On being out of phase

I have been back in London now for almost 2 months and it has been a whirlwind of emotions and realisations deeply intermingled with dozens of other equally poignant ‘tions. I find myself in a place so foreign and far out of my experiences for the last several years, that sometimes it feels like I have stumbled upon some ancient tribe lost in the jungle for centuries and am trying to figure out the meaning behind Scrotum mutilation (or as they call it here, skinny jeans) and bizarre interaction rituals which seem to have a well choreographed flow behind them.

To be honest, sometimes it can be quite jarring and confronting to be so out of the loop, other times hugely interesting and thought provoking. It is difficult trying to figure out my place here, or I guess, whether I have one at all. I have since returning to the UK been a little all over the place. Walking through the park some days I might start smiling to myself as I contemplate something which seems like an answer or realisation in this Brave New World. Other times I feel all too strongly how different I have become and feel my eyes mist up as a warning that I am about to feel lost and alone in the weird society of one I have created for myself.

It sounds intense, and it can be, but as long as I can remember I have tended towards intense and the extreme anyway. Emotionally, physically and with pretty much everything I choose to do or not to do, I go for it. I don’t like to fuck about once I want something, life is too short for that.

Unfortunately, those who tend to the less extreme end of the scale, and even more so, those who live a normal life, are accustomed to the rituals of their society, and have developed mechanisms to embrace what that society has to offer them far beyond my current ability to do the same. This includes existing on a schedule of living which is far removed from my own, and hard for me to come to terms with.

I have tried to think this through, but being so close to the subject (actually being the subject) means that large swathes of the jungle and its inhabitants lifestyles, and how they might relate to my own existence among them still eludes me as I try and find a path hidden among the trees.

But, when you have as much time as I do, self reflection is not a choice so much as a way to fill a plethora of idle moments, and it must surely have some potential for clarity even if it does come from ideals and notions deeply rooted in my own limited experiences.

Either way it led to this; I feel like a man out of time and out of touch with the majority, in particular with the majority of those existing in Western society. I have met up with some amazing people here in London, and even met some new amazing people unexpectedly. But all of them have lives, normal lives, with friends and family, jobs and obligations, basically the stuff that makes a normal life a life. And me? Not so much.

My time referance is different and I often feel like I am watching things tick by in slow motion, waiting for things is difficult for me anyway because I am not very good at it. So now I have to constantly remind myself that most people can’t just up and drop everything to go have lunch on a Tuesday, and that they only have a holiday once or twice a year and can’t go see some shit just because they feel like it.

It is weird and oft times disconcerting being in a world where my time ticks so differently to the vast majority. In a relationship, in particular one where you have the same goals, this difference is shared and so ameliorates the intensity of what at times can be extremely isolating as an individual.

In Mexico, things were less at odds with my chosen lifestyle because it tends to be quite a transient place for non-local people, those who stay there for longer than a holiday, are people who have also embraced an alternative lifestyle, even if not all that similar to mine, it was less different than the world I currently find myself in.

I guess it will be different again when I hit the road, once I get down to Spain and I am presumably in a world which is more like the one I am used to, but unfortunately all the damn trees keep blocking the view and it is hard to be Ok with that in the moment.

I am in a new place with new people and I am myself a very different person to who I was 2 months ago, which is quite daunting. I think, that at the moment rather than being ok with not knowing what I want, I want everything. Greedy right?

But why bullshit, I want it all. I want to travel and do the things I do, I want the experiences and the excitement, I want to soak up every bit of life available to me while I can, but I also want what normal (ish) people have, because well, that’s part of life too. I’m not entirely sure what normal (ish) life is, I’ve never really had one, but sometimes, it looks kind of nice.

This may all come across as a whinge or a sorrowful sonnet of poor me’s and despair. But I prefer to think of it as an expunging of mind stuff. It’s all in there swirling around in the confines of my cranium, but it is mixed in with a lot of good stuff too. A lot of happiness and some great people making me think about life and what it could potentially hold.

Sure I get sad sometimes, but I am also experiencing a lot of new and exciting things, and as a consequence, joy. If the last few years have shown me anything, it is that my default setting is happy so I know that somehow, at some point, probably once these damn trees get out of the way, things will become much, much clearer. And I might even start hanging out more with the Jungle people.


0 thoughts on “On being out of phase”

  1. I always find it discombobulating and rather unsettling to return home after prolonged periods away. When Tony & I spent 7 months in Toronto after our RTW trip back in 2014, it wound up being one of the most difficult periods in the last few years for many of the reasons you outlined in your post. Even though we were secure in our decision about what path was right for us, it was still really weird for us to be surrounded by people all living very homogeneous, conventional lives… the ones we are all raised to believe are the gold standard. I think it is very difficult psychologically to spend prolonged periods of time in a community where you feel like an outsider… it can make you second guess your choices, make you wonder what’s wrong with you, and even begin to slip back into craving that “normal life” we left behind. I consider myself very lucky to have really wonderful friends back home who are supportive of the unconventional lifestyle Tony & I have decided to adopt, but even still, I do sometimes feel a subtle sense of alienation (generated from my own brain, not from them) because of how different my life, goals, and motivations are to theirs.

    Still, part of what we have chosen in life is to keep things interesting and keep challenging ourselves, right? I think we learn the most about ourselves and grow when we are in situations where we are uncomfortable and not entirely at ease; this period is important for you, and everything you have expressed are things that I marveled at myself before we hit the road again. Thanks for sharing—it’s all part of the journey!

    1. Thanks Steph, yeah it is funny trying to figure out why these feelings and emotions pop up and what they really mean. I am going over memories of who I am on the road, when I am out experiencing new things, places and people, and that person seems almost completely different!

      I remember being in China or small town Mexico, or trying to figure out how to cross a border with fragments of the spoken language, and at those times I am at my best. I figure out what is going on and more importantly I thrive on it and feel like I have achieved something for having done it.

      Here in a place which is supposed to be my adopted home, I kind of feel like a child trying to figure out things the adults have been doing for years. All the nuances and behavioural adaptations which people have developed keep popping up and surprising me. I think my experiences on the road are at least helping me to be honest with the people I meet about why I might seem out of sorts, and I think that works better than trying to fake it until I make it!

      I really like who I am on the road, So the trick I guess is to be that person while I am here in this society with wee adaptations. I think I am getting there, I think. But I it is still surprising how quickly one becomes an outsider in their own society.

  2. “Here in a place which is supposed to be my adopted home, I kind of feel like a child trying to figure out things the adults have been doing for years. All the nuances and behavioural adaptations which people have developed keep popping up and surprising me.”

    Yes, absolutely! I felt this way when I was living in the U.S. but would go back to Canada—I was comfortable with so many things in the U.S. (like filing taxes, how the banks/mortgages worked, tipping culture, etc.,) but would get back to Canada and even though I had grown up there and spent 18 years of my life there, felt like I had no idea how to actually be a functional adult there. And, of course, the differences between living in the U.S. & living in Canada are much smaller from being a long-term nomad returning to western culture after years of wandering!

    I still struggle with being who I was on our trip vs who I am now here in Playa even—now that we are actually working and making money, I know I don’t have the same carefree attitude I did when we only had to get up each morning and explore. The longer I stay in one place—even when it is a place I like and enjoy many comforts in—the more I feel stuck and find myself regressing to my “non-traveling” self. It really is a challenge, because like you, I really believe I am at my best when I am navigating the unknown. I guess we will see how I feel when Tony & I touch down in Colombia tomorrow night! 😉

    1. That is very much how I started to feel in Playa, just my old not really very impressive self again. Hard not to fall into a lifetime of patterns when once you are not facing new challenges.

      Sweet! Colombia should be a lot of fun, enjoy yourselves down there looking forward to seeing some pics!

  3. Enjoyed reading this post. I can relate in so many ways.
    I made a huge leap to move back to Spain and still feel the transition, I feel in many ways I’m leading a “normal life,” one with a routine, people dependent on me (part time job) but constant questioning to have more freedom to do as I want. It’s also interesting because my brain still swings into the “what society dictates vs. what I want” but seems no matter where I am, even in Spain the question of “What do you do?” comes up. I guess, at some point, I’ll release the fears, concerns and worries and eventually not give a F%$& or I can only hope but I continue to be in this self-evaluating/comparing/what’s my purpose mentality.

    All to say, when I’m around people who are climbing the corporate ladder or want to and I have no desire and I question my differences.

    Keep trusting yourself. That’s about all we can do!

    1. Thanks Lauren and glad you enjoyed the post. Just reading your response and its similarities to how I am feeling even now while I am in Spain, and wondering how much of this mentality we seem to carry with us is just part and prcel of leading an out of the ordinary lifestyle. Perhaps when you are constantly reminded of this fact by others and by the things we ourselves do every day, it is an unavoidable part of who we choose to be. This as you suggest though doesn’t need to be a bad thing, we might just have to come to terms with it and start embracing and looking at it a different way.

      Yes we are constantly self and life analyzing creatures somewhat outside of the social norm, and therefore our thought processes will reflect that and be self analysing comparisons between us and the rest of the world.

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