Well its 2007 tomorrow. For me it’s been a great year of travel, an uninteresting year of work, a year of watching others move on in ways and means and a time of following up on projects and of contemplation.
After spending New Year in a crazy bar called Sharky’s in Phnom Penh, I traveled through Vietnam (review here) for a month with Ben and Eloide, returning south through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia to Indonesia (review) and loved every minute of the place. Genuine sights and people. I returned to Thailand and flew to California (review), exploring the national parks and major cities. I then flew to Mexico and travelled Central America (review) and Cuba (review), meeting cool people and feeling more alive. I returned to LA and flew to New York (review) for 5 odd, odd days and then over to Dublin to meet Joe, Valencia (review) with Joe and John, followed by the dour Berlin (review) and Krakow and Slovakia for James’ stag do and meeting the legendary Clebson along the way (review). Overall it was a long but rewarding trip.
I returned in summer, excited to see friends and new family. They were all generally cool and the other teachers I met at Reading University were a funny, mixed bunch, making a month with Italian kids just about bearable, though never again. I managed a night with Carlin, a few with Dr Luke as well as James’ wedding down here in Devon. The World Cup came and went with pure frustration (and nothing has changed since). Beyond that, it’s been work to pay off debts and accumulate for next years trip which maybe the last for a while. I’ve read and studied a lot and so have grown that way but can’t help feeling that I am reaching as the Americans say, the ‘tipping point.’
For it’s difficult maintaining my lifestyle. While it has been highly enjoyable, I’ve sacrificed regular income, a graduate job, a firm footing in society and relationships for these wanders. Undoubtedly it has improved me in many ways; given me a broader outlook and a range of friends to be proud of. But as Nic mentioned recently, floating through life isn’t a virtue in England. I like to think I have bounded around rather than floated. Or ‘tugged on the teats of life’ as I coined earlier this year. It seems glamorous and I know many, especially men, profess some kind of envy for we will never do this again when we are older.
But there in is the rub. I am now getting older. And it means I must make choices. This life can continue if I forgo a career in England or more correctly a career in a respectable business. For that’s what really gets me. I want some kind of respect. I want to feel I have achieved something of worth in others eyes. The question is, do people respect what I have done so far or is it just a blind pat on the back? I have enjoyed my life and who I have met. But is this my life? Is this what I am to do? And does it matter anyway if I do this? My friends will still be happy as long as I am happy. My family, the same. Should I try something else, take the high road into a career for 10 years, join the Foreign Office and forgo my travels, my freedom.
While I have been down here in Devon, I have missed my friends immensely. Not so much for nights out but just being able to talk to them, laugh and joke, bounce off these ideas and come to some conclusions. For it would help my mind, no end. Next year is an important time for me. I will need to have resolved these issues and headed out onto the path with little regrets and no turning back. Looking back in 10 years time, I don’t want to regret anything and so maybe that I need to step out and use my gray matter somewhat. I don’t seek money, just self-satisfaction.
So looking back at my 2006 resolutions, I achieved about half which isn’t bad, is it? Kept myself in better shape, learnt some decent Spanish, continued with my Japanese, met old mates, saw my cat before she died aged 18, took care of my eyes more and picked up my guitar again. I never learnt how to roar like a bear or juggle like Ronnie or get to BA with Paul or draw better but I didn’t do badly.
2007 is the final year of my first 5 year plan. So far, so good. I want to apply for the FCO this year, do a Diploma with the British Council and a few others things. In no particular order, the plans are:
1) Travel North Africa, Turkey and Armenia
2) Dive in Sinai
3) Do a DELTA, probably in Poland in the summer.
4) Be able to play some good tunes on the guitar
5) Continue to take care of myself health wise.
6) Apply for the FCO in December
7) Meet up with Jeroen, Christine, LP, Dunc, Moneim, the Gorings, Matt and Minka and the other Japanese crowd.
8) Get back out to Asia for winter
9) Take my exams in Japanese
10) Continue my other languages
11) Start back on the book as Christine encouraged.
12) Keep my hair somehow.
13) And as Bernard Fanning sang, “I’m not too proud to hope for a little romance.”