Bus Thoughts

So, I’ve had this entry up my sleeve for a while now. More than 4 months to be precise. I’m not entirely sure why I refused to post it at the time, perhaps because of its personal nature, perhaps for fear of endangering the conclusions I reached at the end of it’s writing. For whatever reason it never made it up here. However I’ve recently been feeling very similar to the idle wonderings that led to its creation and it seems strangely appropriate once more. I’ve found that reading it back to myself has buoyed my current melancholy somewhat and finally having it up will perhaps make it more concrete. So yeah, here’s a terrifying glimpse into la tete de Rik. Enjoy…

I tell you what, my iPod shuffle mode is on a roll at the moment. It’s playing me a cautiously upbeat yet temperamentally melancholic selection of tunes that perfectly mirrors my current mood; one of tentative elation jumbled in with an undirected sense of loneliness. The later probably stems from my situation over the last 9 hours, that is, stuck on a bus winding its way down the East coast of the United States. It does give one time to consider their current situation, I’ll give it that.

So yes. Today’s review of my American experience, and of course my ongoing assessment of the decision that led to it, is one of hesitant approval. As a warning, from here on in this may be going slightly deeper than my usual posts, something I suspect will only be of any real interest to myself, so do feel free to skip this one.

I’ve been thinking a lot about perception, or at least my own perception of the internal and external and how they differ. I’ve known for a while I tend to skew in favour of the latter in terms of positivity, ie I’m more likely to look on someone or something other than myself in positive terms. This is currently manifesting itself in the fact I can’t seem to escape the nagging doubt I’ve made a mistake, quitting my job and all. It’s left me in a tenuous position career-wise, and so far I’ve spent an awful lot more than I intended (although this seems to be under control now). But when I think of other people I’ve encountered in the same position I can’t help but admire them. They could be stranded thousands of miles from home with nary a dollar to their name having spent the lot on hookers and booze, but something would seem far more glamorous about them and their caution-to-the-wind attitude. This is despite it being, for all intents and purposes the same as mine.

A lot has to do with self confidence, something I’ve always had a rocky relationship with. On one hand, stick me in a group of people in a social setting and I’m happy as a particularly large clam. On the other, if I’m asked to approach the same group as an external I’m completely lost. The what-ifs take over and I find myself making all the excuses in the world not the disturb them. I imagine they’re happy as they are, and that adding myself to the equation could only dilute the mix. It’s an odd impulse, one I recognise as absurd, but also one I’m seemingly powerless against. I tend to apply the same rules to pretty much every aspect of my life; other people are doing things better than I am, regardless of the context. This has led to the clawing doubt I now feel.

My time on the bus has helped somewhat with the guilt and uncertainty about my current situation however. Maybe guilt is the wrong word…guilt implies a sense of wrongdoing which certainly isn’t present here. Regret is too strong a word, remorse too dramatic. Let’s just leave it at uncertainty. Anyway, what I came to realise, while listening to Phil Collins no less, is that what I’m doing is amazing. Very few people can say they’ve done what I’m currently doing: travelling around the world on my own, with no set plans and no backups. I remember Mum telling me about Gran doing similar things later in her life, and being amazed that anyone could set off into the greater world on their own. And yet here I am.

I’m not claiming to be doing something unique. Although most people will never do what I’m doing, some will. Some will be more extreme in their independence, some will turn travelling into a living. Some will never stop. But I’ve decided to halt the downplaying of my decision (I should probably start capitalising that). Will it hurt my career prospects? Maybe. WIll it leave me impoverished and desperate on my return? Again, maybe (although I hope not). What I’ve realised is that I can’t worry about this now, lest I curse the whole endeavour from the off. What’s that old saying, it’s not the destination but the journey? I sort of feel my entire life has been the search for a destination, to the detriment of the journey I’ve had along the way. For the first time ever I have no destination, nor am I trying to find one. The journey is my priority now. And I think that’s OK.

Shuffle just gave me Rihanna. Contemplation over.

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