I think Eat, Pray, Love set this universal tone for travel (and like, life in general) where everyone now assumes it goes hand in hand with finding yourself; as if everyone who’s on some sort of long journey is looking for something. As if that’s what we need out of life – to figure out who we really, really are.
I myself have made that joke an endless string of times.
“So what are you doing over here?” people ask. “Travelling around? Working?”
“Ya, travelling, writing,” I’ll reply. “Trying to find myself, obv.”
They laugh politely.
“Yeah me too,” they’ll say. And we’ll smile and maybe cheers because we’re both obviously crushing this cheap beer before we get home and reality hits. Maybe we’ll have a really great convo about life for a hot minute or maybe we’ll just kind of awkwardly be in the same space, regretting ever having started this convo and plotting the kindest way to remove ourselves from it.
Regardless of the outcome of that situation, the perceived notion around travel remains the same.
When you travel you’re supposed to come home changed and better; you’re supposed to have direction now. You’re supposed to know.
But after 2 months in Southeast Asia, I don’t know anything new about my life other than I now know how to make peanut sauce and I know that coconut is 100% my favourite ice cream flavor. But no, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life now. I don’t know who I am any better than I did before.
And I also really, really know that I never will.
Because after 2 months in Southeast Asia; 61 days of tuk tuk rides and pineapples; greasy hair and dirty Birkenstocks and misplaced everything. After 61 days spent with people from all over the world with their own lives and their own reasons for ending up at the exact same place I happened to be at that moment in time. Photographers. Students. Government employees. People who were hopelessly looking for something and people who weren’t at all. People who just needed a break. Wanted some sun. Wanted some noodles.
After spending time with all these people in all these places; talking about broken hearts and broken families and broken dreams. What our home country was like. Literally talking about ORCAS. What I’ve learned through all of this (yes, even the Orca convo) is that the world is really fucking big – and there are so, so many different ways to live in it.
So maybe we can all stop obsessively seeking direction; pretending to look for ourselves. I don’t actually think there’s anything to find. I mean, just because I learned how to say ‘thank you’ in Vietnamese doesn’t mean I’ve found direction now. It just means I had a pretty cool experience – and I’m going to have a lot more of those when I get home too. I’ll keep learning and changing because that’s what being a human literally is. Maybe it’s not about figuring out who we really are – it’s simply about being whoever we happen to be.
And whether you travelled across the world or not; whether you did some awe-inspiring sunrise yoga on the beach or snoozed til noon – well, maybe it doesn’t matter. You’ll never figure it out and you’ll never be doing it right. There is no right or wrong way to do it. There’s simply a whole bunch of different ways to give life a good ol’ try. I mean, even the peoples who look like they’re doing it right – the ones who seem to have a pretty clear direction – totally aren’t. They’re fucking up just much as you are.
Everyone’s running late and being rude to someone along the way and locking themselves out of their overpriced condo (again). We’re all fucking up literally all the time. That’s what life is, baby. A giant network of people screwing up and laughing about it only to screw up again a few hours later.
So maybe we can all chill out; stop thinking everyone’s having such a better, more successful life than we are. They aren’t. They’re just giving life a go, too. So let’s just keep finding things that make us happy and keep adding them to our big happy pile. And maybe we can try to do something with that pile and maybe it’ll fail and maybe it won’t. Then we’ll try again. Because after all, there are a billion and one ways to do this whole life thing – so it’s pretty normal (and pretty fucking fun) to spend your time sampling a few different styles.
And ultimately, I don’t know man. I think we’re doing a pretty damn good job already, simply by living within this big bad world in our own way with our own go-to hairstyle and our own favourite coffee shop. That in of itself counts for something.
Maybe, really, that counts for everything.
See ya soon, YYZ 🙂