I was thinking the other day about what I’d learnt from all the travelling I’ve done in my life so far.
It would be self-confirming and pleasing to consider it all worthwhile and that something positive has come out of it. But as ever complexity reigns and when I look at the end-product, perhaps I should’ve stayed at home under the covers.
I could’ve left it all to Michael Palin and that American one, Bill. All that hot sun, those heavy rucksacks , dirty youth hostels and mucky ‘drinking’ water takes its toll and I found that one day I just got tired of moving around.
Where’s the romance in that? I can retort that there was romance in it, alas there was also heartbreak and boredom. So the question begs to be answered, in the immortal words of Freddy Mercury ‘Was it all worth it?’
Well, with heavy sigh I’d have to say yes and begrudgingly concede that I’ve generally had a good time. Sometimes it just needs a while to digest. My wanderings have been like a seven-course meal, washed down with copious amounts of booze…
For some ‘enjoying youself’ is wrong, It’s to be bundled up with other nasty concepts such as sin and sold to the unwashed to keep them in order. It’ll all be read out on judgement day and if you score badly, you won’t get to Nirvana, Utopia or Paradise City; they’ll shove a one-way ticket to Hull into your hand instead.
Right now I find myself typing this on my ancient laptop in Lyon, France. However I have no roots here and no real hard-fact based reasons to live here. Simply put, for the moment it suits me, but I couldn’t say if I’d be here in 10 years time. I might not even be alive in 10 years time.
Looking back too much over your shoulder can be as perilous as jumping off high waterfalls. It’s best not to peer into the abyss for too long, you’re better off just taking the plunge. You’re going to get wet anyhow but you probably won’t drown.-
Personally, I’m not even one of those back-packing die-hards who are just itching to sleep rough, hang around dusty Middle-Eastern train stations and get bitten by midges.
Certainly, I’ve experienced many diverse sights, sounds and smells, I’ve met some lovely people and I’ve met some buggers too. When I try and analyse how I’ve come to follow the road I’m on, it seems it’s more down to pure coincidence and incidental events rather than planning. There are so many random factors that come into the equation that there doesn’t seem to be much point in forecasting what’s going to happen.
Why would a fairly shy young man from East Yorkshire with average intelligence and no particular goals in life find himself ping-ponging around, uprooting and re-locating until he landed up in this French city, still wondering what twists and turns are lying around the corner?
Maybe it was the ‘lack of goals’ bit. Answered my own rhetoric question there.
It wasn’t always going to turn out like this. My friends at the Golf Club in Brandesburton couldn’t understand why I went off to travel and ultimately live abroad. One of them memorably told me that I should ‘get a car and a job and come out drinking with me on Friday nights’. That was the limit of his horizon, he wouldn’t ever step outside his comfort zone. Hopefully he’s happy with his lot, I’m content with mine.
Perhaps we’ve been conditioned to believe that we need stability and securuty in our lives and careers. There’s this socially acceptable path that, if you follow, then everyone else in the street will view you as normal and healthy. Marriage, kids & mortgage… suburban bliss.
Some people believe that our lives are pre-determined, mapped-out and that no matter what you do, it’s all destiny and so we’ll end up where it was pre-ordained anyhow. Where’s the fun in that? With that in mind I’ve always tried to double-guess fate and surprize it at every turn. When a seemingly obvious and naturally smart decision is staring me in the face, I’ll brush past it and select the fool’s gold instead. If someone thinks I’m a nice guy then I’ll generally do something to make them reconsider their opinion.
After a while, fate should give up and label me a lost cause. That’s fine by me as I gave up on fate long ago. Which leads me to that famed expression ‘Don’t worry, everything will work out in the end’. Will it? How do you know? Have you been to the end?
But surely not knowing is the beauty of life; as long as we’re free to do whatever we want, and then do it to the best of our ability, then I reckon it’s all worth it anyway.