Adapting to Change
Over the years my travel experiences, much like my life experiences have all been a tale of how I managed to adapt my ways to the change of things that are. Career, health, destination, budget, travel companions, love, vehicle, climate etc… the list is exhaustive! While the title tells you everything, I’ll be summarizing my recent adapting I’ve had to undergo in order to survive.
One of the biggest shockers, and yet not a surpriser: was that when I was leaving England for good. With 2 months notice, I made an event to all my near and dear to come and send me off. I think something in the order of 30 people accepted the facebook event and were coming. I’m not sure if it’s ironic, poetic, or just damn mean; but 4 people showed up. It was enough to convince me that I had very little to come back to England for. At the same time, it showed me 4 people gave a damn about me, maybe I shouldn’t dwell on the 26 flakey friends, but focus on the fact I had 4 people who cared enough to show up. Who wanted to know about my adventures and who wanted to wish me well on my new life!
From way back before I arrived in Mexico in 2015, I had already been fearing the biggest fear of all: “What do I do when this journey ends?” The truth is, I still had central America to cross and I was already counting down the time till I got gainfully employed again. I knew from that moment there, that I was no longer travelling. By that I mean I wasn’t enjoying myself, and most of all: I wasn’t free. I had fear; fear of how I’d survive.
I stopped in Mexico for some months to think about my objectives. Moving myself and a motorcycle across central America, has been done countless times. It’s not a big adventure if you think about it. What was worse if you thought: that I’d be doing it alone, and doing it for the sake of doing.
After I had cleared my head for some time. I decided I no longer wished (at that time) to continue with the rest of central America, this was a huge step for me. I was adapting to change, not because I couldn’t afford it, not because I wasn’t brave enough, not because I had health or vehicle issues. I simply didn’t want to do it, at that time.
I brushed myself off, forgave myself, and made a pro-active choice of where I ought to go. This wasn’t easy for me. I felt guilt for not achieving my goal, I also felt disappointment and like I was quitting on a dream. Package all that with a lot of self doubt and many known unknowns, the only thing I did know was: I knew I wasn’t presently enjoying myself. I put together plans to adjust to move to Spain. Reflecting upon it: I made a decision in April (after a year on the road) that by the end of August I’d be back in Europe living in Spain. This was kind a big step!
So those who know me well enough would know I’ve leant my hand to many careers and professions over the last 10 years. Things have never been so black and white for me. In summary I’ve worked in many areas from: a humble supermarket clerk, a university technician, a professional driver, a company owner as a photographer/web-designer, an architectural technician, an engineering technician a property guardian.
Life seems to spin me around in many fields and while, my parents criticized me for being fickle, hindsight; assures me I’d not want to change anything. I’ve had a wealth of experiences I’d never change. My more recent experience has been to adapt to my new found career in Spain as an English teacher. Much like the saying: “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink“; many of my friends over the years have suggested teaching English, and frankly, I’ve always shut them down with “Absolutely not! I hate kids, and I’m crap at English!“.
Little did I know, that I wouldn’t have to teach children, and better still, I earn more money and work less hours than in other jobs I’ve had to survive on. So, all round this career change hasn’t been a step down in any respect. I was having a coffee with a fellow teaching friend this morning and I expressed that I don’t think I’d want to retire having been a teacher all my life, but for now it serves its purpose.
My health has been a variable that’s been quite changeable; ever since getting a parasite or 9 in Africa that tore my innards out, or rupturing my spine lifting a photocopier machine, you certainly start adapting to change and understanding that I’m still a very fragile creature. It seems with the same given that we are so frail it also reflects upon us how much we do achieve! When I was being taken to hospital and unable to feel my feet or move my legs, I wanted to be thrown out of the back of the vehicle. I honestly couldn’t see the point in living. Yet, here I am 4 years later having achieved amazing things and in fact, a better and more conscious person than I was before I stupidly lifted a photocopier.
Love:- A little preface
If I were to say that I’ve sailed through life without suffering the pain of a love lost I would be lying. I’ve often wondered where I’d be, if I were more like my friends, settle down, with someone, someone who sees me as enough, who can offer me enough to keep my brain and body stimulated, I haven’t yet met such a person, every time I think I have found the one they either run off with someone else, turn out to be hiding huge emotional/mental issues or simply the path steers us apart. Alas my life has been a case of abusing my taste buds at the proverbial deli counter trying samples.
“‘Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all”
So if it were not for a little sense of sweet irony, with a set plan for where I was going to be going. I knew what I was going to be doing and had a clear idea what I had hoped to achieve while in the USA. Falling in love certainly was not on my agenda, I had zero romantic ideals, I wanted to do my motorbike thing with rock climbing, hiking and hoped for a parachuting license if possible…. and girls smell!
So to tell the tale that I fell madly in love with a girl I met on the road, would sound cheesy, maybe if not a little pathetic. If anything, I didn’t want that at all. It was way too complicated, overly confusing and a bit too much for what I was about to commit to, and yet, in Moab, I fell in love with a (smelly) mountain woman on a sports bike. It doesn’t make sense, and if you think about it, love never does. Until this point, much like to the point where I was driving south from Alaska, I had a clear-clear-clear idea of what I was doing next, then suddenly emotions and feelings and those wussy things you don’t account for, jump in the way and steer you away from your plans.
Again, life is about adapting to change and maybe we should embrace change, embrace the unexpected, forgive ourselves for not doing the things we set out to do. After all: if I had carried on living and working in London, carried on believing I had friends that cared for me, carried on in the same miserable weather…. I would have never travelled, never seen the magnificent things I have seen, and yet would never have fallen in love on the road. So I have to tell myself it’s not a bad thing I didn’t get my parachuting license, maybe in the future I go, take my parachuting license and surprise myself again with something else equally as wonderful.
Alas, my love story is not a happy ever after story. As with all, I had hoped it would! At my prime age of 36 and having been mostly single to this point, I kind of would like to be in some kind of stable relationship, albeit, someone I can share experiences with, count on to talk about my problems with, someone who can count on me to tell me her problems to, or just someone I could happily plan my next adventure with. Who knows? Sadly, this was not the one. And yet the pain remains, maybe more so this time around than others. It’s hard to say, as it came as such a surprise and filled me with so much hope and promise that I was totally swept away with no barriers or rationales to inhibit it from growing; yet in the wake of its destruction I was left utterly heartbroken and riling in the shattering reality that yet again I’d have to return to being that 30 something “adventure guy who never will find a wife” lol, maybe not the wife but certainly a companion would be a nice detail.
So, with that all out of the way, weeks and now months have passed and the pain still remains and much like mourning, as time passes it gets easier to deal with. I’m moving on, I started dating again, and frankly, that’s not for me. However, I’m making steps toward being OK with being alone again, and that is what is important! Being dependant on someone exposes you to many weaknesses if like in this situation you were not expecting to being left alone. Returning to zen where you’re contented with being alone with yourself is the goal this time around.
Adapting to change is effectively what humans, animals and plants have done from the beginning of time in order to survive and truly isn’t a big deal. And yet, at the same time, it’s enormous. My trivial elements I’m discovering for myself have been done a million times before and sure to be discovered all over again by some unexpecting soul along the way after me.