The month 8 marker is around the corner and I’ve just restarted the backpacking route after taking 3 weeks ‘off’ in South Africa and Australia. Now here I am, on the eve of my departure to Malaysia, and I find myself asking why the hell am I doing this to myself.
Maybe this post is inspired by the melancholic mood I’m in. Maybe I’m a little homesick. Hell, I don’t even know where home is anymore. Maybe I’m just full of shit and should have said no instead of yes to that last gin and tonic.
Whilst my 2 reasons for going back to South Africa was to ensure that Frank was still absent from my skull (and he is, thankfully), and surprising the shit out of my sister for her 30th (granny), I spent a great deal of time catching up with my family and friends. Seven months isn’t really that long a time in the greater scheme of things but from a personal point of view, it may as well have been a lifetime. Yet, when sitting on the other end of a table from some of your nearest and dearest, I realized just how much I missed them.
It’s not the big things you miss. I don’t really miss my house or car. The things I really miss are discussing business plans with Japes, planning trips with Bianca and Jon, klapping a bottle of wine with Noelene, Wednesday braai nights, the Dinks and my spastic brother and sister just to mention a few.
Then there’s Australia- home to the worlds coolest Beagle, some of my closest mates and Brad.
Needless to say, I had a fantastic 3 weeks ‘break’- yes, yes: I’ve been having a break for 8 months. Sit back down- you know what I mean.
So here I am, asking what I’m sure many fellow travelers have asked themselves: why the hell am I doing this, knowing you are leaving behind (albeit temporarily) the people you are most happy to be around?
The answer really is a clear one but it’s a head versus heart one- the worst types of problems.
The world is amazing. It fascinates me and I have a need to see it. Fundamentally, I feel this yearning to explore the planet as if the desire was hardcoded into my DNA. Different cities and countries, regardless of how amazing or crap they are, call my name to visit and the people and experiences I encounter there blow my mind at the best of times.
It’s funny how merely typing this blogpost adds a great deal of context to the way I’m feeling:
It’s a good thing to miss people. It means they’re important and it means you’re important to them.
It’s also fine to miss your stuff. I went past my storage unit whilst back in Johannesburg and shed a tear over my gin collection that hasn’t seen the light of day in months. I had to have a bottle of it just to console myself!
This trip is also probably one of the best and rarest opportunities of my life to meet a number of really interesting, similar people. Hell, I’ve met so many great people already- it’s great (excuse me sounding like Donald Trump, but it’s true. Trust me, really) 🙂
The harsh reality is also the fact that all good things come to an end. There will be a time when this trip comes to an end and I’ll slot straight back into life as I knew it.
In many respects, long term traveling is like escaping to a parallel universe: you know you’re part of another world, yet you’re existing in a completely foreign world, totally different to the one you know and are comfortable with.
So here I am, coming to the following realization:
It’s good to ask yourself every now and then why the hell you’re living out of a backpack, sleeping in hostels and eating fried rice. It’s also good to miss the ones you love and miss your life back home.
Why? Well, these are your reminders of that alternate universe. They make you realize that what you have is really important, that it means something to you on a fundamental level and that it will be there and waiting for you when this thing comes to an end.