LIVING THE DREAM: WHEN IT'S
In this chapter of Living the Dream, the dream dissolves into a nightmare. WNW Member #5670 Steven Skoczen talks about the struggles that arise as you step further away from your comfort zone. Now months deep into his around-the-world adventure, Steven faces the reality of being rootless, his suitcase as his anchor. With the fantasy long gone and the ultimate travel horrors upon him, Steven is faced with challenges that he will either grow from or crumble under. Steven explores what you do with these challenges, how to take them in stride, and how to keep moving.
On the fourth horrific trip to the bathroom, I started to think about god.
This diety-in-the-restroom business had only happened once before - when I was 21 and I'd drank my first whole bottle of wine with dinner. I spent the evening curled up against the cool porcelain bowl, rotating prayers between religions to make it stop. Whoever makes this stop, I mumbled, gets a new convert.
Time and water, it turns out, were gods.
This time though, it wasn't self-inflicted. I'd been sick for four weeks straight, and then, just when I was on the mend, woke up sharply to an urgent call from my body. If I might be so kind, it noted, it would like to remove everything that was inside it, possibly including vital organs.
I didn't sleep that night, most of the next day, or most of the next night.
When the smoke cleared, I'd spent six weeks in a city I'd barely seen, and had one singular desire: get out.
To be sure, there are adventures, insights, and wonders to living all over the world. But they come with weeks of hell.
In Phuket, there was the overwhelming danger of learning to ride a motorcycle on the world's second-most-deadly roads.
Knowing that every time I went to get groceries or explore the island, that my life was quite literally in the hands of the strangers behind me. Even more frightening - the lives of the strangers in front of me were in mine.
In Bangkok, coming face-to-face with human trafficking, and the darkest parts of who we are as a species. Meeting people whose existence forced me to admit that my belief that people are fundamentally good wasn’t based on facts, but a willful choice.
In San Cristóbal, watching the actions that come from staggeringly different perceptions of the value and pain tolerances of other living things.
They are too stupid to feel pain, one man assured me. But the sounds resonating from the creatures hit my ears as a different story.
Everywhere, feeling the smallness of my life.
Everywhere, feeling the sameness of the human experience.
Everywhere, feeling the tension of light and dark.
Jim Collins writes beautifully about making your life a piece of art - and whether traveling the world or living in Kansas, I think he's on to something.
All art worth its weight has an internal balance. Contrast.
The same then, if we're to make it any good, must be true of our lives.
To embrace our nightmares - to let them have their way with us. But not to let them swallow us up.
To breathe them in, let them carve out a space, and let them out.
To be left with depths.
Steven writes about his journeys, big life questions, and the occasional terribly embarrassing travel story over at Ink and Feet.