Emma's birthday bash, Auckland, New Zealand

I really should be updating more often…what a ride it has been over the last two months. Here is a little bit more of what has been at times a painful debrief, but overall is leading me (I think) to a much healthier place than when I was on the road…

In regards to whether I enjoyed my journey or not:

This was written about a month ago…much has been processed since then, and I’ll be posting that as time goes by.

I enjoyed some of it. Perhaps about 20% of it. The rest was just a heck of a lot of hard work. And overall, I did enjoy the interraction with people and grappling with language and communication (in retrospect). But gosh…it was hard work (the physical side of things). The freedom I thought I would find in the open road was a lie (at least for me). I can only recall one time when I felt totally free. It was when I crossed the China border into Kazakhstan. For about 20 glorious minutes I felt totally free. Total euphoria. And then the potholes started. And the headwinds. And the heavy loads. And the sandy roads.

So that’s about 20 minutes in 2.5 years.

The rest of the time I felt hemmed in. I felt a sense of purpose in that I was moving towards a goal and doing something hardcore, but my focus was so much on the goal, rather than on where I was at that very time. Always being pulled forward.

And then I achieved the goal. And it was a let-down. I left Japan alone. I arrived in Christchurch alone.

My journey, I believe, was based on a lie our western society feeds us that there is freedom in autonomy and non-committment. That there is freedom in aiming higher and higher and never allowing oneself a moment to relax and smell the roses.

Or something like that…

Perhaps there is some form of post-traumatic stress going on in my head at the moment. Perhaps this is the time where I look at my experiences harshly and critique them in a negative light. Perhaps I will soon come around and see the beauty in my experience…

But in any case, as someone who only experienced my journey through my blog, you need to be aware of one very very important thing: For every photo of me beaming with pride and joy and excitement, there were 50 photos that were never taken simply because I was too exhausted and shattered to even consider taking my camera out of the camera pouch.

I was given some interesting insights from a man who has travelled much…he had two comments about travel being like:

  • Just sniffing the cork of a good wine, whereas living in one place is like experiencing the whole bottle
  •  Just watching TV, whereas paid employment is like being an actor in the TV show

While these could be rather contentious comments, I guess you could say that I too have come to the conclusion that travel by itself can be an empty experience.

I’m sure that no matter where one is, it is how one chooses to percieve one’s circumstances that dictates how one will feel about one’s circumstances. I think I’m still in a stage of reconstructing a healthy perception of what it means to be human within community (living for others rather than for myself) rather than within an unhealthy state of autonomy. So far it is hard work, but I’m already sensing a better sense of wholeness…

Piha Beach, New Zealand

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5 thoughts on “Insight

  • Steve Ruelle

    Hi Rob, nice to hear from you again. I think you hit on a key point, that how you choose to perceive your circumstances matters a big deal in terms of how you feel about them.

    I think no matter what, I'll always be amazed at what you accomplished. It was my dream at one point to do an extended solo bike trip around the world and you've, in a sense, lived that dream for me.

    Yet at the same time, my comfort zone is maybe 2 months tops of solo travel. After that I want to get back into civilization, back into my job, friends, family, etc.

    I've found there is freedom on the road, in the sense that I enjoy most of the travels and it's a refreshing break from the job I do. After the trips are doing I'm rather satisfied.

    But maybe where you and I differ is I can't handle more than 2 months of this kind of living. The 'solution' that seems to work, is to have a job that enables a month or thereabouts of travel time where I can do shorter versions of what you've managed.

    Nonetheless I am still very amazed at your trip and you're more or less a hero to me.

  • Aunty Les

    There's no doubt about it we were created to live in relationship with others. I'm glad to see that you are discovering that life is meant to be savoured and enjoyed and it is certainly worth it taking lots of time to 'smell the roses'! After all, God created human BEINGS and not human DOINGS. Learning to 'be' first makes it so much easier to then 'do'.

  • ChrisJ

    Hi Rob,

    Great to see a new update and hear about your recent activities and progress.

    Having been let go from my last job do to the economic downturn I am now planning on heading back to the states in May.

    I am not looking forward to the "reverse culture shock", but your ruminations and experiences have given me some good leads on what to expect and watch out for.

    Don't forget about our little reunion in Hawaii in 2011!

  • Aunty Les

    Hi Rob, again. Has the book 'The Shack' by WM Paul Young come your way? It's worth a read, I think. On the back cover are these words: 'WM. Paul Young was born a Canadian and raised among a stone age people by his missionary parents in the highlands of what was New Guinea. He suffered great loss as a child and young adult, and now enjoys the "wastefulness of grace" with his family in the Pacific Northwest.' Nola and Robin Myles were staying recently and Nola was reading the book and read out bits aloud. However, even if I hadn't heard some of the bits in the book which really caught my interest that bit on the back cover would have made me buy the book and read it!