Life is not to be wasted; money can be taken away but freedom cannot.
Just two months into my nervous foray into travelling, I’m already addicted. The crazy ideas need not much ruminating; they’re quickly morphing into hopes and dreams. Fears? A slight, but not so immaterial one – shall I willingly mortgage my future for a life of wanderlust? That’s been weighing down ever since Day 1. And then there are existential issues. Travel is a selfish endeavor, only nourishing one’s soul at great cost to one’s expenses. The vast majority of the impoverished world cannot even afford to leave their home nation, let alone think self-actualized thoughts. How about the risk of loss of limb and life? What will society think after I’ve flunked its expectations? Will I be forever labeled a cop-out, one who couldn’t and wouldn’t buy into the system?
The scales are tipping though. For every morsel of doubt, there’s an even stronger rebuff for taking the risk into the vast and scary world. And so even if misfortune and misdeed should befall me, I’m resolved to live a life not thrown away to conventional wisdoms and expectations. I will then ask, when will the veil of expectation ever end? I may get a failing grade for my twenties scorecard, but I’ll counter that success is relative and in the eye of the beholder. I won’t beseige any who may not share the same views I do, for if power, fame, and wealth are their prerogatives, that’s their free will. I’ve also got enough insecurities as it is to fear for the future. Not fear, but faith.
I am a born optimist. I’ve got faith in what's right, and in the decisions that I've taken. I’ve also done my research and planning and self cross examining, and the verdict remains unturned. I have faith that life will reward patience and character, faith that if I shall stay true to my values and principles, things will turn out just fine, or all right… or at least not the end of the world. And travel? Why, travel is for finding out precisely what my character is, where the gray line is, where the limits of moral endurance will go. Finally, I’ve got faith that I will eventually give back more to society than all of what I took from it.
To be frank, quitting my job was a logical conclusion. Quite simply, my propensity of bullshit at the organizational level was low. I couldn't lie to myself and pander to the politics of the day, not at this age. Perhaps in my cynical middle-age, I may with reluctance enter the world of managing human expectations. I'd rather stay socially young and naive than mature and jaded.
And of course travel is much more, too. Here come the raining clichés - to see and connect with people, to share hugs and laughs and smiles and love, to drink and eat together. It’s as well the best chance to explore new culture - in literature, in philosophy, in languages, in music, in art, in dance, and in cuisine.
Reading has also naturally come as I pass the time between cities. It’s allowed me to formulate novel yet ridiculous ideas. It’s also allowed me to contemplate and start writing.
So to me success is happiness, that elusive standard to which all men and women can only strive to nearly achieve. It’s about doing little bits of good, just like teachers do, to make small but meaningful impacts in others' lives. Glory can be a vice, for there's no need to seek recognition but in oneself. I’ve got faith that modesty will always be recognized by those that matter most to you. As Thoreau once said, "public opinion is a weak tyrant compared with our own private opinion".
And so in the end, I’m just thankful that I live in a free world. And above all, I’m thankful that I’ve got my personal freedom above all else.
"In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high... It is never too late to give up our prejudices". - Henry David Thoreau, Walden