i’m sitting here in the london airport, 4 hours early for my connecting flight to new york, coming from scotland this morning. my trip as it stands in this segment, is effectively done. i am leaving the continent that i began this soul search on, where i began to learn so much about myself, and the way the real world actually is when it’s not being experienced from behind a desk and a salary. i’m leaving, and i’m not entirely sure why, or if i’ve even accomplished anything at all. i know that i achieved the simple, surface level goals that i had set for myself before i set out. ultimately meaningless goals like time (i wanted to make it 2 months of wandering before coming back – i assumed i wouldn’t even make it that long. when all is said and done, i’ll have been just a week shy of 5 months) abroad and an idea that i could land somewhere without a plan and survive, these things seemed like big challenges to conquer at the time, but now in retrospect they seem so… sophomoric. and this is only because they stand in the shadow of the greater, looming challenge of “what next?”
i’ve been self-indulgently telling my own story for 5 months now, basically when i first set foot on this path, initially not knowing exactly why i wanted to tell my own story for any reason other than self-documentation. so that i could have a time capsule that i could look back to someday later in my life and remember this one incredible, beautiful, outrageous, dangerous, chaotic, colorful thing that i did with my life that prevented it from being a total waste. so that i could see and know exactly the lessons i learned and grew from and not forget them. the writing gave me purpose, and it became the only stable thing in my life. while everything about my life was scrambled into a mess of vagabonding and wandering, itinerary-less adventuring and an existence devoid of accountability and responsibility, i formed a routine with the writing, giving myself deadlines and outlining topics and ideas and coining my own terms and saving them for later use in future posts. i generated motivation by telling myself that “my readers need something new,” and that if i didn’t get something out there regularly, people would stop reading. the obvious irony here is that i didn’t have any readers, other than my mom (hi mom. thanks for reading). i wanted to feel like what i was doing was important, even if it wasn’t really helping anybody other than myself, so i constructed an imaginary world around my travels and worked as hard as i could to play into the fantasy. things that brought me down or discouraged me, i ignored. i remember eagerly checking my site statistics to see how many hits i had gotten on my first few posts, and being disappointed at how minuscule the traffic i was getting. so i stopped checking (now my traffic has grown to a modest 1,000 hits per month, and i’ve done nothing to advertise or monetize it other than just post weekly updates on my personal facebook wall. thanks to you all for sharing the posts with your facebook friends. it really is flattering and greatly appreciated. please keep doing it!). i only focused on things i could actually do something about, which was traveling and writing. so i traveled more and i wrote more. i got criticized by “friends” on my own facebook and nstagram posts, so i removed those people from my contacts and my life, trying to prevent their negativity from poisoning my desire to create. the writing became the gasoline in the engine, and i did almost anything i could to protect that.
and explore, i did. while the blog content is about 2 months slower than reality, if you follow my instagram handle, (wePhilistines) you’ve seen what i’ve been doing.
i’ve been wandering. truly. just enjoying the peace of mind of having no ultimate destination and no definite purpose or itinerary. a friend i made on this journey asked me a few weeks ago “so what are you going to do once you’re done? you’ve had like 5 months to think about it.” to which i replied, “i’ve had 5 months to not think about it.”
and now, here i sit. in an airport waiting to return home, writing a very tarantino-esque-out-of-order ending to a story that i hope hasn’t ended. i still have over 2 months and 10 countries more to cover on this blog (so don’t worry, i still have lots of stories to share), but i am now stuck in a weird, parallel purgatory where i’m retelling the past, looking blankly into the future, and standing paralyzed in the present. one foot forward and one foot back, i don’t know where I’m supposed to be at the moment, or where i’m going, and i know i can’t live in the past. i’m not sure exactly how i’ve changed, other than the obvious things like having a beard longer than it’s ever been and a newfound ability to sleep anywhere. but somehow i know that i’ve changed.
i’m not the same. in ways i can’t clearly define yet, i have noticed that i don’t talk to people the same way anymore. i don’t look at the world with the same cynicism i used to (i’m still cynical, just a less negatively dismissive version of it). i’m more curious about the world. i don’t endeavor to prove something to it like i used to, and now i’m more content to just be in it. i don’t have an intention to impress people any longer, a desire to control others’ opinions or regard of me by showing them how interesting or accomplished or knowledgeable i am, and instead i am now confident to just sit back and take things as they come, (relatively) free from worry about being viewed as attractive or talented or desirable.
and therein lies the crux of my fears. in the midst of the metamorphosis, amidst all these positive things i’ve begun to learn and develop in, i am now stepping onto a plane to take me back to everything i left behind, everything i ran away from. some people are happy when they return from a long journey, happy to see the people they’ve missed, happy to eat the food they’re used to, happy to sleep in their own beds, and happy to return to the life they put on pause when they stepped away. i can’t say that i’m exactly “happy” to return to the life i left behind. to be sure, i’m looking forward to seeing all my friends and family whom i’ve missed dearly, and i’m looking forward to sleeping in my bed, and i’m REALLY looking forward to having some new york pepperoni pizza when i step off that plane for a short visit to the city (sorry, but nobody makes it as good as new york. and it’s not even close), but i’m scared of falling back into the rhythm of complacency and materialism and safety that had taken control of my life. i’m scared of falling into the same bad habits that got me into that rut, i’m scared of living an unremarkable and risk-free monotonous life, and i’m okay with admitting to myself that i don’t know exactly what’s going to happen when i get back.
but i do have ideas and hopes. they are longer term ideas and shorter term solutions, with a few world-weary wisdoms to keep me at least semi-confident that i can survive just about anything that life can throw at me now. much of that involves creating. creating music and creating videos and getting better at photography and writing. always writing, never stopping. i refuse to ever allow my creative muscles atrophy again the way i did before i took this trip. so don’t worry friends, the story lines continue, though the timeliness may be off. i will continue writing and capturing, creating and sharing, and i will keep you informed of all of it. i’ll be back home in denver next week, if you’d like to get a coffee or go snowboarding or just walk around the park and hang out, just reach out. I know the key to preserving these new perspectives i’ve gained is to remain open, waiting for the world to extend itself, and for me to respond in kind.
i’ll pick up the story next week where we left off in austria, headed for breathtaking switzerland, where i met some people with amazing life stories, and even found myself guiding a little expedition of other tourists into the wilderness surrounding the matterhorn. i think you’ll enjoy it. i also promised another playlist to you guys which i did not post last weekend because i was wandering the scottish highlands and did not have a reliable wifi signal. so i will post that this weekend with a brief write-up of the songs. i think you’ll enjoy it as well.
for today’s musical magic i have a song i’ve been saving for… well basically since the trip started. i don’t know what it is specifically, but this song by australian duo “luluc” gives me a peace that i can’t quite describe, and given the subject matter of today’s post, it’s a peace that is desperately needed. the title “winter is passing” has a special significance for me, considering the season of life i am in at the moment, so i find it very a-propos. the entire album, “passerby” is fantastic, and full of subdued delicate beauty that you can leave on for hours on repeat without getting tired. i suggest a spin or two. enjoy…