A Line in the Sand

If you care about something you have to protect it.  If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it – A Prayer for Owen Meany: John Irving

In my last post I explained how I was at a crossroads but added that I had come to a decision and I announced that I WILL be choosing the other path.  Like any journey there has to be time spent planning before you can set out, but it is too easy to get bogged down in the research and prolong the start date.  I am very aware of my own voice of reason which threatens to paralyse me: and if I am not careful another six or even sixteen months will have passed me by.

Recent events threatened to waylay my plans so I decided to simplify things and write a list.  Now, whilst I am one of the best at procrastination I am also the master of list-making.  This list however, was small.  I sat down and under the heading ‘What is Important’ I wrote down just  four things. There are some things which are out of my control, so ignoring the obvious I wrote down the four things which I believed represented my dreams.   I believed that if I could get these four things in the correct order everything would fall into place and I would  know when I would be ready to stop the planning and step out over the line.  With the help of a friend, I assessed the list in reverse order.

  • Travel writing is a notoriously hard market to break into.  The top travel magazines receive more than 3oo pitches a week!  Whilst establishing a reputation and a career many writers contribute articles to online forums for free and the majority of writers are unable to make a living from their writing alone
  • Setting up a business that can sustain me from anywhere in the world will take time, however I do have ideas. Those ideas were jotted down in the best entrepreneurial style on a napkin over breakfast in a cafe in Brighton
  • The experiences will happen.  How I interpret them and incorporate them into my way of life is up to me
  • The travel.  I already have the itch, I just need to scratch it and book that first one-way flight

The arguments for each became shorter as I worked backwards up the list, so, (deep breath)….. I should acknowledge that I had instinctively put the list in the correct order to begin with and I should flip the list back to its original state

  1. Travel
  2. The experiences and the way of life that I crave
  3. The  ability to support myself whilst roaming with a backpack and a smile
  4. I must write

The line is drawn in the sand.  I just need to step over it.

The Crossroads

In January I went to the Telegraph Travel Adventure Show in London.  I had hoped that I might get some useful travel tips and ideas but I got so much more.  I came away buzzing with excitement at the possibilities which could be open to me.  There were people there from all walks of life and of all ages but all with a zest for life and the need to explore and to travel.

I chatted to the experts manning the stands and I went along to four talks/presentations. Before going to the show I had thought that my plans to travel were unusual and unobtainable, but I soaked up the stories and enthusiasm.  I have so much to look forward to this year, and since January I have already been to Cuba, Milan, Brighton and London.  Now however, we are already a quarter of the way into 2013 and I know that I have some big decisions to make.

Life is good.  I have amazing friends and family, my home is in a fantastic location and I have a secure job which I generally enjoy.  I could continue to travel during my time off from work and I could continue to write at weekends, but I want more.  This is not a selfish whim because I firmly believe that everybody has a duty to live the best life that they can.  There are usually constraints – children, partners, dependent parents , a mortgage or the biggest constraint of all,conforming to the norms of a society. If most or all of those barriers are no longer there, what reason or excuse remains?  The final, hardest barriers to overcome are your own fear and your voice of reason.

That inner voice can chip away, dissolving your passion and enthusiasm, replacing it with fear and apathy. At some time we have all  used phrases such as  ‘I had the chance but…’ or ‘I would have loved to have done/been…but’ (insert your own ambition here).  We all know people who constantly make excuses and everyone of us is guilty of doing this many times in our lives however I am differentiating here between those who dream and those who grumble and build their own obstacles even though their paths are open.

I have come to a crossroads in my life with wide open paths in each direction.  I can continue on my current path – its not a bad path and it is familiar and safe, or I can branch out on a new path.  That new path looks just like the other in that there are no longer any boulders or obstacles blocking its entrance but shimmering tantalisingly in the distance are my dreams.  I know that once I set foot on that path it will be full of new experiences which will be both scary and exciting, yet I know that even if I only dare to follow the path for a short while the rewards will be tremendous.  I feel that something vital is waiting up ahead for me and if I choose to reject that path, the ghost of what could have been will forever be gnawing away at me.  I have to take that path.  I will take that path.

I am waiting for one more piece of the jigsaw to fall into place which will enable me to set a timetable for my plans and then there can be no more excuses.  I will hoist my rucksack up onto my back and stride out purposefully onto that road.

A valuable lesson

I learnt a valuable lesson last night.

After spending  an hour or so in a bar with a friend, I was waiting for my bus home when it dawned on me that my mobile was not in my bag.  Cold panic set in and I ran back to the office to check I hadn’t left it on my desk, then I then retraced my steps back to the bar to search around and to ask the staff if a phone had been handed in.

I felt frightened, sick and I was also angry with myself.  My phone is a Blackberry and I have never bothered to ‘password protect’ it, so whoever found it would have access to my recent emails. I don’t have a landline and going into a Bank Holiday weekend I would have no way of contacting people.

Luckily the story has a happy ending and my phone was found but it did leave me wondering how I would have coped if I had lost it when I am travelling.  I have copied out all my contact numbers and the text and voicemail messages and I have emailed them to myself so that I can access them via my Hotmail account at an internet cafe or hotel.  I will also include details of the phone itself so that I would be able to report it lost or stolen and block access to the information held within it.

My phone may be lost or stolen in the future, but at least I have taken steps to limit the damage if that happens.

Off we go

I can sit and talk about my future plans all I like, but unless I actually take the plunge, nothing is going to get done.

So; I have submitted an article for a travel writing competition in a national newspaper, I have enrolled on a website through which I may find work abroad and I have registered for Spanish lessons.

It is just a small start but it is a start.


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