The first time that I met my travel partner in crime/ boyfriend Ben was when our paths crossed at a small school in a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas. Two years later, we live nearby each other in our non- native Los Angeles, where the monotony of obligatory stuff like school and work was beginning to wear us down- until Ben suggested that we take a year to ride our bikes around South America. I immediately snorted in contempt at the idea. But like an inconspicuous cloud forming over my head, the possibility of an adventure condensed into a heavy and exhilarating reality, soaking me to the bone with certainty that his idea was a good one.
I believe that my immediate reaction towards Ben’s proposal was normal. Although at 21 I’m as unrestrained as I’ll ever be, this fact is hard to recognized when society’s expectations give me tunnel vision down the path most taken. And then there’s money- how could I possibly afford a full year of travel? Once I had thrown myself at the foregone conclusion that the escapade was definitely going to happen, and started telling everyone I knew about it, I was asked the same questions. What about school? What about money? What about work?
But an impassioned spirit can turn obstacles into mile markers and fantasy into reality. Men have gone to space, right? Travel isn’t rocket science; it’s as simple as committing and planning. The questions had simple answers. Education is lifelong, and I, like most of my peers, studied what I thought I was interested in without really being sure. As for money, saving it requires sacrifices. I saved enough money to go to India by making minimum wage at a smoothie shop (where I lived off of smoothies). Each pathetic paycheck I deposited, and each solid meal I forfeited, boosted my incentive. I didn’t have a real job, so quitting was easy. Having a salary job would have been more difficult, but not without options. I could beg for time off, or I could quit and remind myself that security is an illusion anyway.
Indeed, security is nonexistent. There are too many monsters out there to hide from, and eventually one of them is gonna get you, be it debt, disease, or desolation. Go ahead and try to fight off the monsters, but don’t let them wear you down. Take the energy that you spend fighting exhaustion, and turn it towards something that will spike your sense of purpose with a caffeine- like enthusiasm. For Ben and I, and for so many people, travel is like a double- espresso shot for the soul. The tunnel vision fades, and all those monsters at home don’t scare us so much anymore.