Two weeks from now I will be on a plane bound for Buenos Aires. I will have turned in my work laptop, stuffed my things into a box, and said goodbye to my job of seven and a half years.
I will have packed some clothes and gadgets into a couple bags, checked for my passport and ID, and hugged Sarah for uncounted breathless moments before kissing her goodbye.
I will have ventured into a foreign expanse, a crisp opening chapter waiting for the tread of my feet to pound out new stories.
Yet in these final days before travel I struggle to be completely present. Already, I feel the beginnings of dissociation from daily life, my mind drifting into the future, as if my looming departure date has caught me in some kind of temporal whirlpool. It is a full-on out-of-body experience: I am quitting a well-paying job and leaving my wife for a month to travel, the first of many such months. I am not being laid-off nor are we broke. I’m simply walking away from it, from the known, from stability. If you woke me up and told me it was all a dream I’d think it was a crazy dream.
And maybe dreams are crazy when you start making them real.
“Crazy,” in this sense, is codespeak for “scary.” A recent interviewer asked me if I had any fears about this plan. Yes, absolutely, undoubtedly. Fear crowds around me with the slightest wavering of purpose. It’s scary to realize I have the power to change an unhappy situation. It’s scary to give up the cultural norm. It’s scary to gamble on my life.
I could spend these last few days lost to fears and anxiety, vainly trying to divine the future. Will I overcome the separation anxiety and find my footing? Will I be able to hack the language and communicate well enough to capture stories? Will Sarah be able to stoically make it through the month on her own? Will I write anything worth reading?
That’s what I could do. But the dolorous cacophony of the lizard brain would just fill my ears.
Instead, I will revisit my manifesto and the simple motto I established on day one of Traveling Savage. Fondness. Wonder. Gratitude. I will go where the fear doesn’t want me to go.
In these final days of endings and beginnings, I will do my best to be in wonder of the people and places I have yet to see, that are waiting to be unveiled like a thousand blinking stars behind the breaking clouds.
As you can see, I’m in the grip of many emotions on the cusp of this experiential travel project. What do you notice about your own state of mind prior to travel?
Original photo by prakhar via Flickr under Creative Commons