movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another;
change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
It scared me to see a world mapped out, twenty years in advance. I'd be the next state manager, I'd buy a nice beachside apartment, raise a family ... you know the drill.
Did I really want to know everything that was going to happen next? Or did I want to move forward in life without the ability to predict and bask in the beauty of the unexpected?
I wrote about the unforeseen as a child. Penning an autobiography at the age of twelve as part of a school project. It was called A life in the land of the unexpected. What twelve year old writes such things?
But if I were to draw anything from that period in my life it would be that so many odd things happened, life ended up becoming noteworthy by default. Growing up in Papua New Guinea was like growing up in a movie, something was always happening to or around us.
It has often been described as one of the last frontiers for exploration in the modern world. It is this landscape that provided the background for tales of daring adventures, stories of brutal violence and a litany of new discoveries.
Perhaps it was this upbringing that instilled in me the need to explore stories of experiences foreign to the traditional. Things that weren't commonplace.
Drawing a parallel with the first three years after the crash, I found myself asking what had I done that was as fulfilling and adventurous as that time growing up in PNG. Were my accomplishments to date just a meek substitute, where I clutched at my achievements in some attempt at positive fulfillment?
Intuitively I felt they had and took the leap few dared to take. I left everything I'd re-built myself on behind and wandered off into the shadowy passages of unchartered territory.
“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” — African Proverb
First stop, Saigon, Vietnam.
Now, I want to introduce to you a concept that few have time to contemplate, let alone explore, especially once adult life takes over.
You never have enough time to do the things you should, or want, to do.
By this I mean is that life moves at such a rapid pace that you barely have time to do anything. But when you stop, when you do have time, that’s when the branches of life spring to life. When opportunity avails itself, motivating you to explore more than your normal.
Hopefully this happens at a time when you can and not when you're too rooted to that which you've become. For the tides of time and routine can lock you out and that hunger to seek no longer becomes a necessity.
If you're smart you'll pick up that book you always struggled to read. You'll explore questions about where we came from, how money is made, what governments are – questions that you normally don’t have time for that suddenly become of interest because you have the time to explore them, you have time to question things.
You-Tube can be a rabbit hole for such things.
My first few months of freedom I got to explore a lot of the concepts of life not normally given attention to. If I were back home, doing what I was doing I certainly wouldn’t have afforded myself the time to spend digging without reason … But I did and found myself exploring life through a different lens.
With time on your hands, no job, no routine, those rabbit holes can get pretty deep. Learning about lost civilizations, mysterious archeological sites or scientific evidence of a global cataclysm that wiped out a previous advanced civilization. I learnt about investing, managing finances and a little thing called bitcoin …
Most people feel they don’t have the time for this.
I didn’t … I was absorbing this information with a vigor I’d never had before. I wanted to learn and keep learning. This felt exactly as I had when I wrote that autobiography. A plethora of information, stories and wonderment filling my mind and awakening my imagination. The world was pouring in.
“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” — Mark Twain
I travelled all over Vietnam. I learnt. I spent a lot of time in Saigon's many coffee shops. I bought a bike and thought I was kick-ass, roaming daily through the chaos of Saigon's packed streets. I loved. I missed my mother. I got sick too many times to count.
Come the end of the year I'd produced (what I thought) were two finished manuscripts. (Yes, I had so much time I wrote two books.)
Having achieved my goal of finishing the book I decided I would return home to see family, friends and the place I'd left behind. I also planned to meet up with an editor for the first time to get an assessment on my work. I was mistakenly under the belief that Hollywood wanted to sign me up to make a movie out of my book.
By all respects I’d taken my time out, completed my work, spent some time with my partner and a part of me said that it was time to come home and get back to normal. Enough of the gallivanting about, you need to get a job and be like everyone else. Be adult, be responsible. At least that's what the voices around me kept echoing.
But I didn’t want normal, never did. I didn’t want what everyone else around me wanted. I wanted to keep living those crazy escapes I kept hearing about as a kid.
At some point during my trip home I caught up with a mate who Id previously travelled through Laos with. He told me he’d just broken up with his partner of many years, was just shy of losing his job and was consequently very contemplative of life.
Who better than to run into than me! For my advice was - Hey man, drop everything and go exploring, you’ll love it. Life is for living, life is the freedom to explore. Go traveling ... You couldn't shut me up.
I used some of the words from my previous post and shared with him the video of the man who lived on his bike, cycling South America. I told him to travel was to live and that he should come traveling with me.
I left Australia once again, returning to Saigon. Six weeks later I got the call and it was game on. My friends and I met up in England soon thereafter, having planned absolutely nothing, and would spend the next five months traveling together throughout Europe.
I still remember our first conversation at Heathrow airport as we met for the start of our journey, "So ... what do we do now?"
...that was all the plans we'd made.