Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Idle Hours: Chiang Mai

The author of this post, being idle
The life portrayed on this blog is an edited version of my finest moments, the most poignant or exciting things I saw, felt, tasted, experienced. It is by no means an accurate image of my day to day life. Art does not always have to imitate reality, but I want to take a moment to discuss reality, specifically the reality of travel.

I am now exactly halfway through my trip through SE Asia. Having spent two months wandering through Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, Thailand, and Myanmar, I still have two months in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia left. Recently a friend of mine, who is also a writer, contacted me to ask about my trip. He is considering taking a year off to travel as well. I am by no means an expert of this topic, but I shared with him what I have learned thus far.

Just because you're not working 40 hours a week (for example), does not mean you have 40 more hours of creative productivity each week. At least in my case, I can be lazy as hell when given the chance. I can give my morning up to sleep, wake up at noon, visit the same cafes and restaurants I know will be good, and never venture further than five minutes from where I live. I can even spend all day without even leaving the room. Can, and did.

Unless you are really into doing touristy shit, unless you have a giant bucket list of things to do,  your day to day life aboard will likely not be that exciting.  There will be many idle hours. I'm not saying you’ll be bored. Just because you’re not doing anything doesn’t mean you’re bored, but what I am saying is that not everything you do will be interesting, photogenic, or Facebook-worthy. Long term travelers know this. They don’t look for things to do, they look for places to be.

Before I left, I had this inflated image of myself as an "adventurer" or an "explorer." After two months on the road I can definitely say that the only "adventure" I've been having is an internal one. The only "discoveries" I am making are about myself. I don’t buy into the concept of “finding oneself” through travel. I didn’t I come here to find myself. I came here to lose myself. I was so teathered to a system, a structure, an identity, a job, and a label. How do I look without these things? Can I still love myself without them? If I can cast them aside, all of them, and still love myself and my life, then nothing scares me. Then I should not be afraid of losing anything ever again.

In my response I complained to my fellow writer-friend about  the idle hours I face here in Asia. My lack of productivity, my fear of wasting time, my days of indecision and purposelessness. He responded beautifully, the only way a fellow writer and adventurer would:

“You are an artist,” he said. “Your whole existence is art. There are no lost moments.”

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