Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Don't wait

I think often about how this blog never turned into what I hoped it would be... i.e. an evocative, photo-laden, detailed, running chronicle of my travels in real-time as I backpacked solo across two continents.

But that doesn't mean I still can't share some stories from my travels. Yes, it all happened a long time ago, but I honestly think about travelling every day I'm home, so it is as fresh and precious to me now as it was then. For some reason, I keep these thoughts to myself, as if it isn't relevant to my life now. Totally wrong of course! Let me explain.

I follow a group on facebook called Girls Love Travel. The title of the group is pretty self-explanatory. Some of the posts and comments are really insightful, and even enlightening. The community perks me up when I'm feeling low - and I feel low often, what with my bleak 9-5 working routine of going to and from the office in the chilly winter darkness.

One GLT-er (as we call ourselves) recently shared a story about her father who is quite ill, and asked the group for advice on how she can take him on one final trip overseas to fulfill a long-term dream, while still being mindful of his health. Her love, thoughtfulness, generosity and compassion for her dad, who was an avid traveller in his younger days, and now as an older man is basically confined to a motorised chair, really touched me. While many people would host a lavish dinner or buy a fancy gift to show affection, she chooses to give him a memorable experience, perhaps one that will end up being his final hurrah in a lifetime of memorable experiences.

It was inspiring in a way, but mostly just jerked me back into perspective, and was very validating. Why? Because while I long to travel every day, I also doubt myself every day. I constantly wonder if it would have been better for my future if I didn't spend most of 2014 & 2015 overseas, but instead spent it sitting at a desk chair as I do now, making $$$ and padding out my CV.

Nevertheless, I do not regret it. Not one bit. And stories like that GLT girl's story really give me confidence that I made the best choice for myself at the time, and that I have to trust that the results of it will carry through forever. Because some day I may not be able to do it again - and if I had waited, I may not have ever been able to do it at all!

It may not have been the right decision for everyone, but it was the right decision for me. And the benefits are subtle, which is why I question my actions all the time, but they are there nonetheless, and I will learn to see the value of it as I grow. Like I did when I read that one simple warm heartfelt facebook story.

So while this blog is never going to detail my travels back then as they happened, I can still recount, retell, and relive, with the added serenity of retrospect. And I think it will serve as a reminder, not only to myself, but to all of you, that what you get in a day's travel, you keep for a lifetime - and beyond! When we tell our stories to our friends and our kids and our grandkids, we inspire them to be curious and exploratory and adventurous and proactive, which is a great gift.

Seriousness aside: I will also admit that I am a terrible perfectionist. When I was on the road, I never made the time to throw out a word or two, slap on a pic or few. That's ok, I was busy living!

Now I am back, I still feel like I need so much time to sort through old journal entries and photos and blah blah, and then plan and design each post. And it does. But if I just tone down the inner critic, it really doesn't take long to click "Publish". Honestly every time I flick back through my old pictures, I get such a rush of memory and emotion and sensation, that I think this is a really rewarding, satisfying process I've been denying myself for too long out of laziness.

So don't wait. Don't wait to travel if you want to and you have the means to right now. Don't wait to do anything, actually, if you want to and you can. Even if that's just sharing some lovely stories on the internet.

Here's my photo of the mesmerising ocean of temples in Bagan, Myanmar. I wanted to stand here forever, just gazing peacefully and in wonder at that vast expanse of green, sprinkled with dabs of ancient brick-hued history.

I was in Myanmar for a month over July-August 2015, exactly 2 years ago now. It has been the most challenging and also one of the most intimate experiences of my travels abroad so far. My confidence behind the camera skyrocketed in this mystic country and it helped me dig a bit deeper into every encounter I had. You can see some of it on my instagram.

Not only that, I made wonderful connections, and even collected a motley crew of adopted international "family" members that I journeyed with for a few weeks. Now that we are worlds apart again, I should probably let them know that I still think about them, and how much they mean to me, and how much our travels together changed me.

What would you do right now if you decided not to wait for it? Would love to get your comments below!

Have a great night folks!

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