Part of deciding to do stuff is knowing when it’s time to switch gears and do other stuff. My hop-across-the-pond sojourn took me to six countries over a handful of months and I gradually started to think through what returning to my new home in Austin, Texas would look like.
It’s easy to operate within time and location boundaries when you have a set ticket home, but I’ve learned that open-ended travel presents its own unique set of obstacles. Also not surprisingly, adventuring solo can also be emotional at times with feelings running the gamut from loneliness to elation, and everything in between. Toward the end of my time in India, and increasingly in Nepal and Tibet, I began feeling excited about the prospect of bringing my nourished vagabonding outlook back home to see how it could enhance my life in Austin.
As eluded to in a prior post, when I left for Ethiopia I was feeling professionally spent after working in an unfulfilling corporate environment for years, and needed to hit the reset button. I really had no idea how I got where I was, but shit, it was not how I envisioned my life going down: miserable in a Dilbert cartoon office surrounded by equally as miserable people in matching Banana Republic button down blue shirts and belted straight-legged khaki pants, audibly counting down the seconds to retirement.
I set out to give myself whatever space and time I needed to cleanse my mind, purge residual negativity and re-calibrate. And of course do exciting stuff. Although my Type A-ness desperately wanted to plan next steps, I promised myself I would go with the flow in true vagabond style and cross bridges as they came. It turns out that either I got super lucky, or the approach was exactly what I needed. I’m going to go with the latter.
Vagabonding Insights and Outsights
Experiencing life in the moment (cliche, but it’s a thing for a reason) allowed me the opportunity to listen more effectively, absorb experiences more fully and deeply connect with myself. It removes dangerous external factors like validation, judgment, and obligation and replaces them with internal compassion, understanding and confidence. Not a bad trade if you ask me.
One of my proudest accomplishments abroad was my ability to separate the present from the future. Instead of worrying about next professional steps, I trusted that I would figure them out when the time was right. I’m usually neck-deep in some type of business book, magazine or podcast, but upon leaving North America I instituted a complete professional information fast. No reading, no listening, no thinking about it. Just trusting that your skills, experience and intelligence will get to the bottom of it when it needed to happen.
And you know what? At the most unlikely time it did.
While sitting in a hostel in Addis Ababa drinking a beer in the lobby, I got to talking with a group of PhD-types from various parts of Europe who were in Africa to research some sciencey stuff. Their English was impeccable, yet I had a hell of a time trying to decipher what they were saying, yet alone studying. In frustration, one of the scientists handed me his dissertation and I glanced over the executive summary.
Me: Oh, so you are studying deforestation levels linked to climate change in a national park here.
And there it was. A problem so many technical, scientific people face and one I could easily solve. Business start-up plan in the bag.
Bringing it Home
After ringing in the new year in Kathmandu, I came to the conclusion that no amount of travel and exploration would ever be enough. There would never be the perfect time to leave or come back. I needed to take my vagabonding lifestyle back to Austin knowing that it’s not about where you are, it’s about how you engage with the world around you.
After a milk run flight from Kathmandu to Austin via Lucknow India, United Arab Emirates, Dusseldorf Germany, NYC, Dallas, Austin, I touched town on North American soil. I felt energized and empowered to be home, and optimistic about the future.
The brilliant thing about vagabonding as a lifestyle choice is that you never get the Back from Vacation Blues. In fact, you feel just as curious and engaged about the possibilities at home as you do abroad. And for that reason I will continue blogging. Time to switch gears and do some other stuff.
BRB just doing stuff for a bit k?