Yātrā (यात्रा) The Journey; Vagabonding: pt1
February 3, 2019
तैयारी: Taiyaaree (Preparing)
“Those who stand at the threshold of life always waiting for the right time to change are like the man who stands at the bank of a river waiting for the water to pass so he can cross on dry land.”
Joseph B. Wirthlin
I’ve lived a good life really. You certainly can’t say I haven’t lived. My life has not been dull.
My first proper job was with the BBC and later ITV in their catering departments. I met some fascinating people there. Then there were the partying years, nights out at Heaven and G.A.Y. Dance, techno, house parties and drugs; although this period took its toll and I soon recognised when it was time to calm it down.
Following this period I travelled a lot. I rode on horseback across Brazil, crossed America by Greyhound and had a few train adventures through Europe, all the way down to Morocco but never for more than two or three weeks. I even had a stint as a teacher in the Gambia in Africa (that was for a few months).
I have really lived, I have met many great friends and I have really loved.
Six years of my more recent life were spent studying as a mature student; Hackney College and then Roehampton University studying psychotherapy. Once again I met some amazing people, many of whom are still my friends and my way of looking at the world (and myself) changed forever. I will never be sorry I got this degree. Even though I no longer pursue counselling as a career its influence is in everything I now do.
I’ve been through a few boring and grey years since I qualified; not grey as in my wonderful friends but grey in the limitations of my horizons over that period: I lost my way.
But then I went to Goa and everything changed again for me…
“Through all this world strode Vishnu: Thrice his foot he planted, and the whole world was gathered in his footsteps.”
I have experienced a lot of ill health this winter, gastroenteritis and the flu virus; I have always been someone who does better in the heat and the sun. I have an underlying health condition that means I hang on to viruses for longer. These times of illness lead me to thinking about my mortality.
An old friend of mine died a couple of years back; he was the age I am now. He went to meet a client as was his normal routine on a day the same as any other and on entering the office he keeled over with a heart attack and died on the spot.
Any of us could go like that; life is too short not to live your life to the fullest, to take chances and experience things while we still can; before it’s too late.
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde
A wise and respected friend of mine, who has also been dealing with a nasty dose of flu recently, said this:
She felt that being ill is sometimes like a cleansing, a bridge between two parts of your life, a time where you are forced to rest and take stock. so, I suppose in some ways something that can also be a positive thing if you use the time to rest and clear your mind; to meditate on your life.
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” – Buddha
I strongly believe that all of my life I have been moving towards something important and this act is something powerfully rooted within me. I am 54 years old this year and not achieving this goal is strongly affecting my mental and physical health. It’s almost as if I don’t do it now I will cease to be able to function anymore.
Putting it off is stopping me from holding on to jobs, causing depression and clouding my head to anything else but this one dream. I know that the time has to be now for my own sanity. The countdown and the preparations must begin from this day, especially now that the last hurdle (my debt problems) have been removed (or at least will be in December 2019).
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot
My friends and family will think they are doing the right thing by telling me not to go, that I am mad to even consider it. That I should conform to their idea of social norms…
…that I might die!
“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Christopher Columbus
But if they are true friends, who really know me, they will understand in the end why I MUST do this, no matter how it pans out. But what is it that I am planning on doing; let me explain…
16 year old me at home in Brighton.
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent van Gogh
I did not have a happy childhood, far from it. My childhood was full of brutality and hatred, mental and physical abuse; my father was and still is not a kind man. So, perhaps even from my childhood I have been wanting to escape, to run, to travel to some place more colourful (not grey and limiting), a place more friendly and full of hope (not full of hate and intolerance)…
…some place where I can look up towards the sun and smile.
When I was about 11 years old I was on a bus with my two brothers and my mum, travelling out of Brighton (my home town) on our way to a country fare. As you come out of Brighton there is a large park that travels up a hill. It is covered in woodland and for a child it seemed like a jungle. As we waited there, stuck in traffic opposite the park, I looked out of the window and saw four people coming out of the forest, two men and two women. Each had a backpack on their backs and they were all walking with hiking sticks. I looked at these four with wonder, what adventure had they just been on in that jungle? This triggered something in me that has stayed with me all my life.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I wanted to be one of those people with a backpack on, travelling on foot or by bus, boat or train, having adventures in exotic lands. I decided then and there; one day I would put on a backpack and travel the world for months!!
…That dream has never left me.
“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine
I have now made the decision that has been plaguing me for over two years. This drive to travel the world for an extended period has influenced all parts of my life; my work, my home, my friends and my mental health and made it impossible to live a normal life anymore.
I am going Vagabonding around the world!! But not for a short holiday, for 6 to 8 months; through Russia, China, South Asia, Nepal and ending up in India.
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair
Planning and preparation are everything.and that includes choosing the right time to go. Why? because of avoiding monsoon season in Asia, making sure my debt clearance situation is finalised and most importantly when the right planning, preparation, red tape and enough funds are in place.
I worked out I need 20 months, from now until I put my backpack on and go.
The date will be the 1st of September 2020. I have already started my research and I’m putting the feelers out to vagabonding Facebook groups for help in preparations.
20 months to prepare and save up, to put safeguards in place, get inoculations, visas and to put myself into the right mental state to undertake such a journey.
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” – Plato
As well as writing my regular posts about alternative living and hippie happiness, I will now be writing a diary of my preparations for the months to come leading up to my journey. These posts will then continue as a diary of my vagabonding adventures across the world once I have begun my travels.
And a message to my friends and family; I have been planning and thinking this through for a couple of years now (if not all my life). I have contingency plans in place for when I get back around accommodation and earning. Also around my medication and safety. I will be planning and preparing for this meticulously and will be blogging my every step, so you will know where and how I am. I have to do this for my own sanity and I do not have the fears you may have for me. I see the world differently to you and I challenge you to believe in me, back me up and support me over these preparation months and I hope by knowing who I am you will wish me a wonderful journey; and any suggestions you may have for these months of preparation and planning will be gratefully received.
In the next post I will be writing about the mental and psychological drive I have been experiencing to make this journey as well as my plans and preparations I will be undertaking in the next twenty months. I will outline the route and modes of transport and what travelling the vagabonding way actually means.