Last night as the clock struck twelve and Sarah and I wished each other a Happy New Year, I was struck by a rather odd thought. Odd only because it is one I have never had before.
“How the hell is 2014 going to compete with 2013? What could I possibly ask of the following year that would be better than the one I just had?”
Usually around this time people find themselves (or maybe it is just me) questioning what they want from the coming year, and asking that it offer more than the one which came before, for a change in this, an end to that, or a beginning of something new. When I reflect on the year which has just passed, I find that there is very little, if anything, which could top the year we have just had.
Sure there will be a lot of different stuff, and probably a lot of cool travel things that happen when we hit the road again in February, but 2013 was our first full year of ME travel. By that I mean even though it was our second year on the road, it was the first year in which we had really developed our own unique travel style and become comfortable with the notion that this lifelong on-the-road thing was actually going to work. That we didn’t have to worry about pretty much anything.
We know we will always (unless life throws us a dodgy curve ball) find a way to make the money we need when we need it. We have become comfortable with how much we can or can’t spend without actually having to take any notes or ever bother to write things down. We have developed a way of blogging and being creative which we really enjoy. And most of all, we enjoyed almost everything we did or didn’t do. The guilt of being too lazy or too busy which dominated in our first year disappeared. We explored and experienced when we wanted to, and did nothing when doing nothing seemed preferable (as opposed to the sightseeing burnout we developed in the first few months of our first year).
In 2013 we cemented the lives we wanted to have. We realized the dreams we were uncertain were a possibility, and we lived. We lived for us, we lived the way we chose to live. We existed in a way which allowed us to be ourselves, to experience ourselves and each other, to grow as individuals and as a couple. In 2013 we solved most of the worlds problems by talking them out among ourselves (if only the world would listen). We came to terms with our own problems and for the most part let them exist (and as such dissipate) without letting them define us.
We fought and made up, we became co-dependent and decided that that was OK, and that this whole idea of having to be independently strong does not fit every situation. Some people work better when half of a complete whole.
2013 was a big year for both of us. For me it was the realization of a dream I did not entirely know I had. My previous lives, in South Africa, London, Australia, never felt complete, never felt right. I had good times and bad, but I never felt like life was as it should be. I remember a thousand moments in Australia where I was overwhelmed with despair, I had a decent job and a decent life outside of that job, and yet it was still killing me, slowly but surely. I could not live that life and I needed to escape, this year was the realization that I had done exactly that.
It took thirty two years all up, but I realized a dream which dwarfed the one I had as a younger man. I had previously only dreamed of escape, of running away from the things that weren’t right. Instead I found a dream filled with time, opportunity and experience. Far superior to the money or acknowledgement I craved when younger, superior even to the freedom my limited experience had told me was what I required to be happy. I reached out and grabbed at every opportunity which came my way, I pointed myself in a direction with a vague understanding of what I needed to leave behind, and I somehow stumbled upon exactly what I needed to find.
It is hard to describe what it is that changed this year. I am by no means a perfectly happy and well adjusted human being, because I do not think such a creature exists. What I am however, is still on a path to self discovery, and a freedom such as should be had by everyone and anyone who gets to live this life.
In 2013 I worked around fifteen hundred hours less than the Western average, which to me means I had fifteen hundred hours more of my life to live my way.
I spent around three thousand more hours with my partner Sarah than I would have in my old life. Not all of them happy moments for sure, but most of them very happy moments.
In 2013 my life became my own, my failures and successes, happiness and misery, all became solely my responsibility. I became master of my own universe and crafted it accordingly. I found a dream I did not know I had, now live a life far better than any I thought existed.
How the hell is 2014 going to top that?