Happiness is not something ready made

This was my happy place when I was living in China. Just 10 minutes from home I could escape here when I needed space.

Surrounded by nature I could almost convince myself that I was in the middle of a forest rather than a city of 10 million people.

I usually went here to meditate but I would often sit peacefully and take in the beauty of the surroundings. I could find a calmness or at least a few minutes reprieve from the craziness of life.

In my last months in China I visited this space often. The stresses of planning an international move and living in China during a pandemic weighing on my mind.

As our move drew closer I visited as often as I could. Almost trying to commit every leaf, blade of grass and flower to memory.

One day I arrived at my happy place to find it overtaken by the gardening ayis, chatting loudly as they removed weeds. Disappointed I went in search of another place to meditate. As I walked away I wasn’t concerned, thinking to myself “I still have five more days until we leave, I’ll come back one last time to say goodbye”. However, another thought crept into my mind, “What if I don’t?”

The next day it was announced the number of arrivals into Sydney was limited in order to better manage the 14 day hotel quarantine requirements. We were booked to fly into Sydney in four days! Not wanting to leave our return to chance we booked a different flight which arrived in Adelaide (which at the time had no limits). But the flight left in two days! Two days to finish packing, give away the belongings we couldn’t take and say goodbye to friends and the place we called home for almost a decade.

I didn’t make it back to my happy place.

Nine months later I still miss my happy place.

But I’ve reflected on how life doesn’t always work out the way I have planned. I’ve learnt to work with what I’m given and make the best of it. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my happy place but it will live long in my memory. And it taught me some very important lessons in life.

风无常顺,兵无常胜。
Fēng wú chángshùn, bīng wú chángshèng.
Wind isn’t always favorable; soldiers aren’t always victorious.

幸福不是现成的,而是要靠行动创造的。
Xìngfú bú shì xiànchéng de, érshì yào kào xíngdòng chuàngzào de.
Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.

PS: Thanks to my Chinese friends who helped me find the appropriate sayings.

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