A little over a year ago I quit my job, sold my car, got rid of all my clothes, and took my one-way ticket abroad. I would say that in all my travels over the years, nothing has felt like this. When you have no lease and no bills, you have true freedom. You can move about the earth as you please. Countries are not so much places as they are new pieces of you – of your soul. Your eyes and ears bear passage directly to your heart with each new experience. People pass through your life gracefully and you start learning to accept that nothing is forever – even more reason to indulge in the riches our small yet unfathomably spacious planet has to offer.
It’s really interesting for me at this point to realize that I’ve been gone for a year. I wouldn’t say that it flew by, nor did it drag. Week-long vacations fly by, work hours drag on for what seem like days. But this… this is something new. Sure, the spine-compressing bus rides throughout Southeast Asia can be grueling at their best and a day in one city will feel a bit blurred and hurried – but it’s not in the same way that days used to pass for me in my daily life. Without a set routine for more than a number of months, I would daresay that this is how life is supposed to feel. Not hurried but not slow. I don’t long for the days to pass as much as I don’t ever want them to end – but instead, there lies a calm acceptance that days simply begin and end perfectly and how they were intended to be.
There is a peace that comes with freedom. You see the ugliness, the destruction of nature, the corruption, the poverty, the sick. You recognize the beauty, the prosperity, the preservation of species and gardens, the happiness, the love. You know anyone can make a difference. You can be the difference. With freedom you have everything and nothing at the same time. It’s an odd yet refreshing sentiment.
I no longer wish to go on and on about my experiences. I know everyone has their own battles and adventures. Nobody is better than anyone else. I’ve come to realize that people agree and disagree, and I’ve made peace with this too. But from what I’ve seen on my tiny world journey thus far (fewer than 20 countries) we are actually not quite so different. You’ve heard it before, but I don’t think we could meditate on it enough: We are one.
A good friend told me that she reckons I’ve changed because of this journey. “You must’ve changed so much,” she said. I hadn’t thought about it at all! I tried to reflect and find what may have varied. I can’t tell you straight away what the differences are. I certainly still feel like me. In fact, I feel more “me” than I ever have in my entire life. This is what I was meant to do and how I was meant to live. Pursuing passions as they come brings the deepest joy one can experience.
Anyway, I wanted to post something about New Zealand. I wanted to talk about living in a van for two months straight in the dead of winter. I was going to make a list of things that are starkly different here in Vietnam culturally (from my experience). But instead, I write from my heart. This is what I felt like sharing, so there you have it. In closing, I will answer the question I get everywhere I go: “Will you ever return home?” I think I will visit someday. But I won’t be the same.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust