Oh so quietly feeling dispirited, despair, discomfort, gloom, melancholy, sorrow, trouble, worry, misery, heartache, fear and dejection. So quietly that others can’t hear.

Living a life expected of you to live. Living someone else’s life. Living a life by the full constraints of society. Living in your own self imposed limitation everyday, and not completely living. Half-dead.

I felt that way when I was 31 years old. I had felt that way most of my life to that point. Something was missing and I didn’t understand what or why. At that age, I had already lived in two foreign countries; I’d tried so many different things to shake it up, nothing worked.

I decided to buy an around the world ticket to “find myself” and make changes so I’d “be happy” – a cliché but very effective intention. I didn’t know what would happen. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that it had to happen, because I couldn’t live in those feelings anymore. I was determined to keep going until they changed.

I was travelling with a most amazing man named Manu, so full of life, energy and joy. Beautiful heart, such a warm smile. Only twenty-four. He was ticking off his bucket list, whilst travelling the world. I still remember his laugh and I still remember him singing father and a son over dinner one night, such a sweet voice.

One night, after travelling with him for six weeks, we put him on a bus in the north of Brazil, so he could head to his next bucket list destination. We found out the next morning that this bus had been in a terrible accident. It took another excruciating five hours to find out that he had died along with all the other adults and children. The surreal feeling from the heat of the sun on my skin, hearing people play a game of ball, laughing, talking happily next to the pain of loss and despair, is beyond anything I could begin to explain. How could someone so young, so full of life be gone? Gone where? How does the world keep turning, when mine has stopped? Here I was playing life at thirty per cent, him at a hundred. How can he be gone? Surely he deserved so much more than I?

It disrupted my life. I no longer use the word ‘devastated’ because devastation is what I felt when Manu died. I had used the word too freely and for small insignificant things. It’s been over ten years. The impact of his life collided with mine in such a way that I gained his love of life, his way of living and in many aspects, his way of being more open.

Although there are times that I have to remind myself to stay open armed to the world, I can’t imagine going back to the quiet feelings of desperation. Somehow I put myself on that path to experience feeling alive on the open road and the tragic death of a young gregarious friend. My intention was to make changes so I’d be happy and there is enormous power in setting your intention. I live my life now in honour of his way of life. I don’t believe you have to go through what I did to live more fully but there is a fundamental question to ask yourself. What do you really want in life? Then set the intention.