I hit the two-month mark of my around-the-world trip a couple of days ago and that anniversary has been on my mind. I’ve been thinking a lot about how things have changed for me in the past two months. Perhaps the most glaring example is that things that initially astounded are now commonplace. I don’t even blink now when I see a family of four on a motorbike, I am no longer intimidated by the thought of speaking with a monk, and it seems natural to find gilt-covered temples on every corner. Without having to think about it, I now throw my used toilet paper into the wastebasket rather than into the toilet (the septic systems in SE Asia cannot handle paper) and look first to the right when crossing a street rather than to the left.
I am most grateful that my health continues to improve. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and have had to buy smaller size clothes twice already. And carrying my heavy backpack around has given me back my strength. Three years ago I was so sick that I could not even pick up ten pounds, much less carry it up the stairs of my house. Now I am carrying a 25-pound pack up hundreds of stairs, lugging camera equipment to the top of temples or to scenic overviews so I can capture that ‘perfect’ photo. Best of all, the pain in my shoulder, neck and jaw is going away, little by little. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is not to be living every day in pain. Here I am, sitting at the restaurant at the Quarter Hotel in Pai, Thailand, waiting for the bus to arrive to take me back to Bangkok. I look much different from the day I started this trip – more relaxed, happy, content.
On the other hand, I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life. This trip is a lifetime dream for me but it is also a search for joy. I hope to find a way to spend the rest of my life doing what I love – traveling, writing, and taking photographs, rather than trudging along in a job for all the wrong reasons. Alternatively, I could discover something else that I love to do and make a career out of that. I have turned this over to the Universe and ask daily that I be shown the path I am supposed to take and that I recognize it when it is put before me.
There is, however, something that has been bothering me. As things have become more and more commonplace, I have had days where I am less happy and content. I’ve been asking myself if I am one of those people who is only happy when their brain is being stimulated by the new, the unfamiliar, the seemingly shocking. Then I wonder whether my need for stimulation is really my brain’s attempt to distract me from things I really need to be dealing with. Is there some deep-seated imperfection or flaw that I need to dredge up and examine and that I am avoiding by feeding my brain all this new stimuli? Most people will say I think too much. They’re probably right.