Seems like yesterday, the day I drew curious, pitying glances on the Gatwick
commuter train. In a crowd of suits, I was the sobbing mess of bed hair in the bright hoody, struggling under a backpack the size of my body.
I had hoped the early train would be empty, but far too many people witnessed the grotesque amounts of snot I left on Harry’s clothes as we said our goodbyes on the platform. Yes, displays of emotion are awkward at 6am surrounded by strangers. But it was unavoidable; after a year and a half of living, working and travelling in each other’s pockets, it was time to say goodbye.
We’d known this would happen for the past year, not that that made it any easier. Harry was always going to go back and do another season, and I was always not. Its just the way it was, and we never felt it right to push or guilt-trip the other into not chasing their passions. How could we? That’s not love.
Love is encouraging someone to do that which makes them happy, even if it ends up screwing you over. Love is accepting and supporting someone’s chosen path, not trying to change it. Love is building someone up to fulfil their dreams, not engulfing them in guilt for doing so.
But oh, it would have been so easy to go back to France with Harry for another ski season, and of course I was tempted. Aside from the obvious fact that I would be spending everyday with someone I love, there was also the temptation of a guaranteed job, existing friends, and the comfort, ease and security of doing something I know well.
But…What good is it to coast through life, blown from easy option to easy option?
What good is it to just tag onto someone else’s dreams when you have your own? To live a life shackled to the prison walls of your comfort zone?
Do I wish to look back when I’m old and grey and see a life full of regret and what ifs? To want to tell my grandchildren exciting stories, but see behind me only an expanse of comfort zone, of unfulfilled promise, of untaken chances?
No. No I do not.
You get one shot at life. So, alone or not, you have to take leaps. And those of us that our physically, politically and economically able to do so, have no excuse whatsoever.
Take control of your life. It’s yours.
No one’s going to do it for you, and no one’s going to care when you don’t. It is literally down to you, and you alone, to grab life and make it how you want it. Ignore the nay-sayers, what do they matter? They are a dime a dozen. Don’t share their regrets. The only certainty is that we die, and until that day, we must make everything happen for ourselves.
So I did, and I am, and I will continue to do so. I finally chased something I’ve wanted all my adult life, ever since I first went backpacking 7 years ago. I decided to just go. To move to Australia with no plans of return. Plans for Asia, New Zealand, Canada..anywhere that will have me, Yes. Plans to have no plans, yes.
Freedom so reckless, it is utterly intoxicating.
Of course, I’m thrust painfully outside my comfort zone. The person I love most, my best friend, is on the other side of the world, and I’m alone in a foreign country with limited funds and no idea what’s next. Am I insane? Quite possibly. But I feel my twenties slipping through my fingers, and I have to do these things, take these risks. For what could be worse, than to squander one’s youth? You won’t get another, not ever.
So I urge you, whatever it is, quit waiting and start doing.
Just go it alone. Stop waiting for someone to come along that you can travel with, just go travelling and find them instead. You are your best resource, and when you’re forced to be resourceful, you will be. When it’s sink or swim, you will swim. When you’re alone, you will make friends.
Why? Because you have to. It’s that simple.
Ultimately, we each of us must walk our own path; if we are lucky enough to have someone to walk with us for a while, then wow, what a blessing, but we shouldn’t be afraid to walk alone.
If we are afraid, then we run the very real risk of never really fulfilling those things dear to us… we will let the lure of the comfort zone can ruin us, the fear of loneliness rob us.
Instead, take control.
And now that the ideological context for my escapades has been set in the truest of rambling styles, I can commence storytelling…
As a fellow wanderer, (although nowhere near as well-travelled as your globe-trotting self) I’m enjoying your posts immensely. Not sure if you’d be interested, but I read a book a few years ago and your blog posts have distinctly reminded me of it. It’s called ‘Sideways’, by a guy named Patrick O’Neil, who as far as I can gather, is pretty much a male version of you. Not sure why, but a little voice told me to tell you about the book, so here I am! I think you might enjoy it.
p.s. The voice in the above entry is awesome. Write more like this!
p.p.s. One ‘e’ in ‘Fremantle’!
Thanks for the wicked feedback Dave! I will certainly look into the book, cheers for that!