A solo journey through South America that will stay with me forever
In a year that was planned to be an adventure around the world, and exploring new places. I have found myself being drawn back to the wild, wonderful, wacky and neon clad country that is Japan. Something about this place catches my attention and peaks my interest. The various art installations and galleries on Naoshima, to the bright glow of Akihabara, and the stunning show that is the Arashiyama bamboo forest. Japan has something new to offer, new experiences like karaoke at 3 in the morning or a 55 minute wait for a plate of 30 Gyoza that was completely worth it.
There is a quality in the Japanese culture that is humbling to your core, the hospitality and pure interest in where you’re from what you’re doing where you’re going to a point where it starts to become creepy. Some of the things the locals wear, the various TV shows and advertisements that involve some sort of anime character eating at giant bowl of spaghetti on a sail boat all for a car ad. But all that ‘creepiness’ vanishes the moment you start to enjoy yourself, and it never comes back. Creepy becomes cute, weird becomes awesome and the wacky becomes the best thing you’ve ever seen in the world. You become immersed in the culture after only a few days and you feel like you were meant to be there.
You change and evolve into the person you want to be. I surrounded myself in the people and experiences I wanted based on what I felt most alive in. Not what felt comfortable but what I enjoyed. I learnt things about food, fashion and culture that you could not learn from reading or watching a documentary from your couch or bed. Things that need to be held, touched and felt in person. This was my first stop on a journey that would go on to shape who I am and everything that I would use to define myself in the future.
This year was the supposed to be the start of your ‘adult’ life. It was to be fraught with the struggles and stress of university with little relief and calm from the insomnia and instant coffee driven nights before the exams in high school, all while being told it wasn’t good enough. Your life was supposed to be defined by some number that you got from people pushing papers. Not that you have anything against people just simply doing their job, however to you that’s not what this time in a persons life should be like. You were not going to be defined by a number. You were not going to succumb and crumble into a pile of lifelessness in the corner of your room when they say it’s not going to work out based on a score you attained, while your attitude and personality of delinquency is closer to its peak than that of your own personal maturity. It may not go down the path they would be pleased with, but there is more than one path that leads to happiness and success.
Instead this year you have chose to live less according to a plan, but according to being in the places that you can truly come alive in. Being in the presence of people that inspire, astound, travel and teach. It’s been frosty mornings, long hours and rigorous financial planning, but you made it. You’re here, alone, bag on your back adventure on your mind and nothing except your imagination to hold you back. You are not bound by the restraints of work or the pressures of school and keeping up with the standards of society.
You have nothing to prove to anyone.
You’re young, lack experience and need to learn.
You need to learn about yourself and what you’re passionate about.
You have your whole life ahead of you and you should be damn proud that you’ve come this far and be surrounded by the friends you have made.
You have no life plan and that’s alright.
You are not restricted by what you choose to study and pursue now.
Your mind wanders as you stand at the threshold of adventure. Alone and at peace you step through and as you leave the part of the world you call home, a sense of accomplishment and relief comes down on you. You know you have everything you need, even though you just packed the night before like you always do. It isn’t the most efficient way to go about your travels but it feels comfortable and familiar to you, which is probably what you need at that moment as your about to step into the void of the unknown.
This is a new year, a new life. A life that has the potential to be inspired, shaped and moulded by your experiences, inspirations and adventures on this journey. It is unpolluted by the worries, woes and hardships of the last 12 months. There is nothing to be anxious about, except where the next inspiration will lead you, what adventure will you have next, who will you meet. And in those cases it’s more of a lust or a need than a worry.
Do not do things just for the sake of doing it, or just for the reason ‘they did it, so I’ll do it’. Do these things for you, do these things to a profound understanding of what you’ve done or it would have been for nothing. If you want to go help and volunteer in a community for 2 months you do that, but not for the praise and respect of your peers. But for the pure benefit of the people in the community and yourself alone.
And also, forget the money.
Money doesn’t define who you are as a person or how ‘wealthy’ you are. Money is an object, if you let money define your life then it will be a life filled with false happiness. A life shared is a full life, this venture is everything you needed. This is the truly most beautiful thing in your life right now. Take the time, feel the moment, feel your life and enjoy this adventure. It’s a Happy New Year after all.