Do something every day that scares you

The more I’m trying to work on my travel writing, the more I feel like I’m scaring myself silly. Which is a good thing. I know that I have a lot of work ahead of me. Hell, right now it feels impossible to even get someone to respond to an email, much less setting out on some long press trip. In many ways it feels like something someone else would get to do and I would listen, just drooling about the whole experience. And they would probably just complain about how dirty a city was or that it’s hard to get a drink with ice in it in Europe.

I begin with daydreaming.

If you can begin with a dream, then you have a goal, and you can work towards a goal. That’s how I work anyway. That’s how I was able to go to London nearly two years ago. Tonight I was looking at Google Maps and just seeing the green of the UK and the hedgerows and the way cities were laid out made me miss my experience. Jeez, I could FEEL what it felt like to see those places! I want to go back. I want to go so many other places too.

I discovered that you can buy a rail pass and see Europe for pretty much which it cost me to drive to Oregon last month. (Around $400) You can take a month to go from place to place too, with several cities and stops along the way not really adding anything to the price of tickets. I didn’t realize how close countries are really. In many ways, it’s a lot like our states here. Yes, I know that is a newbie thought. But when you visualize it like that, it seems less daunting. It seems like a shorter hill rather than an unsurmountable peak.

Hopefully lockdowns will relax and in the meantime, I can figure out little things like how to fund trips like this. Time is also critical. Gathering information. And though a month trip like that is likely a far off experience, it’s a good place to start.

I can’t believe it has been nearly two years.

I have the wanderlust bad these days. My trip out to Oregon was only enough to take the edge off just a little bit.

This is the motivation. What doesn’t come so easy is the discipline to do it. To just keep hammering away at it until something clicks and it goes from being a dream into reality. Work, read, write, pitch, query, travel, repeat. It’s a simple formula, but one that sometimes I feel is about twenty years too late. But back then there wasn’t the access to information the way there is now. In some ways it is easier. And then my life is a little more complicated than it was back then.

I suppose it’s all a trade off.

I mean, what happens if you set a goal and there is nothing standing in your way except how much you want to work to get there, and the result is getting everything you want and more? How terrifying is that? I mean, what if you actually get it?

Wow.

Discouragement

Today I’m posting here because I’m still working on setting up the other website. I have been needing to write and lately, my procrastination has known no limits. Yesterday, my son and I mudded the room we have been working on for a few weeks. And by working on it, I mean my dad and I put up drywall and the process was pretty exhausting, and all I have had the heart to do is fill in some seams with caulking.

Yesterday, the kiddo and I mudded the heck out of the seams and the screw holes. Today, we sanded them smooth. It isn’t professional quality by any means but we did it together and had a good time in the process. To finish off procrastinating for the night, I also washed the dog. it has been a couple months since her last bath and in the meantime, she had rolled on the beach, played fetch in the dirt, and probably drunk out of the toilet a dozen times or more.

Right now she is whining at the front door, asking to go out, because what bath is complete without rolling around in the dust with wet fur? None!

This isn’t my first rodeo with wet dogs, so I am ignoring her right now.

So, the title of this post. It’s not about procrastination or dogs or home DIY. It’s about words that I have heard many times (and yes, I have been guilty of saying them myself) that just knock the wind out of anyone’s sails.

I can’t begin to count the number of times I have been excited about going somewhere and been met with the most lethal words you can experience when it comes to going on an adventure. Ready? You’ve been warned…

“What would you want to go there for?”

There. Bad grammar and ending a sentence in a preposition is just the icing on the cake. Asking someone “Why would you want to go there?” isn’t much better. I’ve heard these words many times. They used to really hit home. I usually heard them from family, friends, random people I was talking with over drinks (which is why I’m probably not much fun at a bar anymore), or especially someone who has already been to the place I’m daydreaming about.

It’s just like the question they ask mountaineers who climb sheer mountain faces. The answer: because it’s there.

Or in my case, “Why the hell not?”

Sure, it’s less poetic, but they’ve already pissed me off. The thing about going anywhere is whether it is the perfect destination or not is all a matter of perspective. Going to an active warzone like Afghanistan or Myanmar might not be what I’m looking for in an adventure, but who am I to say to someone “What would you want to go there for?” I wouldn’t want to go there myself. Because I’m allergic to having my head cut off, but I do have all sorts of allergies other people don’t.

What’s worse is I have said these words myself. I try to check myself, but sometimes they just fall out of my mouth. I’m not always good at this. I have judged someone’s destination, wrongfully, and found myself chewing on size 10.5 shoeleather. It’s not my business. And making it such says more about me than it does about them.

I’ve caught myself lately saying this, and…crap, I just remember all the times someone else said it to me.

“What would you want to go there for?”

As though I am so ignorant to not understand the drawbacks literally everywhere in the world has. I’m an American, and I have seen that to much of the rest of the world, we are notorious for having mass shootings and shitty healthcare. Does that mean that nobody should ever come here to visit? I’ve been confronted by others who have said, “Hawaii? What would you want to go there for?” Apparently people fear headlice so much that they have crossed Literal Tropical Paradise off their destination list. I was put off on visiting India for 20 years because someone I was married to was freaked out about food poisoning.

Every place has its degree of suck, which is why you do your homework and figure out how to avoid that. Just as you would with finding out what is going to more than make up for it if you can’t avoid the suck.

Not everyplace is everyone’s cup of tea. But there are better ways to have conversations about this. If you want to go someplace, don’t let someone’s prejudices about them overshadow your interest. Sometimes people are just travel snobs. They look down on your ambitions by indicating you are some kind of rube when they are so worldly. Look at all the stamps they have in their passport! Granted most of them are just from stepping off a cruise ship for three hours before getting back on again. But hey, whatever…floats their boat.

My advice is this. Go back to the fifth grade and spin that globe. Hold your finger over it and where it stops, consider it at least. We are only here for a set number of rotations around the sun. Might as well enjoy the journey.

And don’t discourage other people with things like “Too dangerous, too commercial, I’ve been there and it wasn’t that great”. Bullshit. We all don’t like the same things. Don’t assume they will get the same experience or feel the same way you did about a destination.

Closure

I have often been told not to expect closure. But sometimes you find it in strange ways.

I mentioned in an earlier post that it was the anniversary of the end of my last serious relationship. The woman I dated and I had a big trip in May 2020 planned. Ten days in the UK. London then up to Edinburgh and back again. I had always wanted to take a trip like this, but because of COVID quarantine our relationship ended and with that, so did our plans.

I had $350 in AirBnB credits for my part of the stays that I had to use up before they expired, so when my mom, son, and I went to Washington to visit family, I used the balance to rent a cottage in Seaside for a couple nights that was just off the beach.

The strange thing was that my former girlfriend had lived in Oregon for nearly twenty years before moving back to Colorado. It was strange to be seeing and visiting many of the places she often talked about, without her. What was really strange about it was I didn’t feel haunted by her.

Truly a horrible place. *eyeroll*

Her take on Oregon was that it was a miserable place where it rained constantly and that the state flower was mold.

I don’t think I have seen a more beautiful place, even at the tail end of winter. The cold sea, the mossy trees, the sunsets, and yes, it did rain. It even snowed a little on the shore one day. But it wasn’t anything like she described. It was a place I could see myself returning to again and again.

I guess what I am saying is that my eyes were opened in many ways. I began to see fundamental differences in who we were as people. What our tastes and values were and more importantly how they diverged.

On this trip, I used up the last of the funds I had set aside for a trip with her, in a place she had lived, and in a weird way, I got closure out of that. The page was turned and the book was closed on that part of my life.

Photo by Clinton A. Harris March 2021