In September 2014 I’m embarking on a three-month bike journey through Asia. I’ll be passing through parts of Japan, China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. I’m traveling alone, with a folding bike I found on Craiglist. To make this trip possible I have saved up, left my job, and spent many hours riding, fussing, and learning about my bike.
As I’ve dug into bicycle components and route maps, I’ve also been getting cozy with my expectations, aspirations and fears. Many people have asked me why I’m doing this journey, why I’m doing it alone, why I didn’t just take a sabbatical instead of leaving my job, what I’m expecting to get out of it.
I don’t have satisfying answers to those questions, but I am beginning to understand why Rilke said to “live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Let’s be real. I’m doing this trip, first and foremost, because I can. This is the first time since I started scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins at age 14 that I don’t know where my next paycheck is coming from — but I can afford to not worry about it. I’m lucky to have the means to do this trip. If you’ve ever clawed your way out of debt, then you know what I’m talking about. If you’re working to pay down debt and save money, stick with it.
I’m also doing this because its a little terrifying to not have a job for the first time in 20 years and if I didn’t have some kind of mission, I might lose my sh*t.
I’m also doing this because the scary, unfamiliar and challenging places in life are often where you discover beauty and truth.
And I’m doing this because I’ve grown attached to the identity that my work has given me, and I want to create a little breathing room around that. I want to see what happens when I step away from that identity for a time.
In the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the year of the horse. According to Wikipedia, the year of the horse is characterized by “energetic and financial volatility and impulsiveness, including taking on various new projects with variable success, and borrowing and spending money.”
That sounds about right, doesn’t it?