I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I’ve done over the past 14 months, my current situation, and what I possibly want to do in the future.
I’ve seen many people my age rattling on about how they’re engaged or expecting, and how it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them. Well, I can safely say, without doubt, that I can’t think of anything worse at this point in life.
There’s nothing wrong with settling down, getting married, having kids, getting a mortgage and all that, but it really isn’t for me. Sure, I’m currently ‘settled’ in Vietnam, but it won’t be forever and I’m already trying to figure out where to go and what to do when I leave. Over the past year I’ve met many people who are in what you’d call ‘their autumn years’; people who had kids or got married young and only really started to travel or live life after their kids had flown the nest. Of course, I’m not saying that all people who’ve had kids feel this way, just the majority of older people I’ve met on my travels.
The overall feeling was that these people were now too old to do a lot of things they could’ve done just 10yrs ago; the one constant piece of advice I got was ‘do it whilst you can’, which has stuck with me when making my decisions.
One problem I had when I quit my job and first started travelling was the question of money. ‘What do I do when my money runs out? Do I sulk off back home? Do I find a job?’ Well, the easy thing would’ve been to go back home with my tail between my legs, start searching for a job, perhaps to save up more money, then go travelling again. But, as I soon found out, the option of finding a job abroad seemed easier and more adventurous, especially after talking to people who’d either done it, or just people (often older) who were encouraging me to throw caution to the wind, a kind of ‘you’re young and only live once’ kind of attitude. The thing is, you don’t even have to find a job as such, there are ways of volunteering in exchange for food and accommodation all over the world.
Travelling doesn’t have to mean constant change either. I spent 10 months moving around from city to city, country to country before landing in Vietnam. Travelling can mean spending several months in one place, becoming entwined in the culture before moving on elsewhere. There are people who do this, and I’ve found that it’s inspiring and helpful when making plans. I suppose the only downside to this, as a friend recently reminded me, is that you make temporary friends; people who you’ll probably only know for a year before leaving behind.
Another issue, perhaps for others rather than for myself, is Diabetes. Often, people I meet seem to wonder how I manage to travel whilst ‘suffering’ from Diabetes. Sadly, non-Diabetics, as with a lot of actual Diabetics, see long term travel with Diabetes to be out of bounds; too much of a worry, too many factors to think about, too dangerous if things go wrong. Well, this is bulls**t. In over a year I’ve had one or two minor instances where Diabetes has reared its ugly head, but other than that it’s been a walk in the park. I’ve seen people travelling in wheelchairs, people travelling with limbs missing, blind people travelling with canes; in most circumstances there really isn’t anything holding you back; you just have to take that first step.
What am I getting at? Well, I want more. I’m not content living in Vietnam. This is not it.
I want to travel more. I want to wander through humid rain forests. I want to conquer some of the world’s highest peaks and be dazzled by neon lights. I want to sample the finest cuisine in the finest restaurants, and stuff my face with heaps of the grimiest street food in town. I want to scuba dive in the most colourful waters, and free-fall from 12,000ft. Sure, some of these things I may never do, but some of it will happen.
I want more from life than big TV’s, fancy clothes and new phones. Don’t get me wrong, I love to sometimes pig out in front of the TV (or laptop) with a good movie, but it’s not what life’s about. I don’t want to wake up in my 50’s and realise that it’s too late, none of it ever happened, and none of it ever will.
I want more…