Between finishing work and leaving for Portugal, I planned a few weeks of comfort and luxury, staying with my parents in Devon. I thought it would give me time to sort out any niggling details and continue to build my fitness. I didn’t consider the psychological effects.
Poor health and weather has meant I’m spending less time on the bike and more time ruminating. The abundance of time (in combination with my procrastinating nature) has meant I’m actually struggling to complete my pre-departure to-do list. I’ve been thinking more and more about what I’m doing and why, and I’m not sure it’s really helping, but I hope writing about it here will help me draw a line under it or at least provide a reference point to return to when I’m settled into something like a routine.
In the last few months, loads of people have told me they’re envious of my position. They wish they could jack it all in to follow a whim. I don’t regret my choices (I haven’t started yet!) but sometimes my situation doesn’t always seem as positively life-affirming as I’d hope.
It’s like the last year has been a slow process of deconstruction of my identity, and it’s nearing completion. I didn’t really anticipate how it would feel to leave a marriage, a house, a hometown, a job, a bunch of friends, and soon, my family. Who are you without those things? For most people (me included) they are the source of confidence, pride, security and a sense of self. What does it mean to give them up?
This surfeit of time has allowed me to dwell on my more tangible fears. The internet is an amazing resource for trip planning, but it can turn on you. My concerns haven’t changed, but now they are enriched with terrifyingly detailed true-life stories from victims of dog attacks, camping disasters and car collisions. Most days I feel optimistic and reassure myself that I’m a healthy and youngish man travelling around developed countries and there’s nothing to worry about. Other days I dwell on the fact that when you’re alone, even small problems can escalate in size and become seemingly insurmountable. The truth is probably somewhere in between and once I’ve started I can stop my hand-wringing and worrying and focus on actually doing.