put me in the drawing.
    Patti recently posted..My Life in France by Julia Child ~My Profile

    • Now Kim, you can’t win a copy of your own book, that wouldn’t be fair. Kidding, obviously 😉 I’m excited by the prospect of just one more person following their bliss thanks to Life On Fire, so thank you for being a living example of what you write about in the book!

  4. Thanks for another fabulous, thought-provoking post sweetness. Like many others I feel passion/fire for so many things. I love connecting with others and hearing their stories, I love sharing my life with Shane, I love being there for others in need, I love trying to make a difference and when that little boy comes to me with his bed-hair and cheeky smile and asks for a big keggle (cuddle) I think my sole purpose might be to support him through life! Sometimes I feel my greatest happiness comes from getting the balance right! But I feel the most important thing for me is to always create the space and energy to listen to my heart and not get too busy with things that don’t actually bring me happiness.
    PS- Don’t worry about putting me in the draw bc I’m going to buy the book!

    • Well being the Mother of a rockstar is quite a purpose to fulfill Eggy!!! I love your response, and so happy that you are living such a meaningful life. Rock on!!! :-)

  5. Great post Sarah. I’ll be interested to see where the winds take you next. I love this line : Because the world needs more happy people who do what they love. – partly because it reminds me of one of my very favorite quotes ever.

    “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

    ― Howard Thurman

    I wish for ALL of us to simply find what makes us come alive and then the world would be a much better place.
    Rhonda recently posted..Renewing our Spirit in KochiMy Profile

  6. Great though provoking post. Traveling is definitely a motivator for me. I have finally gotten to the point where I am 100% aware that 10 days of vacation/year isn’t enough and I am going to do something about it. My husband and I are planning for a RTW leaving next year. At the same time, we are going on 31 and still don’t have “roots” anywhere. I guess we have the rest of our lives to figure that out though, right?

    • Fantastic Alana, very excited for you! I’ve never known anyone who has regretted traveling, but plenty who have regretted not. Go for it!! (p.s roots are overrated ;-))

  7. I’ve been struggling with this quite a bit as we are leaving TODAY on our trip. Part of m wishes I just wanted to stay home and buy a house rather than do this. It would be so much easier. I’m scared for a lot of reasons, but it’s that one burning desire to discover what I’m made of and what my purpose is that keeps the fire going. Thanks for sharing, once again, your beautiful journey.
    Carmel recently posted..ON RUNNINGMy Profile

    • You are leaving today??? Which means as I am reading this, you have already begun your journey!! I can hardly believe it!! You are another excellent example of manifesting your dreams into reality, Carmel. I know how hard you guys have worked and how much you have overcome to get where you are. It’s happening baby!!!!

  8. Right now, the fire that burns within me is to start blogging about my combined loves of food and travel. I have so much to say, but it seems like I get bogged down by the tasks of my day-to-day life. I don’t make time or the effort for my voice to be heard. Time to step it up!

    • Sarah I saw your comment and know exactly how you feel!!! This last week, especially, I have felt bogged down by life in general and it was hard to get inspired! But, having been blogging for about 16mths now I can tell you that, while some days it’s a struggle and you just force yourself to get some work done, those times do pass and you read Kim’s book, or Sarah’s blog, or have a chance meeting that becomes inspirational and it’s all good again!
      Rhonda recently posted..Renewing our Spirit in KochiMy Profile

      • A wise woman once told me (Kim), ‘take the first step and the staircase appears’. It has since been true for me. Taking the first step is the hardest part. Go for it ladies!!!

  9. Love this post. Connecting with others is so important–it is what can make or break my day whether I’m away or at home.

  10. I am so jealous of those who know exactly what they want in their lives. Daily living stuff and work just seems to pile up and distract me so much. But I hope to be able to focus less on that stuff and more on what I really love to do: travel, write, and spend time with the important people (and cats!) in my life.
    Jessica | Independent Travel Cats recently posted..Travel History: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland Race Around the World in Less than 80 DaysMy Profile

    • I used to feel the same way Jessica! Sometimes the thing we were born to do is right under our nose the whole time. I always wanted to travel long-term, always wanted to write yet didn’t have anything to write about. As soon as one dream began to materialize, so did the other! Sounds like you know where you want to be, but trusting that can be the difficult part :-)

  11. I am totally taking this as a “sign” btw. . . I’m about to make some big changes in my life after having a summer of loss and frustration–Ready to take on the fall in a new direction.

  12. i know that fire.. that need to keep moving and doing and experiencing. i have loved watching your journey and reading your thoughts via the blog. you are inspiring many of my friends right along with me, simply by taking the steps many fear to take. i cannot wait to see what you guys decide to do next, where you will go, and who will be helped along the way. keep writing… xoxox (p.s. don’t enter me into any drawing, people will know you are biased and accuse me of having an unfair advantage! hahaha i’ll just buy it myself! i have a plane trip coming up…)

  13. You took the words right out of my mind, heart and mouth Sarah! This ‘purpose’ question throws me for a loop and then some, but I’ve gotten to the point where I need to feel like my contribution matters, that I’m helping (multiple) people, and on a hyper-personal note I need to have my best friend, yoga, nature and good food near by. I hope to get down to the nitty-gritty of the fabric of our lives soon.
    Lauren H. recently posted..What Four Years Living Abroad Has Taught MeMy Profile

    • Hi Lauren, I know, trusting the path we are on can be one of the biggest challenges!!! I have trouble with always wanting more, more, more, and not thinking I’m enough, when really, I’m exactly where I need to be. Great to hear from you gorgeous, I hope your ‘new life’ is going well :-)

  14. My passion is similar to yours, I love to connect with people. I also love to teach and to help people. I’ve been circling around my passions for some time, Shall I write a book, teach yoga, open a retreat/workshop space, go back to uni, become a therapist, bake cakes? I’m starting to learn that one of my central passions is variety — so I’m trying to do it ll! We’ll see how that goes…
    Victoria recently posted..DKITYTI: Radical Inquiry and The Way of MasteryMy Profile

    • Hi Victoria, yes I think one of the biggest challenges is ‘throwing it out there’ and trusting what the universe delivers, I tend to want to fret and control, when really, things are exactly as they should be. I’ve written two chapters of my book, but its simply not flowing for me! So instead of wrestling with that and feeling bad I think its time to let go and trust that it will happen when the time is right. Wishing you perfect timing on your exciting directions, you’re on the right path xxx