The travel paradox

The travel paradox

Within every good thing, there is an element of evil, and within anything, evil is an element of good.

I recently came to the conclusion that everything in life is on a spectrum.

The more we gain one thing, the more we lose the other. 

So, what does this have to do with travel? 

To answer that, we have to understand what fuelled our journey. Were we lost and seeking to find something? In search of a missing part of oneself? Or did we set out on an adventure?

Are we travelling for the journey, or do we have something to prove to ourselves? The achievement of reaching the destination? 

Have you ever had a feeling of wanting to be nowhere? Not wanting to be at home, only to drive somewhere with some connection? Sometimes hours away, only to find that it does not fill the void?

My Story:

After a week of considering my options, I continually came back to Palmerston North. And a need to go to Bunnings. Ever the rational thinker. 

As I sit here and write this, I realise just how ridiculous this is and how one track my mind was and still is.

My heart was not in the adventure. There was no adventure. I packed my bag, and with it, I carried a sense of numbness that I had not felt for over 20 years, though it was eerily familiar. 

After many weekends exploring the Manawatu region, and much left to discover. I began rationalising the economics in my head. It made sense to combine this with a need to go to Bunnings. An actual need for something I cannot get locally, not a primal male calling; Two [invasive pest species of] birds, one stone. 

Days later, I happened upon a post from Eva Zu Beck, reflecting upon her life on the road, and I really started to reflect upon why I travel and how everything in life is on a spectrum. 

Travel does not fit into a neat box. My motivation is that of a Venn diagram, which coincidentally reinforces my spectrum hypothesis. 

It is quite a cliche, but it is about the journey, not the destination. Especially in the case of Palmerston North, John Cleese would agree

The endorphins of reaching a destination fade fast, overshadowed by expectations, a silver bullet to the woes of daily life. A Journey solely for the destination is a chore, a means to an end, similar to sleeping all the way through the movie and waking up to see the finish. We know the bad guy dies, the good guy gets the girl, and they live happily ever after. We missed all the suspense, the action, and the unexpected plot twists and turns that make a movie memorable. 

Travel is about making memories, for it is memories that we carry with us forever and nobody can take away. 

I have realised travelling for the destination is running away from life's problems and not addressing them. It is the new pair of shoes or bag of chips while we watch trashy movies, an emotional bandaid. A distraction in a hopeless quest to escape the turmoil we do not quite understand, let alone move past. 

A journey is spontaneous photo opportunities, following side tracks and falling asleep listening to a river. It is the sense of wonder and discovering our surroundings. But most of all, it is the discovery of ourselves. Exploring without expectation, we encounter little things that bring us joy, candid moments that fill our cups and recharge our souls. 

Only once has travel for a destination or sense of achievement made me feel better about life. It was the Renegades Muster 2021. There was no illusion of what I was out to prove and why I was there. It was a 765km bikepacking race, not a holiday.

Travel has the ability to dissolve the concept of time. Living in the moment, we eat when hungry and sleep when tired. Free of the shackles of  schedule and responsibilities, consumed by the simple life we dream of. 

Having followed YouTubers Eva Zubeck, Chrome (Vancity van life) and speaking to others who live the van life, I feel full-time travel is like what Jim Carey said about being rich and famous, “everyone needs to become rich and famous to see it is not the answer”.

But the question remains, would we burn out from a life of full-time travel? Is fantasy better than reality?

For many (including myself), we are a moth to a flame when it comes to the dream of a life on the road, drawn to what will ultimately destroy us. 

There is one piece of wisdom that brings me calm in this existential crisis,

“You can do anything, but not everything” – David Allen.

And with that, I will continue to escape the golden handcuffs of a regular income as often as possible, fulfilling the fantasy with a degree of safety, dipping my toe in the hobo life. 

Posted: Wednesday 12 July 2023

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