Leaving it all behind can be tougher than you think.
Almost three years ago, a friend and I made a pact. A date was decided upon when we would both quit our jobs and leave to travel Asia for a year. We agreed to make it happen no matter the cost, but we needed time to prepare, and three years would give us plenty of it.
Today, we’re only two months away from leaving. We have one way flights booked to New Delhi with a bonus five day layover in Seoul. After spending a month in India, we’ll meet up with a friend in northern India and cross the border into Nepal for over a month of exploring the Himalayas. After that our schedule is wide open to explore Southeast Asia and beyond. We really don’t know how long we’ll be gone for and two months from now we’ll be on our way. I feel like I’ve been waiting ages for this trip. It’s finally here.
My eagerness to travel, however, is met head on with hesitation and introspection. The closer we get to leaving, things seem to get more and more complicated. It’s not the logistics of travelling for an extended period of time that complicates things, it’s the lure of what I’m passing up by leaving. I have amazing friends and a great family life. I’ve spent a lot of my professional life refining my skills and building important relationships. Now more than ever before, I’m surrounded by business opportunities and the stakes are higher than ever. I’ve already left a lot on the table in order to make this trip happen and its been difficult to pass up.
For the past three years, I’ve been planning everything that I do around one very large caveat; that soon I’ll disappear for a year. That’s exactly the plan, to detach ourselves wholly from the machine, to live a year of our lives unhindered by rigid everyday structure. Everything is in place for it to happen. We have all of our gear to explore India, Nepal, The Himalayas, and beyond. We have our passports, visas, vaccines, and medication for the diarrhetic episodes that are sure to ensue. The one thing I feel unprepared for is leaving everything behind. Leaving family, friends and opportunities to go on without me. Leaving the lovely girl that treats me so well. Leaving the comforts of a first-world life.
Humans are creatures of experience. Without experience there’s no real understanding. Without turning on a light bulb, a person may have never understood why they might need it. Conversely, you have to take the light from a room for someone to become aware of how much they need it to accomplish anything. That’s really a big part of what this trip is all about. Because we really don’t know what we have, until we don’t have it. I pretend to be grateful and claim I’m lucky to have what I do, but in my experience, it’s not until the things that we hold dear are truly out of reach that we see them in their true light. Until I’m immersed in an environment that truly changes my perspective, I tend to take the simple things for granted, as we all do.
When I tell someone that I’m leaving on this long trip, the response is always the same, “Man… I would do that in a second if I could.” Sure, we all dream about traveling the world, but I think we have a naive assumption about what it would be like. We think our lives are too structured and monotonous, and we claim we would give it all up in a second. Really though, a lot of us are more comfortable, more attached and content in our everyday lives than we think. We claim that we just want to escape, but when it comes down to it, leaving it all behind can be tougher than you think.