After a year of teaching English in South Korea, walking out of the classroom for the very last time felt pretty damn awesome. It wasn’t that I hadn’t enjoyed my time teaching – it had been a fun year with good people – but I was pretty excited for what I was going to do next and I was ready for a new chapter in my life.
My plan was to buy a tent and hitchhike into Europe, seeing where the journey took me without too much planning. My goal ‘to be open and to trust in strangers’ was a simple one, but the intended journey of a few weeks soon lasted six months and changed my life for the better. I didn’t grow much as a person, I didn’t find myself, and I didn’t find a life calling. What I did find was a lot of enjoyment, an appreciation for parts of the world that I never knew existed, and I found my faith in humanity restored. There were good people, full of kindness, everywhere that I went, and I connected with many of them, if only for an instant. In the busy world of 40+ hour work weeks and sensationalist media, we forget that human beings are human beings, and that all of them can be decent when given the chance.
Over the years that followed, I set myself new goals: to live in Istanbul, to cycle to Slovakia, to build a pirate ship and live on it, to support myself through creative pursuits, to walk across Iceland, and to write a book, to name but a few. This gave me a slight direction in life for each moment that I had a goal. I spent the last year in Australia and I struggled with my goal: to save some money. I think the problem was that my goal was somewhat misaligned – I wasn’t quite sure what I would do with the money and I have never valued finance above quality of life – a huge part of this site is that money is not essential for many (but certainly not all) worthwhile pursuits in life. But there I was, working away for 70+ hours a week for many months in jobs that I didn’t particularly like. My quality of life was low, my goals were not well placed, and as a result, I didn’t even achieve what I set out to do.
When I left Australia, I headed to New Zealand where I hoped to cycle the length of the country. That plan quickly fell apart, and I was left with no aim in an expensive country. For the next two months I drifted, aimlessly (between several countries), which was far less than ideal. There are times in my life when I like to float about from one place to another with no clear goals in mind, but this was not one of those times. I had booked multiple flights in advance, thinking that I would save myself money, but ended up restricting myself with what I could actually do as I had to wait around for those flights to happen.
At length, I have decided I would like to have something to go back to in-between journeys. A place of my own, rather than staying with others. And there is a young lady who will be joining me on this new journey (although she has already endeavoured to spend four years with me on many journeys). In an ideal world, I envision the ability to take on short journeys, then return to this place of my (our) own. But to get there is difficult due to certain decisions and lifestyle choices we have made in the past. For the time being I am working every hour that I can and I am collating enough pieces of paper to chop down a small forest, largely due to the fact that at birth we are issued with pieces of paper that define where we can and cannot live. When these pieces of paper are collected and we have paid many thousands of pounds, I hope that we may finally be allowed to live in the same country (for a maximum of 2.5 years).
With the exception of being able to see my family, play the odd game of cricket, and visit an old-fashioned English pub, I am at a difficult moment in life. But I have a goal. And if I can achieve what I hope to achieve, three months from now I hope that I will find myself in a place that I want to be.
Sometimes we lose sight of our goals. Sometimes we have our goals in exactly the wrong place. And sometimes we find the dissolving cliff face we have to ascend is just too much work. At these times it is important to stop a moment, take a step back, and look at where we are heading, and where we want to be. And when that path is no longer correct for us, we find a new one that suits us better for that moment in our lives.
This journey started four years ago when one young lady made a very bold move and some big sacrifices. Our journey has taken many twists and turns, but I am excited for where I hope it might lead.