Shortly after our trip began, the enthusiasm died. What we thought was going to be a profound shift in attitude, philosophy, and mental health proved to be something neither Iza or I could have ever predicted.
Hardship and discontent.
Something that started out as idealistic and pure quickly became a slog of exhaustion (physical and emotional), drama, and the knowledge that the place we were going to lay our heads that night would not be our own. Even when we did manage to make camp or sleep in our van, we longed for quiet, warm nights on the couch with a bowl of Trader Joe’s popcorn and a shitty Netflix rom-com.
When making our grand plans as full-time travelers, we failed to properly account for how much we’d miss our routine – our home. What started as a vacation soon melted into the realization that we’d need more than new locations and a pat on the back to keep us happy, healthy, and eager to keep going. There have been times of downright misery mixed within all the great memories we’ve undoubtedly made.
It’s contributed heavily to why we stopped keeping up with this running journal (aside from a few photo essays). I didn’t feel like the perfect version of what we are doing aligned with the reality, and for some reason that sting sucked all motivation to document our travels in any meaningful day. We’ve been to breathtaking national parks, bustling urban centers, misunderstood rural oasis, and ancient European strongholds, but the energy we’ve carried to these places hasn’t been enough to let us fully appreciate the experiential gifts we’re lucky enough to open every day.
An honest approach to writing is the only approach I know. I didn’t think people wanted to read about a moody, unfunny, and decidedly depressing foray into my downtrodden psyche. It’s been an unavoidable truth and one that has prevented me from sharing anything since we left the Grand Canyon more than 4 months ago.
And what, exactly, is that truth?
Traveling, for everything great it does for people, is hard fucking work. It requires more than relinquishing the day to a cold drink and the sounds of crashing waves (though, we’ve done that, too). In fact, just like anything in life, traveling full-time requires discipline, restraint, and letting go of the little things that can drive you through a fucking guard rail. I simply haven’t been able to give those aspects of our life on the road the attention necessary to maintain a wholly positive outlook.
Heap on top of that the pressure that comes from a self-imposed expectation of producing quality web content on a daily basis, and you’ve got a recipe for two constantly weary travelers who are doing everything they can just to survive. It didn’t take more than a week for updating this blog to feel like a chore. And when your life is void of any resemblance of structure or focus, chores simply don’t get done.
In about two months time we’ll be pulling our horse into the stable for the last time as life adventurers. No doubt, we still have a few great experiences to hang our disgusting, sweat-soaked hats on, but it’s a little sad to know our trip is nearing the home stretch and soon we won’t have access to such unhinged freedom. Will any of this new-found insight change the frequency, or at least the attitude, with which we update this blog?
Probably not. But, that’s okay. Any aspirations we had to somehow stop the world in its tracks with our chatty, road-seasoned observations were tossed out with Thanksgiving leftovers. We’ve come to terms with the way this story ends, and feel excited to start the next – hopefully more stable – chapter in our lives.
Actually, we’ve come to terms with something much more essential to being happy whether you’re eating your lunch at a west Texas rest stop or neck deep in your second mortgage. It’s the ability to forget about where you’ve been and relinquish control of where you’re going. It’s the easiest thing to say and the hardest thing to do, but it’s the only way to feel totally content, grateful, and excited about where you are right now.
Just as we started this trip back in August I put together a list of core values we call The Wanderly Way. It was a road map we drew for ourselves to help guide us when things didn’t go as planned. Since August, I hadn’t looked at those values until earlier today, when I realized I haven’t been adhering to any of those core values in quite some time. The best version of myself is aligned with those things – health, work, community, and mindfulness – and when I’m not aligned with them I dip into a wretched funk the likes of which Iza has come all to accustom to dealing with. Sorry, babe.
But, after reading through those core values today, I’ve gained gained back the confidence in my ability to embody them once again. And hopefully that means more writing for the sake of writing, and not for some preconceived bar set so high Stephen King would have a hard time climbing over it.
The last 6 months have changed me in ways I wasn’t always comfortable revealing. I think whatever I do next will be dictated by the man I’ve become. I can contribute everything that has happened to me to the risk we took by quitting our jobs and wading into an ocean of uncertainty. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I’d suggest everyone do something similar as often as they can manage.
I hope that whatever I do next I’ll continue to push myself and create goals that seem unattainable at the time. I hope I can approach these challenges with a better attitude and appreciation for what’s in front of me, rather than looking ahead at what’s not. I hope I can inspire people to make similar changes, and take risks that can help bring them closer to a gratifying existence.