The Days of Wonder

by Keith Savage · 49 comments

Days of Wonder

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

Australian ImmigrationNo Gravatar November 3, 2010 at 7:25 PM

Very inspiring. Again, i am inspired by someone to continue to be a travel blogger You having a great time being a travel blogger, makes me want to be like that. Well, good luck to the next chapter of your life.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar November 3, 2010 at 7:37 PM

Thanks for reading – we shall see where it takes me.

ClaireNo Gravatar October 31, 2010 at 3:54 PM

I almost teared up a little reading this post! A very exciting time for you! What goes through my mind is a mix of trepidation, curiosity, and pure, unadulterated excitement. Looking forward to your first post from Argentina. Buen viaje!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar November 3, 2010 at 7:31 PM

Thanks Claire. I’m glad to hear that you can identify with this feeling.

lucindaNo Gravatar October 28, 2010 at 9:54 AM

Keith- You are one cool guy. Your writing keeps getting better and more interesting- and it was already quite good. I can feel the momentum picking up as the actual launch date arrives- but it’s really a culmination of so much planning, hard work, thougtfullness, and dedication to LIFE. I’m very excited for you, and inspired by what you’re doing!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 28, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Thanks Lucinda, I appreciate the compliments. I also feel the momentum increasing and I’m hoping I’ll reach some kind of zen-like plateau here before I leave. I had a great time discussing travel with you the other night.

ShalabhNo Gravatar October 28, 2010 at 9:22 AM

Oh and yes, I am sure you will come back a much better man for Sarah. πŸ™‚

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 28, 2010 at 10:43 AM


ShalabhNo Gravatar October 28, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Keith, will look forward to your posts when you are travelling. I am sure it will be a great experience. My 2 penny worth on this – uncertainity and ‘the new’ are adrenalin shooters like nothing else. After 15 months of quitting a heavily paying banking job and roaming in the Himalayas, I am yet to regret it. There have been fearful and uncertain moments but every moment of revelation and discovery has been worth more than all of the fears. All the best!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 28, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Nice to hear your story, Shalabh. Especially nice to hear that you aren’t regretting it. I’m sure I’ll feel the same way. Cheers!

Phil PaolettaNo Gravatar October 28, 2010 at 4:46 AM

I notice much of the same before a trip. It’s kind of pleasant to savor that fear though. Uncertainty can be delightful in its own way. I’m on my own trip, but I’m looking forward to yours – it’s a trip reading your thoughts! B well, Phil

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 28, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Interesting take on it, and I don’t really disagree. I suppose it’s nice to be aware of these sometimes rare feelings. Thanks a lot, Phil.

SpencerNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 11:56 PM

Hope you have a wonderful time. Its great to read about people who seize the moment and explore the world we live in. Very inspiring.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 28, 2010 at 9:48 AM

Thanks Spencer!

Jeff TiteliusNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 11:36 AM

What a fantastic story you tell about your journey into the unknown as you stand on the threshold of your dream. I too have taken risks like this and all I have to say is that it was absolutely worth it!! Yes, scary at first, stressful, anxiety-ridden and every other sense of panic you can feel, however, once you arrive and everything starts falling into place, you realize that life is worth shaking up every now and then and that the risk was worth it. I wish you nothing but success in your endeavor to achieve your dream!! And, you’re half-way there already. Good luck!!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Jeff, thanks for the nice affirmation and the well wishes. It’s incredible how many people have already done this and I’ve yet to hear a negative tale.

KevinNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 10:41 AM

That’s the one thing I really miss about a “real” job. Quitting.

It’s like jumping into cool water. Nerves, anticipation, then you’re weightless, shocked for a second… then goddamn, you could stay in there ALL day. The water’s fine! The challenge then becomes getting back out into the cold wind and returning to gravity.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Hey Kevin, who said anything about getting out into the cold wind? πŸ™‚ I hear ya though. Congratulations on hacking it as a freelancer all these years!

KevinNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 11:48 AM

True! You just need to pull your better half into the pool with you! πŸ™‚ I’m getting some crazy ideas in that regard myself… (my wife, not yours πŸ˜‰ … Interested at all in Africa next summer???

SuzyNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 10:38 AM

I can’t wait for your travels! Congratulations on doing some incredibly courageous tasks to live how you want. I always get a little fearful before a trip. For me, the hardest part is parting with family, friends and pets. However, once I am sitting at the gate, away from all I just said goodbye to, the fearful turns into nothing but excitement.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Hey Suzy, following your trip through Italy and Europe this past summer was really fun. Usually my thoughts are on the things I’ll miss while I’m sitting at the gate, but I’ll do my best to adopt your mindset. Thanks for the comment, really appreciate it.

Lauren QuinnNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 1:25 AM

Totally got vicarious travel anticipation through this. Can’t wait to read all about your adventures! (And for the record, I have no doubt that you’ll be able to find the stories.)

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 27, 2010 at 10:47 AM

Thanks Lauren, your recent trip to Italy, Montenegro, and Albania was really inspiring.

JaimeNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 9:49 PM

Oh wow this is a great post. This is how I feel and I am still 9months away. Its like as I get more and more things ready to make my DREAM happen the more I think its crazy. I think we are being honest to ourselves cus when you think about it what we are doing is CRAZY. The good thing though it is CRAZY but POSSIBLE and we are making it happy. Congrats on making it this far you will be on the road soon.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Hey Jaime. It’s only crazy (and it is) because it’s not the norm. Too often calling something crazy is enough to kill the notion. I’m thankful that this flame of an idea has grown into a blaze.

Nomadic ChickNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 9:08 PM

Moving piece, Keith. I struggled with the same feelings, and still do. A non-template life is breaking ground in many ways. But the exciting part will be crafting your own sense of purpose, rather than someone else’s. We are along with you on this journey.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Thanks Jeannie. I suspect it will take some time for these feelings to be accepted as normal, to be OK with them existing alongside everything else. I am excited! Very excited, and I should make that clear to any who might be doubting it. There’s simply a progression of emotion for this kind of change that must be followed.

ayngelinaNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 7:40 PM

So excited for you after all this build-up. That will be an amazing journey for you.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 9:33 PM

It has been many months of build-up, hasn’t it? Kind of beautiful how it unfolds now.

BrooksNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Over the last few weeks while preparing for my trip, I’ve gone through many of the same fears and emotions. Often sparked by people’s looks when I tell them I quit a good job to travel around the world, I try to remember two calming things; times past when I was afraid and the way I felt after taking the leap and that taking action is the greatest victory, not the results of that action. Everything always works out the way it’s supposed to, so dig in and enjoy! Really looking forward to seeing it develop.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 4:08 PM

Hey Brooks, those are some nice tactics. I think you’re right that the action is the hardest part. Thanks!

Julie TrevelyanNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 11:30 AM

I don’t travel a ton, except locally. But when I do take off for somewhere, I notice a mixture of preparedness anxiety (did I get everything taken care of that needs taking care of?) and laissez faire-ness going on in my lizard brain. And generally speaking, I’m always pretty pleased afterward with my traveling, even if it was just for a weekend and I returned with a cold. Traveling even a bit reminds me I’m alive, the I have fantastic opportunities to go where and when I want. The fears either will settle, or they won’t. Either way, keep going!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 4:07 PM

I think “keep going” is a good rule of thumb. Interesting that many people equate traveling with “feeling alive,” myself included – why is that?

AndiNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 9:38 AM

I have blogged these feeling myself many, many times. Those varied pre-trip emotions or states-of-mind that slowly take over are being as the date of departure get closer and closer…the far off stare, the longing, the sweet anticipation…and it is contagious…that’s why I read so many travel blogs because real travelers are the only ones who can relate to these feelings and sympathize with you! I am so looking forward to following you on your journey!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 4:02 PM

Yep, there’s been a lot of wistful stares ’round these parts recently. Must be an expression of the travel bug. Thanks for the solidarity and glad to have you reading along!

Ted NelsonNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 8:15 AM

You write posts worth reading even when you have not gone anywhere and are just reflecting. I cannot wait for the content that comes from when you are out there traveling as I am sure it will be awesome. Look forward to it.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Ted – very kind of you, thanks. I’m looking forward to hitting the road to see what I can produce as well.

Natalie - Turkish TravelNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 3:12 AM

I can identify with some of the points in your post and if your path goes the same way as mine did, then the fears will turn out to be unfounded. I can not help but think they our life is all mapped out for us, and these travels is your path to a different mindset. It is good that you can write them all in a post as awesome as this.

I don’t travel as much as I used to but when I do then I actually get frustrated when waiting to leave. I make the plans and then I want to leave there and then, just get up and go. I don’t want to wait, I don’t want to plan anymore. I also find my concentration goes and I can not focus on anything else. Sometimes, I wonder exactly what is going off in my head!!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Hey Natalie, that’s funny! I think that’s just the inherent pre-trip excitement. After so many months of planning, I think I’ve buried the excitement but it’s time is coming. Thanks!

SimonNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 2:16 AM

What a wonderful post, Keith.
Leaving our world, where we feel in a comfort zone, can be scary. It needs to be brave, and driven by a force urging us to explore.
Before I travel I usualy feel thrilled. For me, leaving from time to time everything behind and immerse in a different context is a sorte of urge. It helps me remember how wonderful the world is, it makes me discover something new about myself and it helps me regaining my peace of mind.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Hi Simon, I usually feel the same things. I think what makes this trip different is that I’ll be going solo without my wife (and constant travel companion). I’ll wish she was there to experience everything with me. But then I remember that this isn’t a vacation and she might actually get more enjoyment out of seeing my photos, videos, and blog posts.

Zablon MukubaNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 1:54 AM

its a huge leap you are undertaking and am really happy you are doing it. go and conquer the world. i love your motto i think it should be everyones “I will go where the fear doesn’t want me to go.” i love that alot

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Hi Zablon, thanks for the words of encouragement.

AliNo Gravatar October 25, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Every time I think about making major changes in my life to make travel a more central part of it, I get scared. (Ok so I still freak out right before a short trip too.) So far I’m doing ok with pushing forward, although I’m nowhere near where you are. It helps to know that other people get a little scared about this stuff too, even with as much time and planning as you’ve put into your new adventure. Somehow makes it feel a little less scary knowing it’s normal. I also think getting through it despite the fear makes it feel like so much more of an accomplishment. I think what you’re doing sounds awesome, and I’m really looking forward to reading about it!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 26, 2010 at 12:57 PM

Hey Ali – my guess is that major life changes will always be scary regardless of how much experience you have making them. For me, much of it is fear of the unknown but that’s a bit of a paradox since the unknown is also what I seek. It’s enlivening to be drawn toward something and repelled by it at the same time.

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