Half a year has gone by since I left Kansas. I’m still learning various currency exchange rates and the metric system, so still going strong (relative phrase).
Relativity is a fickle friend.
If I think on some of the travelers I have met—Liz and Hadyn in Assisi, who have been backpacking the world since summer 2016, Sara in Mostar, who traveled alone for three years, John in Fes, who has been biking around the world for the past six years—my little bench mark seems flat.
Then to swing to the other side: I think of all the family two-week trips that took ages to pack for, of all the one-month missionary trips my friends raised money for, the summer two-month exchange trips to Argentina I was so eager to hear stories about.
I get puffed right back on up, because relative to that, six months is a hefty amount.
Same goes for my second benchmark: this is my 300th blog post.
Relative to: Alastair Humphreys (1800 posts) and Seth Godin (7000 posts) = flat.
Relative to: my high school students whom I forced to create a blog (35 half-hearted, 16 eager-ish, 9 full-on) = hefty.
I’ve been imaging, for a while, what I want to say with this post—musing on life lessons from the road, what’s changed in my writing style, my goals for the impending future. But can’t stop myself from switching to a relativist perspective.
Is 6 months something to celebrate?
300 blog posts—is that even worth noting?
Will I sound too arrogant?
I went for a run early this morning, along the back roads of Western Auckland, switching my head torch off to scamper through star-lit roads. I thought about this post, what I was going to use it for. Was it going to be a way to market myself as somehow awesome? Was it going to be a deeply reflective piece that would encourage others to be like me? Was it going to be apologizing for pretending to be cool?
For a few miles, I decided I would pass over the mark entirely and just post a poem, maybe tack a “p.s.” on the end.
And then–because running gives space to think twice and thrice–I found that what I really wanted was to forgo relativity entirely, and write me. Me relative to me. I want to celebrate my mark for my own sake, and for the sake of closure with it.
So here goes.
Half a year away, away and a happy 300.
In six months I have learned:
- how delicious it feels to end each night with a round of yoga
- how vital running is to my soul-health
- that I depend upon unbridled nature and fresh air
- to drive a manual car on the left side of the road (also referred to as “the wrong side”)
- that authenticity is a privilege
- how terribly much I don’t know
Happily, in six months I have:
- read half of all Tarzan books Edgar Rice Burroughs has written
- mastered Celcius (work needs to be done on kilometers and British spellings)
- lost my taste for a big mug of coffee, in favor of little double-espressos (long blacks)
- been offered a loyalty card at the community cafe down the street
- become a student of the art of brunch-chefing (and Italian, Tongan, Thai, and Kiwi cussing)
- not shaved my legs (thanks, Indonesian modesty and New Zealand winter)
Unhappily, in six months I have:
- super itchy ankles (I spend too much time under trees)
- found that I, too, get scared of the unknown (and then bored of the too-known)
- not been able to run consistently
- passed through at least seven levels of self-doubt
- developed a weird sort of body-wracking sob when I get stressed
- not become less of a people-pleaser, nor mastered my emotions (huh!)
After 300 practice rounds, I am:
- surprisingly unashamed of the first bunch of posts
- becoming more sensitive to the flavor and texture that each word holds
- learning how to articulate my soul verbally (through recording poems)
- seeing what I care about, and what virtues I am drawn towards
- developing my own style of writing (although you can still tell when I’ve been reading Billy Collins’ poetry)
- extremely grateful to the little band of writers that grace the posts with their presence (looking at you poetryfromtheinkwell, shinyobjectssite, James, ELLE, and others: I notice, and appreciate deeply).
Recording poetry makes the poems stick in those crevices of my brain. So how much more fun to comb through the archives and uncover poems and posts which haven’t stuck, which I had forgotten issued forth from my soul?
It’s bizarre to read something you don’t recall writing, and feel that flush of, yes—that’s how I feel! Followed quickly by: duh, you wrote it.
So here we are, shout out to the little guys, the ones forgotten but ever relevant:
As it regards the “future plans and goals” shenanigans: I’ll stay in Auckland until end of December, then . . .
and leave New Zealand either next June or September to go to . . .
. . .
I do believe we are all caught up now.
And now, to conclude my memorializing–and to celebrate the 18-degree cloudless day–I shall take my book of Margaret Atwood short stories and bike to Starling Park.
They have excellent trees with the perfect groove for my back.
Peace and blessings,