The car is moving at 50 miles per hour. The window is open. My hand glides through the air. There are rings on my fingers. My friend has an old iPod that accompanied him all over the world. It is his gem. We listen to Noah and the Whale.
It is 36 degrees outside. The car is overheating. We do not want to blow the engine, so we drive slowly, much to the disgust of everybody else on the highway. We do not care.
We are driving towards home. There is no rush, it is not going anywhere. My friend is reluctant to go back. He just became an engineer, and he needs to start working soon. He is not happy about that.
We talk about what travelling means for us. He tells me tales about tramping through South America. We come to a mutual consensus that planning is overrated. Adventure is found in the unknown.
He tells me a story. He started travelling in Chile after finishing his university there. He decided that he wanted to go to a city in southern Chile. He was picked up by a stunning woman headed in the same direction. Instead of going to his original targeted city, he went with Valentina. That was her name. To this day, the most intense romantic and painful experience of his life.
Journeys where we are guided by randomness, really make the best stories. We are in a weird emotional state of nostalgia—longing for something that is both behind and in front of us.
The topic shifts to regret. How stupid decisions sometimes show us most what we really want. What we do not want.
Mistakes, for me, often equal profound personal discoveries. I learn through failure. And, oh boy, do I fail a lot.
I think I have had a crisis on every continent so far. Bribing the police in Africa. Being chased by yakuza in Thailand. Driving straight into Australia’s biggest hurricane ever. Overdosing in Columbia. Losing all my credit cards in Cambodia. I could go on for hours.
Every time I thought I messed up to the point of no return, life continued anyway. I believe that real understanding comes through failure. Something that I never shied away from, and to this point, it has been everything but boring.
Last night was our last night. Because of the thunderstorm, there were no clouds all day. The chances of experiencing another starry night were high. What I did not expect was a profound spiritual experience.
After another day of canoeing, we exhaustingly arrived at our final camping spot—a hill in a forest where we could oversee the calm lake. The floor is covered with acorns. Since I have no sleeping pad, I know I am in for a rough night.
I need to write. So I get away. I walk away from my friends. I get the canoe and paddle to the middle of the lake. Alone. I can let my guard down.
Nobody is here. I stop paddling. The lake becomes a mirror. I start writing.
I think about my journey. I feel the emotions of strange wistfulness about upcoming events.
The people I travel with were a couple of strangers just a few days ago. In this short time, we created a temporary place of warmth, friendship, and contentment.
It is too quiet. I hear only my heartbeat. It is too loud. I do not like it. It sounds like a clock. I am weirded out by my own urge to get away. I wonder why I feel most alone when I am with everybody. I seem to have an inexplicable urge to push people away. Close friends, people I love even. My anxieties bore me.
I wonder how many people right now are having the same thoughts. Seeing the same thing. Living the same life.
The sun turns golden. I want to head back. I am hungry. I paddle back to the shore. We eat on top of the small hill. We are entertained by the sunset, passing over the calm lake., slowly vanishing behind the acorn forest. We eat pasta. For the 4th day in a row. It is starting to get dark. We light a candle, and my friends drink beer. We laugh and make memories.
We decide to sleep at the lake today, counting stars and talking about life. We move our sleeping bags to the footbridge next to our canoes. We cuddle and wait till it gets pitch black.
As the sun goes down, the moon comes up. I am a city kid. I always loved watching the stars. In the city, however, you barely see any.
As we lay there together on the wood of the footbridge, stars appear everywhere. Our head is just at the edge of the wood of the lake. We can see the entire Milky Way. The thunderstorm of last night took all the clouds with him it seems. We see satellites passing over our heads. Mars is blazing with a red flash above our heads.
Showers of shooting stars journey through the sky. We make countless wishes. They will all come true. One of the girls says that this trip changed her. I agree. They asked me what I wish for; I told them more muscles. They think I am joking. I am not. We talk about where we would want to be in a year from now. I say maybe, Harvard. Instantly, I regret using the word maybe.
My friend says that in one year he wants to be happy. I think that happiness is overrated. He gets up and pees in the lake. We laugh. The moonlight shines on his chalky behind. Mosquitos are having a feast. We fall asleep anyway.
I am in doubt whether or not my journey of becoming a wandering psychologist will be successful. I know, however, that I will do it anyway. I have no plan B. Plan B’s are for wimps. I am not a wimp. Only sometimes.
As my eyes close, I think about a question. If I could make my dream come true right now, would I do it? Would you do it?
I want to finish today’s post by borrowing the words of Allan Watts. As always, thank you for reading and following me on my weird journey.
Let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream you wanted to dream and that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time, or any length of time you wanted to have.
And you would, naturally, as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfil all your wishes. You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each, you would say “Well that was pretty great”. But now let’s have a surprise, let’s have a dream which isn’t under control, where something is gonna happen to me that I don’t know what it’s gonna be.
And you would dig that and would come out of that, and you would say “Wow that was a close shave, wasn’t it?”. Then you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further- and further-out gambles what you would dream. And finally, you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today. Alan Watts