Talia and I sit here in a café in North central Vietnam. I have a small cold and we haven’t been able to see any sights or do anything interesting because of it.
I haven’t blogged in a while and while there are many reasons why, I decided to write a little today and share my thoughts.
A lot of the people we speak to don’t really know what we are doing here, in Asia. We heard from Talia’s brother at Christmas that some people seem to think that we are on an Indiana Jones style adventure which, while untrue, would be quite pleasant. No, we aren’t running through caves with huge boulders rolling behind us. We have been to a few tribal villages but they haven’t chased us or tried to eat or sacrifice us…
So what have we been doing? Well… I have no idea. I have no clue. One of the reasons I haven’t written in a while is because I have been doing a little soul searching, trying to find what it is that I am doing.
I am in a very small community of people (just me and my girlfriend, about as small as a community can get) and though we share everything, I spend a lot of time in my solitary shell. Just thinking to myself about … well….. myself.
What am I doing? Am I doing more than the other average traveler? Is that what I want to do? But most importantly, how does it affect ME? So while most people we meet are doing something similar to us, though usually on shorter schedules and quite often more touristic, is that me too?
Am I just an ecologically negative force on my surroundings, taking the same photographs of the same stuff as everyone else? Sometimes I wonder if the money I saved for this trip could have been spent on a nice new Audi, or a deposit for a nice two bedroom apartment overlooking suburbia.
I’m doing this for me.
I am travelling and seeing and doing for the sake of myself and how it will affect me as a person.
All of the time I spend reflecting and thinking about my past, all of the mistakes I made and the trouble I caused. All of the apologies I owe and mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. While I’m sure that because I spend so much time here in my solitary shell thinking about my past while living my present, everything I think is expanded and grows to a gargantuan psychological force that I must over-power and come out the other side a better person.
I saw a movie recently, a Dreamworks cartoon, but the parallels suffice. The movie was “Bee Movie” and in one of the first scenes there are two bees conversing over their summer experiences. One bee says he was glad he spent the summer travelling around the bee hive, the other bee says “yeah, you really came back different.”
Different?! Will anyone ever comment on my difference when I return to the world? Will others complement my “differences” when I return, the differences in my expectations, personality, wants, intelligence, etc. Will I be different to the one who made all of those mistakes? Or has all of this just been a dream where when I wake up I still don’t talk to certain people because of a mistake I made in my past that in their eyes I am still to be held accountable for?
Will I be able to sit at the adult table at the next family wedding or will I once again be pushed to play kids games at the kids table because I didn’t grow up and get a real job yet, because I haven’t paid into my pension fund like some other people in my life who chose successful work over world travel?
I guess the closest analogy I can make is if I see myself as a shining light, and as I pass through a pane of glass, how do I come out the other side? Will I come out the same as before, just with a fistful of photographs and a boastful ego? Perhaps I come out the other side a completely different colour, as if the glass is stained. But has it stained me for the better or the worse?
I look around and picture Vietnam, in fact all of South East Asia, or even East Asia, with it’s rice paddies and conical straw hats, the stilted houses, and everything that all of this could ever entail. I see all of this as two things, one being amazing experiences, experiences unique to me which I get to enjoy the way I want. And secondly as my pane of glass. All of this is my shot at redemption. My chance to mentally right my own wrongs on my own terms and come to realize my own faults so I can better myself for the good of primarily myself and secondarily the people around me, especially those close to me.
Who am I? I’m a work in progress.