Finding inspiration as we hurtle towards our departure date

As the countdown clock on our front page likes to remind us, there are now only 3 months to go until the wheels leave the runway and there is just so much to do between now and then. Some days the sheer number of items on our to-do list can be overwhelming, but as Mem reminds me, it’s just a matter of ticking them off one at a time and eventually the slate will be clean.

Not that the anxieties have come anywhere close to surpassing the excitement and giddy exhilaration that the mere thought of traveling evokes. Every day, at any given moment, I’ll find myself daydreaming of a prospective experience, location or flavour from the journey to come and a thrill of anticipation will light up my nervous system for an instant.

As Frost points out in his seminal poem, The Road Not Taken, “…way leads on to way“, and one can find no better example of this than when considering how the imagination behaves when stimulated by thoughts of travel. The memory of a night spent bar-hopping in Sevilla, following the echoes of guitars and a throng of clapping hands, leads on to thoughts of walking el Camino Primitivo as it winds its way through the hills and valleys of Asturias.  I snap back into reality to realise 15 minutes have gone by and I’ve either reached my destination, or spend the last quarter of an hour staring vacantly out the window. Either way, my motivation to get things done and make sure we’re ready to depart on time is only fuelled by these moments.

This week, a friend (thanks Matt) put me onto the book Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. I had a brief look at the website affiliated with the book, then immediately signed up to Audible.com and bought it. Vagabonding: all about the whys, hows, wheres and whens of long-term travel – journeys that transcend tourism, an intersection where travel becomes life, not just a temporary escape from our everyday routines. The following definitions of the title are given in the book’s introduction:

Vagabonding (noun)
1. The act of leaving behind the ordered world to travel independently for an extended period of time.
2. A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasises creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance and the growth of the spirit.
3. A deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible.
– Rolf Potts, Vagabonding

All three of these encapsulate our impending journey perfectly. At least, that’s how I see it. We’re giving up a comfortable, sedentary life and going traveling for as long as possible; we’ll be maintaining a deliberately simplistic, minimalist existence; and both of us are looking to this journey as a means to ignite our creative spirits.

The book itself is not very long and it took only two trips into town for me to listen to it in full. But it’s so full of insight, so concentrated in wisdom and so saturated with inspiration that I’m sure that this is only the first of many listens. Potts’ s writing style is, I guess, as deliberately spare and utilitarian as the way he packs his bags on the morning of departure. Yet he still manages to light up the listener’s imagination and inspire the prospective traveler to get their shit together and get out on the road before their time runs out. It will become, in a post-modern digital sense, an extremely well-thumbed volume.

One passage that really caught my imagination and set my feet itching was something like “Vagabonding starts now. Even if the practical reality of travel is still months or years away, vagabonding begins the moment you stop making excuses, start saving money and begin to look at maps with the narcotic tingle of possibility”. Once you start believing that you’re going traveling, and you’ve started planning for the trip, your vagabonding journey has already begun.” So effectively, we’re already on our way – all that’s left to do is everything!

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