The best laid plans of mice and men… well, leave it to me to find an excuse to make them go awry. But let me start at the beginning: last christmas I got my brother a book called “Grand Adventures” (I think the title says it all). Even reading through the excerpt shown on Amazon, I had the feeling that I’d rather keep that one for myself. When it arrived, I started reading through it and after the first few pages, I decided ‘That’s it – this is what I want to do!’
For clarification: “This” means doing some crazy, multimonth (99 days sounds cool, doesn’t it?), all-by-myself, adventure inspired trip.
So I quit my job (I was working in a callcentre – so nothing to hold on to) and started dreaming. Would I go by bike, hitchhike or even just walk? Where would I go? The thing that got me going was the fact that the book made it seem so simple, so I wanted to do something really uncomplicated (and cheap – the only cash I’d have would be my last salary plus whatever I made selling some of my stuff).
After some soul-searching, I decided it would be best to walk, start somewhere south-ish (I landed up on Aix-en-Provence) and hike towards Pompeii, Italy (because, you know, standing on a volcano is just a badass way to end a journey). Oh, and of course I’d take a 2,7 Kg strobe unit, a heavy duty lightstand to go with it and a lightformer (or two?).
Fast forward a month and I spent way too much money on way too much gear, got to my senses and ditched the strobe, made some brave comments, watched my confidence plummet within the last week, realised I hadn’t packed anything one day before leaving and missed the train on the due date (for the record: that was 09/02/2017, 07h37). Dammit.
Now, here’s the thing about me and failure: I can keep a straight face, ignore it even, but in the end, it gets to me – especially when it’s not for a reason that is obvious and acceptable (“acceptable” in this case means that this reason is universally recognised as a valid excuse and does not reveal too much of my emotional landscape). Add to that cocktail of suppressed emotions a melange of Netflix, pointless procrastination and some hectic activity to divert observers from the fact that I’m all but ready to give up and you end up with my self respect hiding away in the far corner of a disused basement room. <<
Time to be honest with myself: I might have pretended to be fearless, but there are actually one or two things about that journey that left me scared shitless.
One: Once I was ‘out there’, there would be no couch to kick back on, no Netflix to put on, no door to close to the world. When things want to go wrong in that environment, they will do so right now and it would be up to me to fix them. As terrifying as that sounds, there is a voice in the back of my head – a voice I have learned to hide away and ignore – that tells me that this is just raw creativity with all the procrastination and excuses stripped away. And that is just why the thought of adventure appeals to me in the first place, isn’t it?
Two: Be it just for directions, for couchsurfing, hitching the occasional ride or helping me out in an unforeseen situation, I would have to depend on strangers during the journey. That means actively engaging them, asking for their help and having almost nothing to offer in return.
Still, admitting that is one thing. Actually doing something about it is hard. Thankfully, my friend had the idea to do a day-trip to Normandy to get me back on my feet. So since I don’t yet have any “Grand Adventure” photos to show, here are a few images from that day:
After that and some pervasive (and irritating) refusal to just let me forget the whole damn thing, I was starting to think about smoothing out some of the logistical errors that had tripped me up before (read: lighten up my pack). And, of course, where would I go? Aix-en-Provence had the unpleasant ring of misery at that moment, so no way I would go there.
And this is where I am right now: still not entirely convinced it’s such a good idea, but ready to start doing a “Tour de France” by hitch and hiking (excuse the pun).
Let’s hope the stubbornness pays off. After all, it would be a shame to let all that fine gear go to waste. “These boots are meant for walking and that’s just what they’ll do” – the rest of the lyrics might not apply, but damn right you are, Ms Sinatra, damn right!