I woke up in Amsterdam and now I'm somewhere over the Atlantic on my way home. I started this journey by asking, "What am I'm doing?" but now I'm wondering "How did I do it?" The past week has been nothing but a blur and as I return home I am reminded of why I left.
I've mentioned several times the purpose was to write my fifth book. That didn't happen, although this journey has been about 1/5th of a book so it was not in vain. Furthermore, and more importantly, his trip was to avoid the trap. The trap? I booked this trip three days after breaking with my girlfriend and I couldn't allow the routine of misery to set in. That's what happened last time. Yes, the experience I tell of in my presentations and wrote about in the chapter, "Emily," had more circumstances than just that, but change is difficult and 19 months is a long time. I learned a lot in those 19 months but the initial sense of loss, even though I initiated it, was difficult.
Had I not done this journey, I may have become stuck in second guessing myself. That's what happened with Emily and a long time has passed since then, but I am an over analyzer and without getting away and pushing myself to exceed my boundaries I may have become trapped and gone back to the depths that I live in years ago.
That's what's on my mind now as I stare out the window into the seemingly infinite horizon with the seemingly infinite Atlantic below. What I learned this past week is that I am stronger than I've ever given myself credit for. The few people I talked to on this trip were astonished that I would dare travel abroad alone, much less to a place I had never been. But that's the thing; I needed that challenge. Now I'm not suggesting everyone do this. I had confidence in my abilities to cope, and if I hadn't had the previous experiences traveling with my dad abroad this trip would have been foolish and would have been way over my head. Was it still a challenge? You bet it was.
I stare out into the world outside again and know that there are an infinite number of possibilities in the future. The last time a breakup happened I isolated myself and accepted the fate of hopelessness. Since I believed that, I could not experience hope because what's the point if failure is the guaranteed outcome?
There's new passion within me now. I don't know how many times I've used that sentence in my near 1,200 blog posts, but it remains true. Also, my passion for storytelling through writing has returned. Writing had become, well, I wouldn't say dull or boring but it became a chore because I just haven't had anything to write about or to share that excited me. That, and I'm sure the relationship issues, were wearing away at my ability and desire to express emotions. And this leads me to what I've learned.
What did I learn on this adventure? First, as mentioned, I realized I'm stronger than I ever imagined. I've also learned more things about the fourth wall and myself than I ever could have hoped for on this journey. I knew I'd learn a little, but my observations of the culture and my willingness to try eye contact to illicit a response of any kind was far outside my norm. I haven't pushed my boundaries this far since my sunglasses experiment. I'm also more confident in the decision I made with my relationship.
It's weird to think I'm going back home today. I woke up on the other side of the ocean and now I'm going back home. The week ahead for me is filled with an assortment of presentations from at college, to training police officers, to a department of the state government, and a week from today (remember, this blog is being written in the current but will be aired shared later) I'm working my first race of the year in Tucson.
As I told the men at dinner at the soccer game, "I couldn't have imagined living just 5% of my life if you'd have told me six years ago I’d be doing what I'm doing. Six years ago I was unemployed and never could have dreamed of being able to afford any sort of trip anywhere much less Europe." And considering that statement, I will be landing almost an exact week from when I left and I can assure you I wouldn't have believed I'd have done the things, seen the things, handled getting lost after midnight in the streets of Amsterdam as well as I did, and learn more about people and myself in just these 167 hours if you'd have told me I would have.