Tea break at ten, lunch at one and tea again at three. Reflecting on my last 6 months in England working on my parents new house.
I feel this is a routine more familiar to most than the routine of cycling from place to place. The routine of waking in the morning, sleep deprived, having a quick breakfast and gradually waking up as I do hard labour. Without adequate sleep, or waking up naturally, I found it difficult to control my emotions, and find it best if I am left alone to do a task and drink lots of water. Is this just what I am experiencing, am I unique in this early morning anger management battle?
Luckily the feeling subsidies most days by mid morning, my headache has gone and I can begin to feel at ease again, the person I like being. I try as hard as I can not to bring this negativity back to Mayu, but of course at times I leak and let some of my frustration out. However we both support one another and quickly resolve our frustrations, talking about how we feel etc. Talking to one another without raising voices or feeling aggressive is a very positive step towards having a good relationship with myself, and anyone else, not just my partner.
I know that friends and family will read what I write, and freely criticise and process something without engaging with me. I also hope that someone can relate to my time here in England and reflect on themselves. The routine I have had for the past 6 months has reminded me of my previous so called hard working life, working 8 till 5 to earn something to help us along our journey. Previously in work I had always had something in the planning, a reason to be working. Mainly the thoughts of travelling somewhere far from where I was. Escaping ‘ reality ‘ maybe. Of course I still have these feelings, hence the bicycle travel. But as I get older I try less to think about where I might be in the future and relax in the knowledge that those moments will arrive when they do. Instead I try to feel more about where I am in the present. The place, the people around me and who they are. I get a great pleasure in being awake and alive, trying not to be sucked into the mundane routine that seems so easy to fall into. Life right now is very simple for Mayu and I, we concentrate on the weather, and like nomads of the pass plot out route along the silk road avoiding high places in fear of snow and look for warmer places to sleep. Late afternoon we look for water and by 5pm we hope to have a good place to camp. Although I am not working as such, whatever it is we are doing, its hard work, but gives me purpose.
Curiousity and positivity go hand in hand. They keep me alive. I get so engaged when I am learning something new. Whilst I am cycling or travelling. I seem to have so much time to be curious, partly because there are less distractions. There is time to read, time think about life, all life really and how it is so interconnected. At the moment I am reading a book about mushrooms, and how we are connected to them, what purpose they have in our world. So far as I understand, they are one of the major building blocks of life. When thinking along these lines it seems almost impossible to feel frustrated with mundane work tasks when we remind ourselves of this complex system that we are apart of. Although I have not been as curious in the 6 months in England as I am when travelling, I want my message to be that I have bought some of my curiosity from travelling into my routine of work, some might say ‘ the real world ‘. When we arrived back in Europe, and amongst people with a similar story to my own. From a western middle class life. They would ask if I would ever return to a normal way of living and not hit the road again. Sometimes my Mum asks me if this is it, and will I ever settle down and follow the routine that seems to be common place?
Anyone with a level head has some direction in their life. If it is career driven, the aim is to be promoted. Or get to a stage that is comfortable. For some the aim is just to feel comfortable, financially or in a relationship. What ever it is, the general consensus would be to better ourselves or better our position in life. However I have come to understand that bettering our financial position can have certain effects on our mind and well being. A lot of people these days take holidays, no employer would deny you one. But to some cultures it would seem such a crazy idea that we go for a short period to escape our normal day to day living. On holiday it is common place to spend more than we usually would in our day to day life. I would do this, come back to my career, and return to my ambitions to be financially stable. Which seemed to be so conveniently just out of reach. Pushing me further in the direction of emotional instability.
Convenience and routine seem to find themselves hand in hand. The easier something is, the more likely it is to turn up in our routine. However something that really hits me when I start these kind of trips is how I can enjoy the small things. Sitting on a chair, feeling warmth, a hot shower and eating at a table. If anyone has spent any time away from these basic luxuries they might have an idea of what I mean. But the ecstasy of enjoying these things fades fast, in a matter of days they blend into my life again and I struggle to remind myself of all the things I should be appreciating. Right now I look back on our days cycling in Africa, I was in t shirt, shorts and drinking a cold coke on the side of the road. Laying about with people, eating papaya and avocado by the kilo, but I don”t remember appreciating it like I do now. Cycling in Turkey so far has been cold to say the least. It’s our first experience of camping out in cold weather, I’m not sure I enjoy it, and would choose the heat if I had a choice. However there might be a time when I look back at how fresh it was and laugh about the constant waterfall of snot coming out my nose. For now at least, I can enjoy the beauty and silence that comes with winter.
When I first arrived back in my parents home after our first cycling trip. I would think that washing up with hot water was completely unnecessary, but after a short time not only was I washing up with hot water, I would waste cold water and wait for the hot water to come out of the tap. Comparing that to using just a cup full of cold water to wash my spoon, bowl, cup and pan, how can the same person be so different? When we travel, we are not going on holiday as such. We spend less than we would in our daily lives. And are constantly reminded of all these conveniences that are available at home. I remember seeing a dishwasher in Istanbul after coming from Africa and finding the idea quite funny, because I could re look at an object that had been a part of my life since the beginning. Travelling and living a very basic existence allows me to re look at all the things I would otherwise take for granted. Travelling has given me a lot of time in exchange for a small amount of money, to be curious. To look around and discover so much about people and the world I live in, that I might have missed if I had buried myself in work. Travel allows me to loose this ingrained fear that we all seem to have and look forward to the uncertainties in life.
We had a very good opportunity a week or so ago to hang out for an evening with a group of guys, the level of English was excellent so we could have really engaging conversations. I found myself defending a view that people are innately good. I got the whole, “cup is half full” etc etc talk and that I was an optimist, but I realised that the cup is not important and neither is the view of a person. From that conversation I learnt that my view should always be neutral when challenged and my feeling of positivity comes only from the sum of all my experiences. Many years ago in my late teens I was sent with work to a sales training seminar. It’s as bad as it sounds, but I did pick up something from it. The speaker gave me the idea to avoid reading newspapers in the morning, he said it was a talking point to perspective clients, however the subject was often negative. He said if you can absorb positive stories, experiences. It’s likely that this is the message you will put out. And by motivating others, motivates yourself.
I think it is important for us all to be true to what feels right. And right now I don’t feel settling down in life is just about the house, career and family. I think being mentally settled and being comfortable about the unknown future is far too overlooked. There is too much focus on our pension and financial security and less on our mind and well being. Of course I would love to have a home of my own, but whilst I am able bodied I want to travel and work on understanding more about the world through my own eyes. Because I’m privileged enough to do so. For now my chosen career is curiosity.