The post that must decide

Just a quick one because I have to get this off my chest.

It’s the middle of the work day too so I can’t be long here.

It’s been 3 days and 3 oh so sleepless nights of waking up at 5am and not being able to get back to sleep.

It’s because I can’t decide what to do, or I suppose it’s more accurate to say I can’t decide if what I want to do is feasible.

To go or not to go? To do it or not to do it?

In case you’re wondering, I’m talking about the dilemma posed in this post here.

One thing I do know is that I have to make a decision soon. It’s in my thoughts all the time.

I can’t concentrate and I certainly can’t sleep. Perhaps I should set a deadline. But I don’t want to rush myself.

Take care. Speak soon.

N x

The post that has a life changing decision to make

I read something the other day. It was a statement asking me to do something. It was this:

Picture what you want.

I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t picture what I wanted. I sat there thinking and thinking, my mind going increasingly into overdrive and then into a state of panic at the realisation that I don’t know what I want.

It wasn’t a question limited to anything. This wasn’t a menu in a restaurant. It was referring to life in general and just asking me to picture something in life that I wanted.

My mind went blank.

That’s not normal, is it?

Why didn’t I instantly say a mansion? Or a car? Or a million pounds? Or, I don’t know, a cat?

It’s because I don’t have a clue what I want.

Yesterday was good, I went to the football, met up with some friends afterwards, went out for pizza with them, then for a few drinks. It was fun.

But this morning, I woke up, had a shower, had breakfast and then just sat on my bed. Staring. Thinking. What now? I’ve got a whole Sunday ahead of me.

The sun is shining, it’s very warm for the time of year and I should be making the most of this.

But instead I’m just drifting along. Existing. Not living. And it’s because I’m not happy here.

I’m not happy with my life.

I’m alone. My close friends are busy with their partners and their babies and their christenings, and the in-law visits and whatever else it is they get up to.

And I’m wasting time. Wasting my life. Wasting the final few months of my twenties.

There comes a point where you have to ask yourself, what is the point in what I am doing?

I’ve said before about having a goal, having an end game. Without one, you end up in a meaningless state of purgatory – much like I’m in now.

I heard something the other day that struck a chord with me:

You need three things to have a good life. One, a meaningful relationship. Two, a decent job of work. And three, to make a difference.

I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I want them all.

Something else I came across while studying psychology at university, was Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It looks like this:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The things at the bottom are the most vital and you build up from there. Suffice to say, I’m lacking on various things throughout the hierarchy.

So, if we take it that their is some truth and substance to this and the aforementioned quote, I’m in trouble.

I am going somewhere with this post, believe me.

As a helpless travel addict, I have recently found myself looking at going on a trip for up to 10-12 days as part of group tour. Sure, these are far more expensive, but you get well looked after, and you get the camaraderie that come with travelling with a group of, say, 10 other like minded people.

And for someone who wants to try something different to solo travel, it’s a natural alternative.

So, I looked at India and the time needed and the money needed and the highly limited and very specific date restrictions imposed. And I thought back to that question about what I really want.

Do I really want to spend that much time and money on India? And the answer was no. It’s not at the top of my priority list if I’m being honest.

So then my attention turned to South America. Now, this is a part of the world I’ve adored since first setting foot in Mexico in January 2007 and returning to in 2009/2010.

Again, just as with India, there were the same issues with date restrictions and highly inflated costs for such a short period of time.

And then what happens afterwards? You return home after 14 days and have to spend another 9 months saving for another trip. I don’t like this idea one little bit.

You see, it was always my ambition to see South America all at once. As part of one big trip rather than a little bit here for a couple of week, and then a little bit there for a couple of weeks, spending £600 on flight every time. I always thought it’d be better, and more economical, to knock it out in one big hit of maybe six or seven months.

There are probably tours in which you can do that, but not in the mould that I’m after.

So, hang on a minute. What happened to that dream?

Dare I say it, is that now a possibility? Could I go to South America for half a year?

Let’s examine my situation:

I have a job that would allow me to disappear for, let’s say, 6 months, and return to it afterwards.

I could actually work, in theory, from anywhere as long as I have my laptop and the internet.

I am basically unhappy with my current life situation in general.

I finally have enough money in the bank to fund a trip of several months and within a few more months this will be even more solid.

And here’s the big one: I have nothing to stay here for. Not a person, not a job, not any significant attachment.

So, now I have a big decision to make. One that will certainly alter my path for the rest of my life, and I don’t say that lightly.

I need to do some thinking over the next few days with both my head and my heart.

I need to think about practicalities, life ambitions and I need to be sure that any decision I make is for the right reasons.

I can’t emphasise that last point enough.

I just don’t know if I can handle my current level of existence and stagnation any more. I need to do something with my life now.

Just like everyone else.

I don’t know if I’ll have made a decision by the next time I blog.

But anyway, I’ll see you on the other side.

N x

The post that had nothing new

This message came through on my Whatsapp messaging app today:

Hey! How are you?! What’s new?!

It was from a former colleague who now lives elsewhere in the country, has a husband and a child – as with seemingly everyone else in my life.

I hear from her every few months – probably about every 3 or 4 I reckon.

I replied:

Hey! I’m well thanks! Hmm… what’s new… I went to Slovenia last week!

That was it. That was all that was new. That was all I could come up with. Literally nothing of any excitement or significance had happened to me in the 3-4 months since our last contact.

No promotion. No marriage. No kids. I didn’t know what to say.

I mean, I could’ve said “Nothing’s new” but that was just too depressing.

But, what, I don’t live in a soap opera where there’s drama every day of the week. So what am I supposed to say?

I have little drama in my life really and that is how I like it.

I’m already realising I don’t like the idea of having to wait until March for my next trip abroad. This isn’t going to work for me. I thought I could offset the need to go somewhere by keeping busy on home soil.

But travelling is too much a part of me to do that.

But I don’t want to go somewhere for the sake of going somewhere. I was slightly guilty of that with my trip to Malta. It has to be somewhere I really, genuinely want to go.

Somewhere amazing.

Which lead me to researching Bolivia. A country I’ve wanted to see for a long time but from the UK it’s massively expensive to get there. I’ve had a good couple months work wise though with a few healthy invoices so I investigated anyway.

Sadly, the dates for the trips I wanted to go on clashed with an unmissable football match I have a ticket for. So it was a no go this time. Had that not been the case, I feel relatively confident I would have booked my flights and the trip would’ve taken place in November.

This would have perfectly bisected the time between now and March.

I am going to investigate the possibility of an African safari instead as well as other parts of South America that fit date wise and money wise.

But I must be careful not to fall into the trap of going just because I don’t want to wait until March. It MUST be somewhere that I really want to see. Must must must.

I can think of loads and loads of countries I want to visit but they aren’t top of the list. It’s time to tick off one that’s high on the priorities. Bolivia fits that bill, a safari quite high too. And there may be somewhere I’ve not yet thought of.

India! India is one other place high on the list that I will look into.

The last few trips have been European so I feel like something a bit further afield. I’ve done quite a bit of Southeast Asia but I haven’t been in Latin America since 2010 and it’s a part of the world I really miss.

It’s been 4 years so surely it’s time to make my return.

But the golden rule still applies here too – DO NOT GO FOR THE SAKE OF IT.

I tell you this, one good thing about being constantly single is I could finish this blog post and instantly book a flight to who knows where without consulting anyone at all.

Just do it and that’s that.

Cool, huh?

On that positive flight of fancy, I shall leave you.

Have a wonderful [insert time of day here] wherever you are in the world!

N x

The post that’s come full circle

Wow, 11 days since my last post.

It feels like an absolute eternity. How have you been?

A hell of a lot has been going on. So much so that I hadn’t even thought about writing a post. In fact, for a few days there I’d forgotten I even had a blog.

I came back from Slovenia a couple of days ago, where I spent 4 days in Ljubljana and the surrounding areas. It was beautiful, by the way. They know what they are and they embrace it. I’d loved their tiny capital city and it’s little quirks and nuances.

And the countryside was gorgeous. To sum up, I’d recommend it.

Prior to that of course, I said goodbye to my Granddad. That was emotional. I really struggled to keep it together in the crematorium.

But I didn’t want to cry there. I have cried in my alone time. And that’s where my crying stays. Away from others.

While in Slovenia I picked up a wretched, filthy cold of which I’m suffering right now. It’s one of those that makes your whole face ache, your eyes hurt, blocks your ears, makes you sneeze all the time, and even gives you coughing fits.

The reason I’ve named this post “full circle” is because the very first blog post I wrote was just after a trip back from Poland, where I’d picked up a bit of food poisoning and was feeling dreadful. It reminds me of that.

So, what now? What’s next?

Well, I don’t know. Because it was a good trip, getting away did me some good. But now I have no more trips booked. Nothing in the pipeline until March.

So, once again I find myself needing something to get my teeth into other than my job. I need a project. I’m still looking for a suitable photography course to take.

I need something to occupy my free time. Something, something… just something.

If I don’t find anything then don’t be surprised if I book another trip for sometime in November or December. It’s my default action that I resort to.

Oh, and for some reason, I’ve re-activated my online dating profile. I told myself I’d take the first possible opportunity to go on a date, regardless of who it was. But when I saw the person who had expressed interest, I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Let’s leave it at that!

Do you reply to people with whom you have no interest in dating, just to tell them you’re not interested? Or is the etiquette just to ignore the message?

I’m always torn between the two but always go for the latter just because it seems so harsh to explicitly turn someone down.

Anyway, I’m off to drown myself in orange juice, Olbas oil and Lemsip in the hope that I will stop feeling so bloody awful.

Have a great Saturday!

N x

The post that appreciates the countryside

It’s been another mini blog hiatus after last night I got back from a long weekend in France.

My Dad owns a house there and he was using it as a base for a holiday with his wife and her sister and husband. I was invited over to visit and I had a good time.

I’m not the biggest fan of his wife but she could be a lot worse. She’s just a bit annoying to have a conversation with.

I think it’s heavily ingrained to disagree with everything you say. It can get very tiring.

But it was a nice break from work and the thing I appreciated the most was being in the countryside. I was in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields and nothing else. The nearest shop was five kilometres away in the next village, which I cycled to every morning for coffee and pastries.

It was via a disused train track and the scenery was gorgeous. All hazy sunshine, tall trees and fields full of sunflowers.

Since living in London, I appreciate this sort of thing so much more. Yes, we have nice big parks here but it’s not quite the same. This was so remote. It was the type of village where you don’t need to lock the front door. Seriously.

So now I’m back in London and I feel revived and reinvigorated.

There is something about spending time with my Dad that makes me feel empowered. I feel like things are possible again. And that the world is my oyster.

We talk about so many possibilities. Since he left the UK, his life has changed for the better by about a million miles and being around him, I don’t know, he just exudes possibilities.

I want to take up a photography course now.

I want to go to India.

We’ve discussed going to a Formula One Grand Prix.

I told him when my next trip was, which is a few days in Slovenia next week, and he said, yeah but when’s your next BIG trip.

And I was like, shit, yeah, when IS my next big trip?! (I haven’t got one lined up).

He’s said I can use his French house whenever I want to get away from London.

Again – possibilities. Fantastic possibilities and opportunities.

I’m so fucking lucky in that sense. I don’t want these things to be wasted on me.

What can happen though is you come back home, you get back to work and all the good intentions you have to do things go out the window. Or get put on hold.

Reality kicks in and you go back into your slump. I don’t beat myself up about this happening because it happens to everyone.

Let’s see if it doesn’t happen again.

N x

The post that is

It’s happened.

Thank you Granddad for all the times of fun, games and laughter I had with you.

Botch on the beach. Standing on the jack.

All the millions and millions of card games.

The games of pool.

Frisbee.

Dominoes.

These were fantastic times I wouldn’t change for anything.

I genuinely loved every minute.


 

Be kind to everyone you meet today, you have no idea what they’re going through.

N x

The post that doesn’t know what to say

Hi. I haven’t been with you for several days. Hope you’re well.

Over the last few days, the news has filtered through from home that my 82 year old granddad’s cancer has spread. There’s nothing they can do. They can only make him as comfortable as possible.

This is one of the hardest sentences I’ve ever had to write but there’s no other way to put it so I’ll just say it. He’s dying.

He’s deteriorating day by day at what sounds like quite a rapid rate and I may not get the chance to see him again. Since I am flying to France on Friday morning, it’s just too tight time wise for me to get there and back and ready for my little trip.

Should I squeeze it in anyway? Even if it means going across the country, basically saying goodbye, then leaving after just a few hours. I don’t know. But I’ve decided not to.

I have made plans to visit him next week even though I’m far from convinced he’ll be around by then. I really, really hope he is.

Should I cancel my France trip? You know what, I think I perhaps would have but I am going to meet up with my Dad, who I generally see once per year as it is.

If I went over and/or cancelled my France trip, I know the predominantly motivating factor would be to alleviate guilt. Again, not an easy thing to admit.

My granddad and I are not close. He and my grandmother (also lost to cancer about 3 years ago) lived abroad for my whole life so we’d see them once every couple of summers on holiday.

He is the heaviest smoker I’ve ever known by a long, long way and also a pretty heavy drinker. That he managed to make it into his 80s with the amount of tobacco and alcohol he consumed on a daily basis is nothing short of an absolute miracle.

He’s skinny and spent most of his life annoying people, shouting, arguing, being rude and getting angry at my grandmother.

Now he’s frail and helpless and so very ill. It all just seems so trivial now. Just so fucking pointless.

It’s strange to think that he might not be around for very much longer. He won’t exist any more. That’s it. Gone.

Like I said, we’re not close by any means but you only get 4 grandparents and so there will be a void when he is gone.

I think the saddest part of the whole thing is that his deterioration is having to be witnessed by my family members that are there and caring for him, specifically, my Mum and Uncle.

I couldn’t handle that. I didn’t want to be there when I was 17 and we had to have out dog put to sleep but I was there to see her getting worse and worse in the lead up t it and it was just the most horrible thing ever.

I don’t know what the say now.

I feel like there’s a lot in me to get out but I can’t express it.

I feel like I’m waiting around for the phone call. The inevitable phone call. Nobody knows when it’s going to happen but it’s coming. Every time my phone buzzes, I wonder if this is it.

This post has been bit of a mess but it’s kind of reflective of my state of mind at the moment.

Speak to you soon.

N x

The post that said no to the ice bucket challenge

Okay, first things first: I’ve stopped aching.

Second things second (that’s an highly underused expression isn’t it?), I’m not really keeping up with the 30-day fear challenge thing. But I have expanded upon it to include things that are productive.

Things you want to do but never get around to doing.

With that in mind, I started teaching myself how to use Microsoft Excel and I have to say I am already seeing the fruits of that labour.

And now on to the actual topic of the post, which is me declining the ice bucket challenge.

The reasons? I don’t have a bucket, any ice or anyone to video me doing it. I’ll donate money and raise awareness by posting something about ALS (which will mean going on Facebook and as you know I hate Facebook), and that’ll be me done.

I like having fun as much as the next man but I’m not a fan of silliness in the name of fun.

The real crux of it is this though. If I did it, it would be purely and simply in the name of peer pressure. It would be because I didn’t want to be that guy who people said didn’t do and was a spoil sport or a party pooper.

And that’s what this is really about for me. It’s an opportunity to show that I don’t give two shits what people think of me. Not two single shits.

Even my friends. Even over something that although is serious, is light hearted in its nature.

Maybe this is one of the consequences of getting older. Maybe this is one of the consequences of being alone.

Maybe it’s a combination of the two.

It’s not about the money. I’m happy to donate to a worthy cause. It’s about sticking two fingers up to societal pressure.

Something I don’t do nearly often enough.

So there you go, you can take your ice bucket challenge and… melt it. Or something.

Feels good.

Cheers.

N x

The post that aches

I played badminton on Friday night as part of operation “stop being a boring bastard and actually do things from time to time” and it went quite well.

It’s now Sunday morning and I can’t walk or sit down or stand up without being in some discomfort though. Such is the infrequency with which I exercise properly, I knew this would be the case.

In a day or two I should be ache free once again.

The badminton itself was good, I always play to a reasonable level that I’m happy with and the people there generally were friendly. But there were a bit too many of them for my liking and there are two reasons for this.

With three courts, only 12 people can play at a time and there was about 22 people there. What’s more, I found out that there are usually more!

Well, excuse me for not wanting to pay £7 plus travel (and an hour long round trip) to spend half the time watching others play while waiting for my turn.

That’s not unreasonable, is it?

For this reason, I’m reluctant to go back to that group again. I might, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

The other reason there were too many for my liking is that I’m not great with large groups. About 5 is my optimal number. Any more than that and things become a little intimidating.

Also, there were definite cliques there, who were sharing inside jokes all the time, which was annoying. We’ve all been there and know what it’s like to be so excluded.

It felt good to be active though, which is why I’m going to try another group either this week or next week. From what I can tell, fewer people attend so I’ll give it a stab.

Also as part of operation “stop being a boring bastard and actually do things from time to time”, I went to watch football at the pub yesterday with a mate. No big deal except also in attendance was his girlfriend, and their two friends, one of whom I’ve met once before.

We went out to a restaurant for a meal afterwards and then on to a pub for a drink. I know what you’re thinking: so what? This is just normal behaviour and typical of what normal people do on an average Saturday night.

Well, not for me it isn’t. It should be, but it isn’t.

Something as bog standard as this felt like some sort of special occasion! Wow, a meal, with bunch of people, in a new restaurant and then a new pub!

I mean, it almost seems pathetic. To them it was almost certainly no big deal. But it was a big deal for me and it’s all about perspective I guess.

For example, if I took you to your first football match and you were really excited, I’d be like ‘alright calm down’, because I do it all time. But you don’t.

The other day I came across this blog post about a 30-day fear challenge. I was intrigued and thought it was a great idea. In the two days that followed, I have done two things that fit the criteria.

More by luck than design, but still. (By that, I mean I didn’t intentionally do either thing for the challenge).

Remember, what’s fear for one person may not be for another.

Now, I’m not saying I will necessarily complete this challenge but even attempting it and championing what it stands for is a step in the right direction.

Now, I’m not sure what I’ll do today.

Let’s find out.

Have a good Sunday whatever you get up to.

N x

The post that is boring or bored or both

I think I might be really boring.

Like, really fucking boring.

I don’t actually do anything. Does anyone else actually do anything?

I think at least part of the reason I ditched Facebook was because I was sick of seeing people who were doing things all the time and seemingly having the time of their lives every single day.

I went on an 8-month round the world trip with four friends in 2008-2009 and when I got back I had a really difficult time readjusting to reality. The norm. So much so that I was only back for 6 months before I went away travelling again for five months.

The comedown from such a life changing experience was one I found incredibly difficult to accept. How was I supposed to go back to a normal life after seeing what I’d seen and doing what I’d done.

A lyric from the song “Sit Down” by James captures this feeling perfectly:

If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor.

After reaching such a high, and that trip was amazing in every way possible, how can I carry on purposefully safe in the knowledge that life won’t ever be as good as that again?

I’ve experienced those riches, and now I have to live with being poor.

So to try to cope, I travel. I go on trips. By myself. I’ve been to 34 countries but it’s not helping me. I’m not getting what I want. It’s not giving me what I want.

But it’s all I have. It’s all I know.

I keep repeating the same action thinking that some day, one day, I will be able to reach those heights again. But it hasn’t happened yet. And maybe it never will.

I’ve been playing the game all wrong.

I sit at home all day working (or trying to work) then I sit at home all evening watching TV shows or football or doing anything to get the hours to pass as quickly as possible.

Because if I can get those hours to pass then I can go to bed where there’s no feeling that I could be doing something else. Then I get up the next day and do it all again.

Five days a week. Just wasting hours. Wasting life. I’m delighted when the time goes quickly during the day because it means tomorrow is not far off, which means the weekend is a bit closer. A weekend in which I will invariably do nothing.

Buy food. Watch football. Eat. Watch a TV show. Sleep. You’ve got to ask yourself, what’s the point in that?

Sure, I might meet up with a friend or two once or twice every month or two. But they’re all busy doing their own thing. Being married. Looking after their kids. Paying their mortgages. Saving up for, and going on, their romantic getaways.

I’ve been doing it all wrong though.

Rather than finding meaningful things to do a few times per week, I’ve been doing nothing. Then a few times per year, I’ve been taking trips. Sudden, concentrated binges of action in the belief (hope?) that I will be able to recapture the good times.

But these trips aren’t good for me because of the vast gulf of time that exists in between them.

I think it is better is to have things to do frequently, not major things, just little things.

I’ve been finding my work incredibly boring for the last week or so. I find myself typing away thinking, my God, I feel like if I have to type another word of this meaningless bullshit, then I’m going to put a bullet in my head.

Maybe a ‘little and often’ approach would make work slightly less boring and I could actually summon the motivation to do it.

With that in mind, today, I booked myself to attend a two and half hour badminton session with 8 other strangers at a local(ish) meetup group.

I used to go to one over a year and half ago but then stopped due to a few injuries. They’ve all cleared up now. In fact, they’ve been all cleared up for a while I just couldn’t be bothered to start playing again.

So, the session is tomorrow night and I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten how to be normal around people I don’t know due to the amount of time I spend alone.

I won’t be able to afford play every week but it’d be nice if I could make it a semi-regular thing. Once a every 3 or 4 weeks or something.

Right, I’m off to while away the time until I can go to sleep.

Hope you’re well.

N x