The benefits of travelling for a long period of time are obvious to one and all; you spend most of your time exploring anything from ancient wonders of the world to deserted paradise islands, the sun is on your face and the wind at your back, oh and the biggest one of all…no job. These have all been detailed more times than I care to read about and written about in more detail than I care to do myself.
Seven months into a years adventure, these are the things I hadn’t anticipated I would learn out here, little nuances in this myriad of experiences that have put a smile on my face and may even have had some longer lasting, more important effects on my overall character and outlook on life…maybe.
I no longer think about love, when I think about home.
I know there is love there, and I love those there, but seven months removed I find myself living only the moment in time and space that I currently occupy. Dr Stephen Hawkins coined the term ‘model dependant realism’ in his explanation of the way we experience the cosmos, it basically stating that the universe is the way it is because that is how our senses allow us to interpret it. I feel the same way when I think of the people in my life, my friends at home will be just that when I am at home. Whilst I travel the world, these people of the world that I meet are my friends, because they are what I am experiencing in this moment. Four years ago my friends on this earth consisted only of Salfordians, living either at home or abroad, now four years later I have people I care about in all corners of the world. Beautiful people who without travel I would have never crossed paths with, people that have taught me new ways of thinking, people that have shown me a kindness seldom seen amongst strangers in England. Roxanne and David, a Dutch couple I met at the end of their own twelve months of wanderlust, taught me that there is no need to sacrifice happiness and experience in order to excel in a career at home. In Alize and Brendan I met the most painfully attractive couple that had somehow managed to avoid the vacuous, turgid personality traits of the worlds beauty school elite, and there was Ariel, a miniscule human being with a warmth and charm not befitting of one so small.
Travel has made me a man of the people, people of the world no less, how else could a 34 year old curmudgeon from Salford be showered with these treasures of the universe; my rag tag band of brothers at home is now interwoven with German screenwriters, Swiss buiders, Danish chefs and Legoland employees, Portuguese hippies, nurses, self help authors, wine makers and a plethora of others.
When I think about love, I think about now.
The art of conversation
I had never realised how on the edge of conversation I had been for most of my life, whether it be talking to the top of someones head whilst they sit entrenched in whatever screen mesmerised them at that point in time, or trying to navigate a one way exchange of people’s banal problems, watching their palms clam up and legs twitch as they wait eagerly for you to finish whatever it is they are so uninterested in. Taken out of the mundane, conversations blossom, no smartphone distractions allow for full immersion in other people. Without the monkey of normality on your back, you can take a genuine interest in people, and they in you. Where at home, people for whatever reason seem harmoniously disinterested in your experiences, over here people have an almost need to hear where you have been or how you did things.
The art of storytelling is alive and with a captive audience, and it feels great.
A perspective on importance
I’m trying to think back to what was important to me five years ago, and I’m almost coming up short. My phone, working every hour god sends to make payments on a car, cramming as much pleasure as I could into 2/7-ths of a lifetime.
That all seems so ludicrous now, as I live not knowing where in the world I will be tomorrow, with a bag of clothes on my back and a passport in my pocket. Playing in dirt with the happiest children you could ever meet, returning the smiles of little old ladies hunched over like a question marks from a lifetime spent with the weight of hard labour on their backs. My life right now is about accumulating memories I will treasure forever and not treasures I will spend frivolously.
My phone died several months ago and I honestly couldn’t be happier about it, away from wi-fi signals people travelling the world are inherently happy people. When I do return home and to whatever awaits me there, I know now that these petty problems we put on ourselves will have little to no importance in my life; if my phone breaks, I will think of that little boy in a village in northern Thailand that spent his evening with nothing more than camp fire light, a broken wooden spoon and a desire to dig a hole right through the middle of the world.
If I can be half as happy as that kid, then fuck my phone.