We are leaving. Of Cats, Fireflies, And Happiness

It’s morning in the cottage, and a cold one at that. Steph is about to start her yoga workout and Willow is on a mission. She’s running from room to room, sneaking around corners, and prowling behind couches. She wants one thing, and she’s going to get it.

Willow shadows Steph into the living room. Steph discards her dressing gown and stands on the yoga mat. Willow aborts target and runs back into the kitchen as I’m stirring chai powder into a mug of hot milk.

I sit down on the couch. Target acquired. Before I know what’s happening, I hear the heavy footsteps of a determined cat before she pounces. She rises up from the floor and lands on the blanket I have laid across my lap.

This is it. She’s got me. She settles on my lap, purring. My morning… gone.

I figure this might be a good time for an update. We arrived in Tasmania in February last year for a 3 month visit. It’s now May, 15 months later, and we are still here. Steph got a good job, and I started work at Ten Lives Cat Centre. We found the cottage. But, this is not where our story ends.

If I’ve learnt anything since we started travelling in 2015, it’s that happiness is transient. It’s like trying to catch a firefly in your fist – as soon as you think you’ve caught one, you open up your palm and it’s gone. Happiness cannot be held, reached, or achieved. It’s more like a cool breeze on a summer day that you happen to find yourself walking through. It comes and goes, but it will come back again if you keep looking for it.

I will never hold a firefly in my fist, but I can watch them from a distance before the cooling night sees them disappear. Though, it may not be prudent to wait for them in that same spot, it may pay to keep searching.

With this view of happiness, one can accept the ebb and flow, and not be too hard on oneself in the moments when the tide goes out. We build the foundations as best as we can and hope that we are in the right place at the right time.

For me, that foundation is built upon eating healthily, exercising well, being a part of the community I live in, and knowing that the work I do contributes in a meaningful way. Another component is to keep learning and exploring.

This is what I must work towards to maintain my foundation of happiness, and so the fireflies may shine.

Steph and I have had to make some a tough decision. Life is good in Hobart, life is comfortable, but the winters are too much to bear, and I’ve discovered there is a whole lot more I want to learn before I settle down.

Working in the marketing department of the Cat Centre has been the most wonderful opportunity. It’s given me an insight into how rewarding a career can be. People would ask me if I’d ever return to the office after my 10 years in IT. Now my answer is yes, but there will be conditions. Cats.

I want to apply my skills to help animals in need, and I want to keep developing those skills. It’s for this reason (and the cold winters) that we have decided to leave Tasmania early next year and continue our travels.

Our loose plan is to leave in March to explore the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia while we wait for the weather to cool down. Then head up through the middle of Australia on our way to Exmouth in Western Australia. We will explore Ningaloo Reef and before summer hits, we will find somewhere new to settle down for a while.

“I don’t care what it takes. I need 6 more kittens on my desk by Friday!!”

It won’t be easy saying goodbye to all my colleagues at Ten Lives – it’s by far the best place I’ve ever worked. It’s one of those decisions that tears you a part a little. But there’s a bigger picture. I want to get more experience working with other Not-for-profit animal charities around Australia, and I hope to return to Ten Lives with that knowledge at some point.

So again, Steph, Willow, and I will be leaving our comfort zones and embarking on a journey to destination unknown. New experiences, new places, and plenty of fireflies.

* * *

Wow! I hope you are as excited as we are about our news that we are leaving Tasmania. Looking back, I really owe it to one cat in particular for sending me down this path. It gives me a cold chill to think about what life would have been like without her. Thank you, Willow.

And thank you to you, for following our adventures – whether it’s just recently, or from when we started back in 2015.

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