15 Countries in 10 Months and a Moments Rest. A Lot Can Change.
Today is the first time I have really sat still and have not had any urgent location to get to or task to accomplish in about 10 months. At least that’s what it feels like. 10 months ago I started moving, I moved across Asia North to South, started in South Korea and went all the way down through Nepal, then I island jumped around Taiwan and the Philippines. After that I ran around Vietnam and many other countries eventually culminating with me catching a train in Beijing all the way to Sweden by land, crossing mainland Asia again East to West into Europe. Now after all that I’m catching my breath in Thailand awaiting the arrival of my old friends from home for the next great adventure, but for now a moments rest.
A lot can happen in 10 months, as a person, in the world, and in life. Babies are created and born in less than 10 months, it’s two months short of a year, and for me I’ve found you can ramble through about 15 countries in that time, as I just did. But when you are on trains, planes, boats, or hoofing it on foot the world is literally always moving by and it’s easy to forget. Today I got sentimental and looked at pictures from the past, thought about my friends I hadn’t thought of in a long time, checked them out on facebook, and gradually realized their lives and life had really changed.
We lose track of the time, we forget clocks always move forward, and so do people. There is no past to go back to, it’s gone as far as you have, it’s followed it’s own way, the same as you, at every tic of the clock. With that, with my friends having babies, getting married, several ending years on relationships, and the constant march of life I felt the pinch of having been trapped in time in a bubble.
But then I looked at myself; I have changed. Ten months ago I showed up with a buzz cut and new clothes. Today I look in the mirror and I see a nose ring, two tattoos, new scars all over my body, I’m thinner, I’m older, I’m calmer, I’m a bit road worn, and very different. Time has moved on for me as well, I’m not an employee or a worker or a Midwesterner anymore. I’m a traveler. That’s what I do now, and after 10 months I’d say I’ve earned the right to say so.
It’s strange truly realizing you are a different person, especially since you see yourself in the mirror everyday. Thomas Wolfe once said, “I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once.” Today that was true. As a trained artist tuned in and specialized to watching life, I realized I was just seeing it again today with fresh eyes. Thomas Wolfe would probably smirkingly think, “You can’t go home again,” and he’s right, my home of yesterday is gone, a blink in time. There is excitement in this idea however; in the words of T.S. Eliot, “We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Sounds good to me.