Monday, April 27, 2009

What I'm Leaving Behind

So I've listed what all I'm taking. Now I'll talk about what I'm leaving behind. Originally my departure was supposed to be simple. I was going to set out on my adventure with my pack and my dog. The two of us were going to explore as we had done numerous times before. But life has a way of changing the playbook without first consulting me.

First came the realization that I would be nearly overloaded with gear already and taking along even a 10 lb. bag of dogfood would be impossible. I couldn't find a way to tote the extra weight. Also, my dog (a black lab and basset hound mix) has short legs, making prolonged walks strenuous on him. More than just a few miles per day would be too much for him. I really enjoy adventuring with Rocco, the spastic little animal, but this adventure would be too much for him. Regretfully I had to make the decision to leave him behind. It breaks my heart to think about walking away from him, but I have to. I just wish that on the nights when I don't return home, that he would have a way of understanding why I left and that I would eventually return.

Next is my family and friends. A motley crew of random individuals that make up the group I enjoy associating with. Some think the idea of me going on such a trip is awesome. They wish me luck and ask how preparations are going. Some issue stern warnings of the dangers of the great outdoors or homeless people or serial killers that might make me their next victim. A couple have told me that spending that much time and money traveling and leaving my career for a year is a serious mistake. One I will come to regret later. These people, those who encourage and those who doubt, will be sorely missed when I'm abroad. My closest friends and certain family members have a way of brightening my day and turning any situation into the object of comedic relief. I will miss their amusing antics most of all while walking alone.

Last but certainly not least is my girlfriend. I enjoyed her company from the time we first met but we were both too wrapped up with writing projects to spend any real time together. Over the next year, we grew closer, but I had already made my decision to spend a year traveling. Starting a relationship made absolutely no sense at all. But decisions aren't always ours to make. The more I tried to avoid liking her, the more I found myself spending time with her until finally, a little over a year after we first met, I found myself dating again. Now, nearly six months into our relationship, I'm beginning to see my departure date looming on the horizon. Something that was previously an opportunity of hope and change, seems to be transfigured into something altogether worrisome. I knew I would have to make sacrifices to take this trip; I just didn't think this would be one I would have to make. I started a relationship that I knew would have an expiration date. It will be with a heavy heart indeed that I take those first steps in September.

So that is what I will be leaving behind. In addition to those individuals will be a couple boxes of personal items that I cannot replace. Everything else will be sold or donated or trashed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

"I Wish I Could Do That"

"I wish I had the balls to do that."

That's what a friend recently said when he heard about my trip. My jaw nearly hit the floor. When talking about having the nerve to do something, mustering the courage, there's no way this guy in particular should be looking up to me. He's a cage fighter. Seriously. He participates in Mixed Martial Arts fights. So how does he not have the balls to take an extended vacation?

The answer is simple. It's unconventional and unknown. Taking a trip is easy if we have reservations at a motel beforehand. If we know where we're going, getting there is easier. It's somehow safer. We know what to expect and we think we can prepare for it.

But if we are going on a trip where there is no destination, where we don't know beforehand where we will sleep each night or how far we will travel each day, then the entire ordeal is clouded in uncertainty. What will we eat. Where will we sleep? What if it rains? What if it gets hot? Cold? Hurricane? Lions and tigers and bears? Oh my!

The mind has a difficult time coming up with plans and solutions to deal with the endless possibilities for disaster and the trip suddenly seams impossible. But those millions of things that can go wrong don't always go wrong and they certainly don't all go wrong at once.

Sure, it'll start raining while I'm traveling. And I'll deal with that when it happens. If it gets cold, I'll deal with that also.

Why do we tell ourselves that we can't do something? Why do we tell ourselves that we shouldn't even try? Instead of making an attempt, we resign ourselves to inactivity for fear of the potential failure or shortcoming. And when it's all said and done, we have failed ourselves without even trying.