I’m sure you’re all thinking, ‘this is supposed to be a travel blog, why does this chick insist on constantly voicing her worldly opinions?’
Well, first of all, that’s exactly what I started this blog for; as a means to voice my opinions and thoughts and secondly, I believe that all world events should be of great importance to travellers. It influences where we go, how we perceive cultures and people and how we react to them.
So, what’s next on my long list of things that have gone wrong in 2016? Well, everything. Once again, in a moment of extreme emotion earlier this week, I cancelled everything scheduled to go up on my blog and silently sulked. Yet again, it all seemed too inappropriate.
Sitting in front of the news all day, every day, really does take a heavy toll on my mind sometimes. From the minute I woke up on Wednesday, after reading that the ceasefire agreement in Aleppo had fallen through, I was a bit of a mess. Ok, a lot of a mess actually. Everything was reducing me to tears?! The news, twitter, TV, everything.
I cried at work when I saw an image of two young children strewn amongst the rubble in Syria. I cried when I was stuck in traffic on the way home. I cried whilst watching ‘Emmerdale’ when I was thinking about Ashley living with dementia. I cried throughout the whole of ‘This Time Next Year’ although I’m sure that’s the whole point of the show. I cried thinking about happy times with my grandfather who’s no longer with us. I cried at… wait for this one… a Waitrose advert, because I thought the robin featured in it was going to die. I also got teary at a car advert. Yes a CAR advert. So, as you can see I really was a proper mess.
The funny thing is, it was only a few days ago when we had our friends around that I was lecturing them all on how no matter how hard it gets, there’s always something we can do, that we should never give up and here I was wallowing in my own negativity. Go figure.
I tried finding ways to cheer myself up – wrote some angry emails to MP’s, listened to TED talks, vented my frustration on my personal Facebook page. Then I looked for comfort on my favourite blog, Flora the Explorer, which I did find in the form of an article on ‘What makes you happy?’. This made me realise that I’m not the only one searching for that feel good factor.
FYI – Flora’s a beautiful, gifted writer and she too doesn’t hold back when it comes to her opinions, and I love her for that. (If you haven’t checked her out please do so asap, preferably after reading this though 😉 )
Well, TODAY is a better, brighter day!
Want to know why?
Because last night… I went to watch Rogue One.
Yup, I booked Mo and I to go and see the latest in the Star Wars series and it was BRILLIANT. And today, I am pumped, motivated and FULL of positivity.
I’m a huge Star Wars fan so I had been looking forward to this all year. The movie brings together so many elements; feeds us the background tales in the run up to Episode IV, and is all round bloody GENIUS… not to mention emotional. I’m not going to go into it in too much detail, as I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t yet watched it (please feel free to comment, message, tweet me if you would like to discuss the in’s and out’s of this EPIC movie, I am more than happy to do so).
It didn’t just cheer me up because I’m a super fan and even just hearing Darth Vader sends actual chills down my spine. But, as I watched the scenes unfold I couldn’t help but think that this fantasy, intergalactic war is not so dissimilar to our own Earthly struggles. The dark side moving into power, doing everything they can to control the world empire, entire nations being wiped out just because they can be – it was uncanny.
So what am I worried about? Yes, there are many, many atrocities happening all over the world. Every minute of every day. If it’s not Aleppo it’s the suffering of the Rohingya, it’s Gaza, Sudan, Mexico, Ukraine – the list is pretty endless.
But Rogue One has taught me to face this fear, because amongst us all there is, you guessed it, the rebellion.
People like me and hopefully you who don’t believe in conflict, in evil and want to do everything in our power to try and help, in the words of Van Gogh, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
And it’s these small things, which will one day save the world from all this unnecessary drama. That’s what I’ve been telling myself for years and it was something I briefly lost sight of this week.
I started this month with a project inspired by “Knit Aid,” an event my sister told me about where people got together to knit snoods and warm accessories to distribute to refugees in need. I spoke to Shahnaz and Karen, the inspirational ladies behind the concept and asked permission to carry on their venture, but instead to create pieces for the homeless men and women sleeping rough this winter around Manchester.
I shared the idea with colleagues in work and within a few days already had a pile of snoods ready to go! Not just that, 20 balls of wool disappeared by the end of week one, with everyone pitching in to have a go, most of them had never even knitted before. I was quite overwhelmed by the eagerness of people to help. And it really confirmed my ‘little by little we can change things’ ethos. Since then, Mo and I hosted a ‘Knit and Knatter’ day at our house for friends and I’ve managed to get together a decent sized batch of goodies ready to give to the shelter.
A number of (good) newspapers have also published articles over the last few days, listing ways we can get involved to help and it’s nice to see people I know, spreading the word and sharing them, encouraging friends and family to help:
5 Things you can do to help Aleppo
11 Practical things you can do to help homeless people in Manchester
Personally, I’ve been shying away massively from the large corporate aid agencies as there has been a large rise in grass roots organisations, which I am proud enough to have friends who have either started or are heavily involved in – organisations where I know each and every penny, goes towards helping those in need and isn’t lost in bulk marketing or advertising. Instead, they rely on word of mouth and the generosity of time and effort from good people.
Personally, I’m determined not to stop. I have made an oath to myself to always ensure I am doing what little I can to contribute to the wider world, hopefully increase it more and more to make it to something big one day. Because without sounding like a soppy get, if we all start to think we can do it, we will do it!
Like my good friend Jyn Erso says:
“We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope.”
It worked for the galaxy and it can work for us!
Right friends, it’s time to go back to feeling positive, back to travelling and spreading happiness, breaking boundaries and stereotypes.
and more importantly…