Nothing inspires me like being in Jamaica. The words and the stories just flow to me and through me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m relaxed and on vacation or if my heart and soul live here permanently even when I don’t. As I write this, I’m gazing out at the Caribbean Sea. When I’m finished I’ll walk down to the powdery white sand beach and swim as far out in the turquoise water as is possibly safe. I’ll meet my family for lunch and listen to the cadence of their voices as they swap stories and I’ll hear about generations of relatives I’ve never known. I’ll take an evening swim as the sun is setting and apply aloe vera from the garden to my deeply browned skin. I don’t want these moments to end. Jamaica is where I feel I belong but it’s also where I remember that the world is limitless with infinite opportunities.

A Beautiful Journey

A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe as Nobel prizewinner Dr. John Nash, is one of my favourite movies. Every time I get that dissatisfied feeling where nothing is good enough in my life, I remember two contrasting scenes from the movie: one where Dr. Nash is young, in university and struggling for acceptance and fame. A professor tells him his work is not good enough and shows him an elderly professor being honoured by his colleagues. The second, where Dr. Nash is old, having battled a lifetime of mental illness, marital ups and downs, and the uncertainties of life, and finally honoured by his colleagues. The movie reminds me that for some of us who aren’t lucky lottery winners or inheritors of a vast fortune, success comes after hard work and may even take a lifetime. I don’t want it to take a lifetime. I want my novel to be completed now. I want the big house now. But if I focus on the result, I won’t enjoy my journey. I’m good at dishing out advice, like when I’m telling my students that learning English takes time and to enjoy the journey; but when it comes to me, I want it all now. I feel a bit like the young John Nash, butting my head against a brick wall, swimming against the current. Creating stories can take time and rushing through things rarely produces anything worthwhile. When Dr. Nash does win the Nobel prize, he doesn’t talk about how he came by his great theories and how hard he worked. He looks at his wife and says, (well I can’t remember correctly but it was lovey-dovey and made me cry) ‘I love you, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you,’ etc , etc. Something like that. This journey of ours is made up of so many moments, poignant ones, sad and happy ones, moments that enrich our lives and we probably don’t think much of them at the time. If we rush through all these moments trying to get to the winning end, we forget that it’s the magnificent journey that really makes us. Not the successes.