Friday, 29 February 2008

An Itch You Can't Scratch

I am feeling impatient. Five weeks seems like a long time in a job you have no passion for and a city you're eager to escape from.

I'm pretty anxious too and finding it hard to relax or concentrate, even when cycling. It's as if I'm waiting for test results. I think that's to be expected. Fear of the unknown mainly. I also blame the vaccines, vast quantities (well alright small vials) of which are flowing round my system. These must also have something to do with the mild flu symptoms and moodiness I'm experiencing.

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Hep A, Typhoid, Hep B (3 doses), Rabies (3 doses), Japanese Encephalitis (3 doses). I haven't even started on the Malaria tablets.

That's a lot of nastiness. Still, better this than getting really ill while I'm away I suppose. Clever chap that Edward Jenner.

Friends tell me not to bother planning the trip too much. 'Wing it' they urge, 'you won't know what you want to do til you get there', 'It'll be amazing what ever you decide to do'. Hmmm....that may be true but right now as I face the prospect of being jobless, of no fixed abode and in countries where communication will be tricky to say the least, all I want to do is 'sort stuff out' and conquer the anxieties I have about even those things which are beyond my control.

Here are a few of those concerns in brief (can you tell I'm enjoying my lists?):
  • falling out with/being abandoned by my travel companion

  • sourcing vegetarian food

  • looking like a banshee ( as a result of not having my regular maintenance tools to hand)

  • not being able to exercise (exercise being my chief mood regulator)

  • being bored

  • finding a job when I get to Oz
  • not liking Australia
  • not being able to support friends back home
  • feeling lost (in a physical and emotional sense) - or is this the point of travelling?

Tush. Trifling worries you'll say. Anxiety's not such a bad thing anyway. Indeed, I have long been aware that, together with fear and frustration, it can often be the "hand maiden of creativity” (T.S. Eliot), or a catalyst at any rate and if I'm honest, I will probably always find something to worry about regardless of how happy or fulfilled I am, such is my habit...

and Winston Churchill's it seems:

“We have a lot of anxieties, and one cancels out another very often.”

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Tuesday, 26 February 2008


Hello. If I don't start writing this blog now, just go for it, I never will.

Having procrastinated for all the years since I left university, filling up countless notebooks with my scribbles and thoughts and half-formed plots, waiting for the right moment to organise my words into a novel, worrying about style, form, plot, aphorisms, or worse, solipsism and the fact that what ever I say has been said before a hundred ways anyway, now seems as good as time as any to crack on.

In fact, this is a perfect time as I am soon to be leaving my life in London behind to go on an adventure. I don't expect to 'find myself' or 'get happy' or realise what on earth I really want to do with the rest of my life but it will be a good start and hopefully a lot of fun.

On Saturday 12th April I will kiss my trusty bicycle (and my mother) goodbye and set off from my frenzied patch of South London heading first to Japan, then South East Asia, then China, ending up in the place I once called home, Australia. What I do when I get there aside from visiting family remains to be seen. But I'm not worried about that, just yet.

There's much to sort out before I leave. My 'Do To List' seems longer each day:
'Get Chinese visa, lodge Oz passport, jabs, insurance, storage, switch bank and phone accounts, book hostels, open new ISA, Japanese Rail Pass, take clothes to Oxfam, redirect post, set up online Tax Return etc. etc.' Not to mention all those I intend to catch up with for one last time, friends who have overwhelmed me with their encouragement and travel advice.

Soon however, there'll be only one reference point, or rather three large Lonely Planets. In little over a month just getting from A to B (without getting lost, sick, bitten, kidnapped, robbed, arrested etc.) will be my chief concern and I can't wait.

I have talked about being in a rut for a long time now, probably boring loved ones to that effect. I'm not unique in carrying numerous fears, anxieties, frustrations and feelings of guilt around with me. It would be inhuman not to. Now though it's time I shook everything up a bit. Let's see what happens.

And now a poem (well this is a blog)

'The Journey'

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. (Mary Oliver)