We’ve all had the experience…. A tiny thought, which you quickly set aside.
You busy yourself with “important stuff” when you’re actually just out shopping for stuff you only really need to plug that empty, gaping hole. It’s kind of like taking vitamins on an empty stomach. It burns and makes you feel sick.
But you’re tough. You can still ignore the feeling that it’s time to move on until it gets pushed down deep into your gut like a squatter that won’t move no matter how many charcoal tablets you throw at it.
You know your time is up. You have done all you need to do. The museums have been visited, the markets long photographed. And you can already navigate your way around the city by bike or foot.
And then one day, while you are just trying to enjoy your best blend of Vietnamese coffee at your favourite local, you suddenly can’t enjoy the moment anymore. So you ask yourself the all-important question: “Why do I have a favourite local?”
When did I become part of the establishment and not a traveller… an outsider, just passing through, here for but a moment in time?
So you start tracing the moment when you convinced yourself that you were “waylaid in a great place” when you were actually just plain stuck in a complacent rut, to lazy to move on. And you recognise this pattern so many times in your life. The times you resisted a move to a new city/job/career. When you held on to a relationship because you were just to damn scared of being alone, starting over, without a clue or (heaven forbid) a life plan.
And once again you ask yourself… why is it so hard to move on?
Because you’ve become comfortable and it’s so damn convenient.
I’ve been in Vietnam six weeks and it’s been great but I can feel that I am losing the intention if not my purpose.
My brain is so excited that after 6 weeks of struggle it can finally relax. I finally know enough of the language to make my daily search for food and shelter easy. I have a firm grasp of the money and I even understand the ironies and idiosyncrasies that make up any great country, even Vietnam. But my heart, she knows it’s not right.
Creativity doesn’t thrive in complacency. Just as my brain is excited for the ease of its days, my heart is sad for the ease of its ways. She has lost her spontaneity and excitement.
When I first arrived, I was Willy Wonker and this was my chocolate factory. But I have stopped taking photos and sometimes even noticing the textures, colours and sounds of the world around me.
I tell myself the light is bad or the rain is coming but the clouds hang high in the sky, just low over my horizon. And I accumulate stories of bad border crossings and cockroach hotels and find myself retelling them, like they were my own. Why? Because by turning my fears into experiences i might just have them confirmed by a nod or a murmur or a similar story. And then my fears will be justified and I can stay put and stay safe.
But you wanna know what scares me more…
I am scared that the many textures and colours blend into one bright white light that will one day blind me to see any hues of differences or similarities.
I am scared that I will want to upgrade my hotel room and downgrade my experience of everyday, ordinary life. I am scared that I won’t get sad over the bottled snakes and caged birds or annoyed by the propaganda megaphone that wakes me up at 7am every day.
And this scares me because I know that these things unseen things mutate and grow like cancer cells until one day I will be sick of, not with, life and won’t be open to delays and disturbances of any kind.
Yes, I am scared to be numbed and dumbed to the nuances life.
I don’t always choose to lug my case up the stairs. Sometimes I take the lift. I just hope that I always making a conscious choice for the day and life I lead.
So I listen to the squatter inside and I move on. And I know it’s going to be hard.
I am going to have to upskill, learn new words, money, scams, rhythms, smells, foods.
I am going to feel lost and disorientated I am going to look slow and stupid.
My new clothes wont fit in and I don’t want to stand out.
It’s high school all over again and I’m starting at the bottom.
My ego’s going to have to take one for the team. Because you know what, I didn’t sign up to feel comfort and have my ideas reaffirmed.
I signed on for the language and cultural barriers so I could get back to the basics of human communication.
I signed up for the bumpy roads so I could be jolted out of my comfort zone.
And the next town might be shit on the outside, which just makes me have to be the shit on the inside.
So get ready Muse, because life and Laos is about to shake you and remake you. Yeeehaaa. Bring on the wild wild southeast.
Musing on…to another zone…let’s hope it’s not too comfortable but comfortable enough.
(“just right.” isn’t that what goldilocks said?)