maanantai 5. elokuuta 2013

Day 285: Travel summary - moving and not moving


For the past few days I have been going through very personal challenges which I cannot (yet) share much about publicly because they concern other people and matters that are yet unresolved. This private process has consisted of finding structure and getting to know myself through written and spoken introspection. I am currently going through past events from my childhood which are related to the events in my life right now. One specific theme has been present in all the points I've been processing, though, and because it's a bit more general I would like to open it up.

I am writing the following as much to bring clarity to myself to what has been going on in my life as much as I'm writing it to share it with others. Recently I have had trouble “getting a grip” of myself and this is helping me get back on track.

I have now been traveling for three months in countries and cultures previously mostly unknown to me. I left home after a massive workload of 8 months had just barely been finished and lifted off my shoulders, and I looked forward to this trip as a reward and also as a chance to rethink my life which, as had become obvious during that extremely stressful and demanding 8 months, was not the kind of life I wanted to live.

During the very first week of traveling I was ecstatic. I felt free and unburdened, I was full of energy, I was enthusiastic about the places I visited, the people I met and the things I learned. After the first two weeks I changed my location from one country to another, and I remember looking at my travel plan and thinking: “I have so much left of this journey. What will I do with all this time?” It felt like looking at a gaping void. I may have survived the first two weeks on nothing but the energetic release of the relief of finally being free of my duties, but I still had many more to come – many more weeks when there would be no one with me, no one to guide me, no one to hold me, no one to go to – no one but myself. This made me anxious.

Little by little my enthusiasm declined. I went through a phase of travel stress where I tried to move myself because of self-judgement: I felt like I “had to” travel around and achieve all these cool experiences just because I had the extraordinary chance to, but meanwhile I started to crave for stability in a “normal” life, a life with structure and balance and a level of certainty, where I wouldn't have to worry about my shoes getting wet, food running out or electricity being cut. I started to withdraw from sightseeing and focused more on enjoying slow-paced everyday stuff such as cooking and walking around, of which I learned a lot. (One doesn't have to go see impressive monuments to learn of a culture, when it is in fact enough to just turn the door-handle and walk down the streets.) Interestingly though, soon enough I was in a country where all I had a chance to do was this everyday stuff, and I didn't even try to go out of my way to do something extraordinary, which with plenty of effort might have been possible. I felt too worn out to even try.

But, within that period of forcibly sitting on my ass I did rekindle something in me that required me to get incredibly bored in the right company. I got excited about returning home because I started to see all the possibilities in the framework of the life I had “left behind”, and my view on how I could change my life for the better got clearer. I grew less and less afraid of returning home.

After returning to “civilization” - to a first-world country – I have been regaining energy to be active, but not in a hyper-mode as I first started off. I have learned that because my life at the moment lacks the stability one would have in a permanent environment I need to give myself stability through enough rest. I have learned a bit more about listening to my body as an indicator of the state of my wellbeing. What I have picked up, though, is that when I am alone all of this works fine, but when I am with others – whoever they may be – I easily give up all initiative and just follow around with little to no input unless I am in an obvious alpha-position. I have been paying attention to this phenomenon and working with it recently.

One thing I use to justify this limpness with others is the fact that I'm on a holiday: “I don't have to do anything.” And to an extent this is true. I have very few responsibilities to attend to at the moment, and most of them are small arrangements concerning my return to Finland. Apart from that there is nothing I “should” be doing. But I could be doing a lot. When I am alone I am more inclined to make the most out of my situation by investigating the places I am in and the possibilities they offer, because there is no one else here to make my life an enjoyable, interesting and “worthwhile” experience for me. When I am with others I give this up because, in all truth, I find it tiring. Whether this is laziness or a sign of stress, I am not sure.

This tiredness has made my return look more fearsome than it did before. I look at the responsibilities and challenges awaiting me and I think: “Ugh, do I have to?” Which is insane as I was just a few weeks ago very excited about the very same things! I see that there is an inevitable polarity pattern here, going from one extreme to the other, and I take this as a sign of a need to balance myself. How I relate myself to my tasks and responsibilities is somehow fucked up – I'm guessing I see the tasks as something “bigger” than me, something “out of my league”. But I will return to this in self-forgiveness.

This journey has been an adventure into myself. This perspective into activeness/passiveness, motivation, living, experience and work is just one of the many, and I will probably continue with the other aspects of what I have learned in the posts to come. I will next continue with the self-forgiveness on the points I mentioned here.

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