I’m surprised when I think about how I was traveling in Cape town, South Africa a year ago. Reaching Cape town in May 2008 represented the finish line of my dream- traveling local transport from East Africa to the bottom of South Africa- one end of the continent! Yet, March- May I contemplated endlessly over my plans and what came next of my adventure. Should I extend my visa by paying the $50 fee at Home Land Affairs or cross the border for a few days? What about working? And meeting people? If I’m going to give a chance of staying in South Africa, I surely want to meet people and create a home base away from home, a community. Thoughts raced through my mind over and over. I can recall processing 10 steps ahead while on a gorgeous but strenuous 5 day hike. In the end, all my questioning and wondering seemed pointless because I never made it to step 2 before I changed course. I hung around Cape town, meet some locals but I realized I was burnt out and staying in a gorgeous country when my heart really needed to be home means I must go home. And home I went (after another month of exploring). Life has it’s ways. I learned the long way: over- thinking doesn’t make a decision easier, it just makes me more confused and a bit mental. A lesson for life, a lesson on the road.
On the road, I was always planning and deciding what came next out of habit and necessity. No one else was going to make decisions for me. I like having a general plan. I surprised myself while talking with my mom about my new jobs. When she asked, what’s my long term plan for work and where I see myself in a few years? I replied, ” I haven’t thought that far.” I wondered if I should know, have better response; a pla. But I felt calm and happy. For the first time in a while, I haven’t thought 10 steps ahead. I’m just going with what I’m doing and enjoying the moment.
Lucky me, I have the opportunity to do exactly what I want. I’m allowing life to lead me and it’s a satisfying feeling. I haven’t gotten ahead of myself and right now, I wouldn’t wish it any other way.
My journey in Africa inspired thoughts and realizations, which lead me to my work now and I know my current work will lead me further on my path of what I’m meant to do. Trusting and letting go. A difficult task yet powerful!
I didn’t make the connection of how my attitude of planning has c hanged until I talked with a friend on Skype (whom I met in Africa) who is teaching English in South Korea. She’s struggling with the variations of living in another culture with the added questions of: “What do I want to do with my life” and “what do I pursue when I return” equation. I can relate, I asked, struggled and fought the same questions while on the road. Traveling brings a level of uncertainty, awareness and realizations and it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and try to figure out what comes next when the travel or living abroad ends. I know I thought way too much about what came next and sometimes wasn’t allowing myself to be in the moment. Silly, really. In hindsight, I realize everything I experienced on the road has lead me to where I am now in my life.
I’m not worrying or thinking too much about something I can’t control. Occasionally, I think ahead but I remind myself everything will work out and money will be aplenty. Maybe, I’m not thinking 10 steps ahead because I’m so consumed with my new jobs or maybe I finally learned the valuable lesson to let things go and see what happens.