Is anyone ever fully satisfied in life? What is it that we are seeking? Why do I feel like I’ve been able to obtain so much of what I want yet feel there’s still something missing? ? This topic gained lots of comments on a recent Facebook post of mine and honestly, I was surprised by all the feed back.
I’ve been on the road for over 10 months. Things haven’t gone as planned but I wasn’t 100% sure of how they’d go anyway. Ten countries, an injury, major surgery, months of recovery, countless stomach “bugs,” 2 deaths, and an odd sense of loneliness later, I’m wondering if it may be time to think about going home. What will going home bring me? Stability, reunification with friends, the companionship of my ever faithful Weimaraner, Basil, and all the regular ways of life. Gym, work, gym, home…
The happy monotony that sent me searching for more. When I first set out to write this blog, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” came on, the salsa version. How fitting. I spent part of the day traveling, an all too common necessity while adventuring, and I had time to think about “life, the truth, and being free,” (You Sang to Me, Marc Anthony!), and more so, what it is that’s missing from my life. Some comments on my Facebook thread included finding love, a meaningful job, meditation, heck even finding Jesus or some other spiritual path. I’m not having an existential crisis, I’m not searching for the meaning of life or my reason for being. For the most part, I know who I am and what I want, but putting everything into one place, at one time doesn’t seem possible so it comes down to decision making. What do I want, and what do I want now?
I like my profession. I feel like I have a field, skill set, educational background, and passion to help people. I enjoyed my job in San Antonio working for a non-profit organization and when I decided to leave, included in my agenda was working with and helping others through volunteering. But things haven’t gone as planned. Initially, I did some volunteering. First in Mongolia. I forged friendships with the locals and felt at home in a distant land. While I wasn’t necessarily working for the betterment of society, I gained a new appreciation for the people around me and their hard work. In Nepal, I worked with an NGO that delivered much needed medical care to people in remote areas. While medicine isn’t my background, I did my best to incorporate nutrition education into a society that sees high rates of child stunting and other nutrition related issues. I went on to hike the Himalayas and after 4 months of being with others, which was incredibly enriching, I was craving some time on my own. When I first arrived to Thailand, I rented an apartment and lived alone. I ate healthy again, avoided piles of rice, noodles, and other non-nutrient dense carbohydrates, heck, I avoided carbohydrates altogether for a while and got back to my two a day workouts at the gym. I had some fun too though, made some new friends, and enjoyed the islands. By the time my visa was about to expire, I was ready to hit the road and my wanderlust brought me to Myanmar. And three days later, I busted my knee.
Nobody plans for that. So there I sat in Bangkok, recovering, and in the meantime, somehow so many people wanted to travel with me to different places and I said, “Let’s do it!” When my grandfather passed and I went home, I got to thinking about things a bit, like, “I’m so far away if there’s an emergency,” and I saw some of my friends, and all of my family, and sometimes that stuff hits you and you miss it (they kinda wanna make you run away too). But staying home was not an option. I just wasn’t ready. There’s still so much to see and do.
But back to work. Yeah, I don’t have a job, I wake up and feel no purpose in my life but to serve myself and somehow, that just doesn’t feel right. It feels so selfish and I’m more altruistic at the core, yet I do nothing for others these days.
And as time has passed while my knee heals, I’ve put more thought into finishing up my travels and going home instead of seeking out volunteer opportunities or a legit job abroad like I’d initially planned.
So, routine, a reason for being, and what’s left, besides a spiritual journey? Love. Milan Kundera, in his book “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” wrote “But in the love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and true they become.”
The more real and true they become… I’m not looking for an ethereal existence so yes, it’s that burden versus “lightness” I’d eventually choose. And, according to Nietzsche, what is seen as a tremendous burden could actually be a great benefit depending on how you look at it. Wait, how I look at it. This blog is about me after all. And while I’ve enjoyed the company of someone I’ve met in Bangkok, I don’t know if I could ever go all in again. It is a burden, the pain and disappointment that has come with failed relationships.
I reread a blog post from last July, “Letting Go, Part 2.” I “let go” of the pain brought on when I finally thought I could learn to love again. But the truth is, I don’t think I ever did let go, not because I miss him, but because I don’t want to be in the position to get that kind of hurt again. It’s different from a stomach bug or a torn meniscus. What’s the rehab for a broken heart? ?
The eternal occurrence of a broken heart, a burden I don’t want to bear. “But the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body…” And when that weight is gone, I miss it, so yes, perhaps love is the thing that’s missing, but it’s also the one thing I can’t make work. So it goes back to asking myself what I want, how much I want to give, and when.
Travel is my “Unbearable Lightness of Being,” I’m afraid if I give it up, I won’t get it again, it’s my freedom, and a break from my loveless life at “home.” But without some stability, love is not easy to find, heck, it’s not easy to find in any situation! For now, I can’t make a decision, like I literally cannot. I cannot say I will do this or that on X date. I have stuff planned, I will follow through and I just feel like somewhere along the way the answer, what I need to do, will present itself. I don’t need to pray to God or ask for help. I’ve chosen my path and I’m going to continue on for the time being. In some ways, I’m happier than I’ve ever been and while I feel like I’m useless to others, I know I can work or do something more fulfilling in that regard at a later time. Plus I have some ideas marinating!
“If love is just a game, then how come it’s no fun, if love is just a game, how come I’ve never won? I guess maybe it’s possible I might be playing it wrong.” Noah and the Whale, 2 Atoms In a Molecule.