The awkward turtle

Celebrating the failings of a successful person


The Spotless Mind

Happiness is mind-boggling. Is there anyone that you know who does not strive to be happy? Entire industries have been born and flourished in the promise of providing happiness and yet I feel we are unhappier than ever. We are unhappy when we do not have everything we imagine we should.

Like many other things, Happiness has a sneaky way of stealing upon you when you are not pursuing it. I recognise these moments more and more nowadays, but here are a few that can transport me back to the point in time in which Happiness paid me a visit:

  1. Hurling myself down the jungle during a trek in Northern Thailand. We had climbed up one side of the jungle and now is was time to come down. The descent was steep and there was no path as such, just a smoother way to fall. I let the vertigo pass over me and soon realised my jungle-surfing, which was really m holding onto to one bamboo tree whilst I stretched my little legs as far as possible to the next, was not the best tactic so I was quickly forced to hash out a Plan B. Plan B was amazing; it involved me falling from the mountain height one tree at a time. It meant having to let go and trusting in gravity for splits of a second until I slammed into my next stable post. Each time I rested against the bamboo trunk I had to count myself down to let go again, a continuous battle of self-will and adrenalin. At some points we had to abseil down using bent tree branches, and there were times where I did slide down on my bum (on purpose of course).Whilst I had started the descent half-terrified by the treacherous route before me, the journey to the bottom was amazing. I was in a world of my own trusting in Nature and stretching my limits; I smiled the whole way down.
  2. Jumping from rock to rock on the quest to find a waterfall, I found my element surrounded by tributaries of water as I run against the current. I was the first one of the group to reach the top and when I arrived sweating from the trek to see a group of tourists just staring into the waterfall’s pool, I stripped and jumped in. Yes it was cold, freezing even, but as I lay back in Nature’s bathtub I was submerged into Happiness. Everything was still, even the cascade of water that came crashing down, and there was silence. I’m not sure how long it lasted as soon enough the rest of my group caught up with me and one by one they reluctantly plunged into the cold.
  3. Riding on the open road around the island of Koh Lanta. I had rented a scooter for the day encouraged by my new friend Lau. Just before we set out for the journey from our hostel I remember the concerned look on Welsh Joe’s face as I asked him how to remind me how to accelerate and break. I had ridden a scooter only once before 2 years earlier in Uruguay; it would have been a genuine Motorcycle Diaries moment had it not been for my Spanish companion holding on to me, so my riding skills were more than a little rusty. Nevertheless, after a tentative few hours during which I fluctuated between snail’s pace and speeding, I finally found my happy reward. I felt it in the warmth of the sun as I chased it up and down hill roads, I felt it in the breathlessness that stole upon me as the wind whipped around my body, and most worryingly I felt happiness in the moments when I jerked back to reality after realising my mind had drifted to where? Lau and I didn’t arrive back to the hostel until well after dark, we followed the sun all the way to its bed as we ate dinner at a restaurant on the cliff’s edge. We drunk drove, our bellies filled with laughter and Thai foods. The goddess Happiness was in full flow that day.
The open road

Lau and I stopping to fill our bikes as we embark on our amateur bike adventure

My motor skills improved vastly during that day, I may have had one tiny scrap with an offensive tree but by nightfall I was such a pro that an elderly, and possibly blind, Thai gentleman mistook me for a taxi-bike. After giving me the instructions (of which I obviously understood none of), he jumped on the back of my bike and not even his daughter could persuade him that I was in fact a tourist so she too jumped on. I decided I would play along being giddy on Happiness but I could barely start the bike with the new combined mass. He laughed hysterically when his daughter explained the mistake. I’m still laughing.

If I were to define Happiness for me, the recurring theme seems to be Freedom (from thought?). Happiness takes all forms for everyone, which underpins it as an elusive commodity. We are set to fail if we continue to attempt to purchase Happiness, it’s not for sale it just finds you.

Take a minute to think what makes you Happy, don’t be surprised if it is something as simple as your mum’s home cooking.
Share your Happiness below 🙂


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Hollow Man Returns

It only takes a day to disappear. Even when I found myself on solitary islands in the midst of the Andaman Sea, the only neighbouring land visible but ghosts on the horizon, I still did not experience that feeling of absolute tranquility, the feeling that I had disappeared. I was still connected to the world by which I define life; my family and friends back home in England, the new friends I met along the way, all combined to keep me firmly grounded to a tangible reality. It wasn’t until my last days in Thailand that I experienced the strange and oddly exhilarating sensation of not existing. I was in Bangkok passing through en route to Kanchanaburi, a city 2 hours outside of the capitol, having just touched ground after a 14 hour coach journey through the night from Krabi. I had no wifi access and I had maxed my roaming limit so my phone was rendered obsolete but for the need to keep time. I was alone in Bangkok for the first time, the previous two occasions I had been there I was in the company of my friend V. As I looked around the bustle of traffic and people pursuing life in the unrelenting heat and pollution, it dawned on me that not one soul in the world knew where I was. Not exactly. I smiled, no one could vouch for my presence since going on 17 hours now, and this was at once terrifying and liberating. Do you exist if no one knows you? Then came the guilt for the people who would be worried about me: my mum who I am certain never slept the whole time I was away. But as I could do nothing to alleviate their concerns I decided to enjoy the moment anyway basking in the freedom of nonentity.

In some respects coming back to AwkwardTurtleTales reminds me of that feeling of nonexistence. I have been hovering over half-written posts since my return and have held back each time from recommitting myself to the world. Im still retreating in observer mode, cautious to jump right back in. This post is me breaking my proverbial seal (the literal one is long gone by now), and by golly! there’s a lot of writing to be done.