I wrote a little while ago about happiness on the road, I plan to continue that train of thought here.
Before I dive into this, let me set a scene for you.
Imagine you’re travelling alone, proper alone, 6 hours a day with nothing but your head in your helmet, alone with your thoughts. But then when you arrive at a place, you can’t dive into the things that are in your head…because you don’t know anyone and everyone at home is asleep.
So you dive into any conversation you can…which is the standard conversation you have with anyone else who is travelling.
Name? – which you immediately forget.
How long have you been travelling? – To get a measure of the kind of traveller they are.
Which direction have you come from and where’s next? – To see if you might bump into them again, in which case, add them to facebook (so you don’t forget their name).
Do you want a beer? – Yes
You that this doesn’t give you much chance to crystallize your thoughts. Crystallizing thoughts is an interesting thing. Imagine inside my head, that is rattling around inside my helmet, thoughts are water. Sloshing around without any rhyme or reason, unchecked and unchallenged. Including these thoughts in conversations helps pull them together, gives them structure and presents them in a more graspable form. It’s like crystallizing water by freezing it.
Writing has been the only reprieve I have found from the constant flow of thoughts, without having anyone to bounce them off. So when I finally stopped in La Paz for 10 days AND had Ash to bounce thoughts off things crystallized quickly.
I found quickly that I was unhappy with the haste and way I’m travelling. It might seem weird from a distance and that I’ve made a mountain out of a molehill, because all you see from distance is pleasure. Your estimations of how happy or unhappy I would be becoming are more exaggerated the further away you are. The pleasure of the experience is what I project, the highlight reel, of course. But always wanted to communicate more honestly than that.
I realised I hadn’t explored destiny lane in a long while and which version of me lives down it. I was diving blindly towards a destination that I didn’t really have a care for anymore and was anxious because I know that the bike won’t make it that far. I had no flexibility in my own head and therefore had lost the freedom that I changed everything for.
I realised I wasn’t working towards anything anymore, realistically, I have proved to myself that I can do it. I can live through massive change, I am comfortable in the world alone, I can ride through vast expanses, I am capable of high adventure. I have smashed my expectations and I’ve never been one to jump up and down about something that I know can happen anyway.
But even after thinking all this, I know my happiness was waning. Working towards the goal of Alaska, meant I had lost control of the drive. I was making sacrifices to make sure I could achieve it and frankly, I don’t care for it anymore. I had to be honest with myself, the answer I had spat so often, “2 years, to Alaska on a motorbike”, had become mundane. It was to impress people, which meant THEY were driving me to my destination.
So I went to work. I spoke with Ash, friends, family and mentors. Posing similar and different questions to all of them about life, travel and me.
I slowly began to compose a vision of my ideal self. It ended up being 5000 words of different versions of where I could go and what I could do, for the next month, year and forever. From there I have worked hard to whittle it down to something simple. Asking simple questions help.
What aspects of my life are there because of external forms of validation?
What parts of my life are there because of genuine passion and joy?
What useless activities and possessions can I get rid of?
What small and attainable goals can I set for myself?
Here’s what I have come up with so far.
I think what is needed for my happiness is simple – the possibility of being useful or kind to people who it’s easy to do good, who aren’t used to have it done to them. Work, which I hope will be of some use, then rest, nature, surfing, love, books, music, my friends and family – which will make up my community.
I have exorcised a lot of demons on this trip and am much happier with where I am mentally. But physically, I could be in happier places. Taking a step back from my life as I knew it has allowed me to gain a better perspective, but that perspective is that life was pretty damn good.
For now, my plans are to get to the coast and start surfing again, meet a friend in Lima, then go to the Galapagos. After that, Columbia. Then…who knows?
To quote an amazing surf film “There was once a man who became unstuck in the world – he took the wind for a map, he took the sky for a clock, and he set off with no destination. He was never lost.“
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