On being myself
I am aware that recently I have spent more time writing about what happens inside rather than outside of myself. I wish I could share some epic traveling tales with you but the truth is that, for now, the worthy writing material is found within.
There is much to be learnt merely by observing how one goes about doing things. The way that I prepared for this expedition was as always to look for the path of least resistance, trying to focus on what I deemed essential for success. And for the rest, I would just wing it. It seems that I do not like hassle. I try to simplify in an attempt to avoid the stress that results from having to carefully deal with all the details. While this has helped me in the past, I feel that this time it has worked against me. A self-reliant overland trip across Africa requires more serious planning and preparation than my previous trips. I will keep this as a learning that I need to take every project seriously and carefully prepare. I like to do things differently and when it works I’m satisfied with myself. When it doesn’t, I blame myself, convinced that the cause for it not working is having done things in my own particular way. To say that it is working does not merely means being able to connect the dots on the map but also being able to enjoy the time spent doing so. It appears that Explore Beyond Limit has become more about breaking through the limits of my own mind than geographical boundaries.
I was literally biting my nails in Yazd, pondering every day the different options to continue, or not, towards Africa with the Duster when I stumbled upon VOYAGE #07 - Out of Africa newsletter by Nick Jaffe. I had found Nick on the Internet long ago and I cannot explain why it came back to my mind at that particular time. The newsletter tells about how he had to resort to shipping is Land Rover back home from South Africa to Australia due to the pandemic. And eventually come to peace with giving up his project of driving from Cape Town to Nordkapp. I was fascinated and extremely inspired by Nick. I checked each page on his website, watched his DO lectures talk on YouTube twice, re-read about his feat of sailing solo from Europe back to Australia and found out about the short documentary that was made about it. Immediately, I bought the pass to the film and decided to make my last night in the hostel a movie night (once in a while when I’m in cities I go to a hostel to take a shower and meet other travellers). I felt full of admiration for Nick and incredibly inspired watching the movie. Then I promised to myself I would buy his book on my kindle as soon as I get a hand on my Amazon account. And more importantly, read it. Reading a book written by someone around my generation is something I never do preferring to invest my time reading some Jack London, Moitessier, Monfreid or discover other accomplished writer I haven’t yet read. I should probably do it more though because these young authors are the ones evolving in the same environment than I am. The following days, I listened to an insightful podcast interview of him, subscribed to his newsletter, watched the sailing documentary a second time and so on – you get the idea. That’s how curious I get when I finally find someone with whom I feel proximity in the way our minds work and who appears to be successful at living life on his own terms.
I caught myself wanting to be Nick. And the more I learnt about him, the more I realised that I am not Nick. Nick is a doer with an entrepreneurial spirit. He seems much more industrious and able to connect and attract the right people than myself. While it seems that we both are seeking something similar in the world his character and mine probably differ by large amounts. This is about being Marc and not being Nick. I am ready to acknowledge where I am and work from there. But the questions remain: Who is Marc and what does Marc want? Why is it that Marc feels pulled to throw himself at great challenging adventures like sailing around the world while at the same time being occasionally swarmed by doubt. Wouldn’t a life with a few faithful friends, a partner to share good times and the opportunity for regular physical activity be a more reasonable endeavour? Well, maybe Marc wants too much at the same time, the friends, the lover, the adventurous life. I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes it would be nice to have a friend like Nick around. Or feel like the adventure I threw myself into is bringing me what I need to progress toward a fulfilling life. In my defence, I do believe that there are real reasons why I might be struggling to enjoy this part of the trip. After all there is not so much fun to be had crossing borders in the Middle East during pandemic times. Even if German overlanders go at it like child in a candy castle – in my opinion they are overplaying it (wink). As well as chasing shipping quotes from Arabic lands to eastern Africa or the occasional crawling in and out of a car by a park’s parking lot feeling like a hobo. Anyway.
From Nick’s Goodreads page (checked that one too), I picked up one book that struck me as appropriate: Letting Go - The Pathway to Surrender by David R. Hawkins. A core idea at the beginning of the book is that it is the accumulated pressure of emotions that generate thoughts. According to the author, one repressed emotion could generate thousands of thoughts. After reading a couple of chapters that day, I decided to practice letting go. It goes a bit like “it’s okay if it happens, and it’s okay if it doesn’t”. That day I didn’t think too much about my situation and did not try to solve anything. What ensued was a full day of connecting with people around me. I did not worry about a thing. I was fully present in each conversation. Of course, at the end of the day, I still had to find a way to either continue forward or go back before my visa expire. And if forward, how. And if back, what to do then. But I felt relieved and I could totally see how letting go could help. Having a freer state of mind and more energy would ultimately help more than trying to think through every problem to exhaustion. It is not as easy to put into practice as it seems but I will surely keep reading and practicing letting go. On a final note, here is an excerpt from a poem I came upon. If you can stay, stay. Leave, if you must.
Amer savoir, celui qu’on tire du voyage !
Le monde, monotone et petit, aujourd’hui,
Hier, demain, toujours, nous fait voir notre image
Une oasis d’horreur dans un désert d’ennui !
Faut-il partir ? Rester ? Si tu peux rester, reste;
Pars, s’il le faut. L’un court, l’autre se tapit
Pour tromper l’ennemi vigilant et funeste,
Le Temps ! Il est, hélas ! des coureurs sans répit