A life unlived: why I keep running away from home

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.

A passport doesn’t show you the world, means and desire does

Visa image

While many, many people will have you believe that seeing the world is everyone’s right and that those who don’t use that right are plain wasteful, I am here to tell you it is all false. I once heard somewhere that being in possession of a passport meant that the world is your playgorund and you can now play in it. True as that may be is not all the way absolute. Yes a passport gives the freedom and license to see the world but it does not give you means.

Greenbacks, muchos dineros. Money. Seeing the world is an expensive luxury and unless you have the means to do it, you won’t. There are many ways to explore our beautiful planet cheaply but without capital to get from point to point be, own a passport is pretty much useless.

I read an article once that challenged the non-travelled and questioned their excuses for not expanding their horizons, issues of work responsibilities, loan repayments and a family to take care of. These are not trival things, and are worth the consideration that people give them. However, as an avid traveller myself who is perpetually broke and in Constance wait for payday most days it worth single digit bank balance when I think of the things I have seen. I can get by this week on noodles because last week I took breath at the top of the Empire State building, it’s ok that I can’t enjoy a nice dinner out or that my electricity may be running out because in three days time I will wake tranquil waters of Fiji. At times like that it makes sense to me that my 20-something years were spent meeting new people and learning the way of the world from its citizens, while still living paycheck to paycheck.

“I just can’t afford it right now,” a friend once said to me. Perhaps, but the desire to see the world is a magnetic pull that never lets up. Ever since he was a child my father had always wanted to see the Alps, after reading about them in a book, the minute he had the means he found his way up there.

Having a passport will not show you the world, it will give the freedom if you have the means to go the rest of the way. So go forth and airport hop.