A life unlived: why I keep running away from home

Cape Town

Cape Town

My biggest fear is that I will fail miserably at living my life.

I live in Cape Town. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I don’t think I could live anywhere else, yet in the last year I have barely been home. Whenever I recount my globemich tales of the wonderful and exciting places I have been and plan to go to, I am usually met with a mixture of impressive nods and jealous admiration. I relish in the well-prepared words to chronicle my tales because after all they make up the sum of who I am.

So imagine my surprise when I was asked why I was running away from my beloved city. Perhaps the best thing to do, would be to explain my thoughts on travel before if I am ever to address that.

I travel because I do not want to live a life of regret. One of the most universal regrets people have is that they didn’t travelled enough. Most people sit in their day jobs daydreaming about lives not lived, loves not experienced and missed adventure. We keep our worlds closed in tightly in case it ever falls out of our grasp and we lose control. We have become slaves to routine, calendars and devices tell us what we must do and when we must do it. Routines control our lives and we let it.

I travel because I fear the unknown. When ever I get into a new city the first thing I do is get on Google maps to find my way. Every time, without fail, I lose the direction the minute I step away from the wifi zone. So I walk and hope that I find my way. Generally what I do not know brings on a stressed anxiety that all but cripples me. When I travel, all I have is the unknown and every time I step out without a map or plan on where I am going, I chip away at the fear. I have never suffered an ill fate on any of my trips, I have never been robbed, I have lost many things due to my own negligence but not one of my fears has ever come true while I navigated the unknown. There is a deeper, sadder reality in the fact that we let ourselves be held back the fear of the unknown.

I travel because the world will no doubt forget me when these mortal coils are shed, but that does not mean I shouldn’t experience it. Society is full of people who sit and pontificate about the world without ever experiencing it. People judge entire nations and box societies in based on the carefully crafted words of journalists (yes, the irony is not lost on me) and the concluding thoughts of a few keystrokes. The world is a big and vast wilderness waiting to be explored. How can I truly know and understand anything if I don’t see and become part of it.

I travel because I am looking for something, a story to tell. A few years ago the pain that only loss can bring rendered me paralysed by the thought that the sum of my life could easily be quantified because I had not experienced a enough. If life truly is a journey surely it cannot be had behind a desk wondering what the adventures will entail. I will never experience all that is out there but I want to give it a good go. I am looking for the stories that exists in different parts of the world so I can tell it as honestly as I can.

I travel because other opinions matter more than my own. A few weeks ago a very interesting video about Facebook’s algorithm for regulating its Newsfeed and content seen by users surfaced. The author of the video talked about how Facebook systematically takes away things you don’t like and only keeps you in a world of your own making. Essentially Facebook only exposes you to people just like you, people with the same beliefs and thought processes. I want to be able to see beyond my nose. I relish the energy a good debate and a well-paced argument brings. The learnings that lie when two opponent realise that both have merit and walk away friends. The humbling pleasure of knowing you can, and often will, be wrong. The ostensible inspiration that comes when you learn something new from someone you couldn’t imagine could teach you anything.

I travel to run away. I am running a way from a life unlived, a dream deferred and a tragic complacency that would otherwise live me disappointed in my own existence. I am running away from home because I love coming back and I think I will keep running.

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