Life for me at the moment is traveling. Traveling and that inherent uncertainty that comes with being self-employed.
I get asked if I travel well and I guess the answer is yes. Yes in that I am resilient and hard to stress out. I also have a generally open chatty demeanor which quite often gets me onside with people whose job it is to make life inconvenient (maybe not on purpose but through their actions.)
Of course it’s not always that easy and in some ways I’m a terrible traveler. My grasp of foreign languages is fleeting and frustrating which can get to me when things aren’t working out. That coupled with my near total inability to sleep on public transport can lead to a red eyed grumpy, solution based version of me (which is a bad thing as my decision making suffers with fatigue.)
But on the whole it’s not the lack of sleep or the frustration of communication that is the hardest part about traveling, it’s saying goodbye.
I am immensely lucky that people appreciate my photography and writing enough to want me around documenting the IFSC World Cups and outdoor climbing. My passion and commitment have taken me to where my climbing ability never could and I get to travel the World with the best climbers on the planet. However at the end of every trip comes the goodbyes, those fleeting conversations that happen while you try to allay the sadness of leaving through handshakes and hugs, convincing yourself as much as anyone else that you will see each other again soon to rekindle the friendships formed while on the road.
Everyone knows that although they will probably meet again there are always uncertainties. Everyone beneath the top dozen or so athletes is faced with the reality that if they don’t perform the opportunity to represent their country could disappear. The next hot young climber is always waiting to take their place in the traveling elite.
For some climbers the motivation goes and they fade from the competition circuit to focus on outdoor objectives. This year several strong competitors are transitioning from competition to rock and you know the goodbyes from them will last that little bit longer.
Then of course there is my situation. I gave up the security of a full time job for this life, I rented out my room and car and hit the road. It is a wonderful existence but it comes at a cost. Over the coming weeks I will engage with prospective advertisers for issue 2 and if I don’t generate enough interest it will be me saying goodbye for a while and working on issue 2 from the other end of the world while holding down a day job to make ends meet.
When you’re traveling you get used to goodbyes, that sadness that comes with them is a sign that the people you meet add value to your life and it makes every goodbye worth it. If you didn’t travel you wouldn’t face the goodbyes but you wouldn’t share the fun and excitement of living with such a diverse and wonderful bunch of people. That said, I still hate goodbyes!
Not everyone is designed to travel but everyone should try it. You may sleep through every flight like a baby, you may gain proficiency in every language that you come across, and you may get frustrated and angry when things invariably don’t work out. However you will learn to say goodbye and through that you will realise the world is full of special people. If you never leave home again travel is worth it just for that realization.