As I look back at all that I’ve learned, all of the wondrous & inspiring places I’ve been, all the beautiful faces & kindred souls I’ve met, and how much I have grown as a human being, I can’t help but feel immensely satisfied with life. My journey has thus far only been possible because of an overwhelming sense of curiosity and a no-tomorrow kind of attitude only youth could possess. A no-regrets, no-holds-barred kind of life that zen buddhists and anarchists alike would admire. It doesn’t have to be a 2 + 2 =4 kind of life, when you know you like 2, and damn it, you’re going for 2 no matter the consequences.
I used to think, What would Jack Kerouac do? for longer than I’d like to admit. For surely, he would have just up and gone. Like that Doors song: “I used to have money, now I have none… But I’ve never been so broke that I couldn’t leave town.” And love Kerouac’s novels as I do, I slowly realized that I didn’t want to be like him. A washed-up, sloppily drunk, socially awkward outsider who still lived (and was in love) with his mother at age 36 didn’t really appeal to me. He had deceived me with his own legend of duluoz, damn it. Just like Hunter S. Thompson, Neal Cassady, Jim Morrison, and a slew of other rockstar types that end up on Dr. Drew’s “Celebrity Rehab”. It’s a lifestyle that one creates and can’t live up to. Half of it is false pretense, and half of it just has a big fat expiration date on it. So what am I getting at?
It can only last so long. I spent my twenties jumping plane to bus to taxi to train, spending all of my savings as frugally as possible to make it last- to make the trip (the travel, the reality-escape, the jonesing, the culture high, the art kick, the language love affair) last as long as it could. I squeezed the shit out of my pennies and was usually gone out of the country for at least 2 months. Stayed in the scroungiest hostels where the beds undoubtedly had bugs and the bathrooms’ pungent smell was almost palatable. Ate the fixed menus, day in and day out. And was it worth it? Hell yes.
But when it was over, I’d come back with my metaphorical tail dragging between my legs, eyes to the ground- because at least the asphalt looked the same on this side of the equator- and know I had to start all over. After such a continual blossoming high, it was a deluge of an overwhelming low. That was the worst feeling in the world- being back. All of the adventure had been used up, and now it was time to file those memories along with pictures of the past. Start all over again. Find a job. Live with the folks. Sleep on couches. See what the local goodwill had to offer in terms of work clothes. Speak English again- the facility of communication seemed wrong: How can it be so easy to know what others are saying?
…And I’d get everything in order again, get my job, my apartment, my temporary life. And do it again. I’ve got the itchy feet. Three years after not having been out of the country, and my feet are going out of their so-called mind with conflagrations of itchiness all over; I could scratch till I bleed, I’ve got it so bad. While I change my outlook on sustainability & responsibility, however, I also have to change my mode of operandi. I can’t handle the ups and downs anymore, can’t handle not having the means and having such a dubious future. It’s not the unknown, the uncertainty- I still thrive on those things. I just want to know that I won’t want to shoot myself in the foot when I get back; I want to be able to support myself through and through. Hence my search for viable employment that allows me to travel and get paid for it. Go figure.
Overall, I have no regrets for the past. There is only gratitude that I made those decisions, full of abandon & longing to be on the go, while I did. And gratitude that I have finally (yes, finally!) come to the conclusion that I need to act like a grown-up. Well, sort of.