Some Thoughts

Prayer Flags in Front of Himalayas

 

It’s been two months of Nepal stories on this blog now, and we haven’t even gotten through a week in the country. I guess you all don’t mind though, as I seem to have picked up a good-sized audience for this story. I appreciate it, I really do. It keeps me motivated to keep writing, and spilling my soul into this project.

So thank you all.

Recently, I celebrated my 24th birthday. I spent the day rock climbing in Boulder Canyon with some good friends. I woke up sober, spent my day exercising in a beautiful outdoor setting, and had a few good local beers afterwards — couldn’t have asked for much more. Looking out over the side of a cliff, my friend Dylan and I got to discussing travel. He had recently backed out of a trip we had been planning, leaving me to go it alone.

“Do you think you can handle traveling solo?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said, defensively. “I traveled solo all through Nepal and I was fine.”

“Yeah, and from reading your shit it sounds like you were lonely and fucking depressed the whole time!” he said.

I had to laugh here, because he was right.

“It gets better once I get out of Kathmandu,” I told him. I gave him a slap on the back turned my attention back to the belay.

***

The conversation did get me thinking about everyone who is reading and leaving comments on the story though.

So many of these comments fall along the lines of “I’m so jealous of you!” or “What an adventure, I wish my life was more like yours,” etc. While I appreciate the sentiments, it’s interesting for me to see. Because the way I see it, this isn’t necessarily an enviable story. The story – so far – is about suffering a terrible emotional trauma, stumbling into a foreign country heartbroken and depressed, and struggling through every single day.

It’s not exactly a cheery narrative. I don’t think I’ve been pulling many punches in the telling, either.

It’s not a sanitized travel blog I’m telling here — and that was part of my motivation for writing this story, in this way. So much of the travel content you see on the Internet is so sanitized, it’s hard to believe the person even went to the place they’re claiming they did. There’s nothing more inauthentic than #LiveAuthentic.

“People still have problems in their daily lives dude,” my older sister reminded me, a few days later. It was 3 o’clock on a Tuesday, Denver suburbs, and we’d worked our way through a six-pack already. We both had the day off. We sat in a fenced-in backyard. It felt claustrophobic. We moved to the front stoop, where the oppressive sun beat down on the blacktop and reflected waves of unbearable heat up at us. We went back to the back. Two folding chairs and a small table sat in the middle of a dying lawn.

“People have bad days and breakups and at home, too. And a lot of us feel more stuck here.”

“True,” I acknowledged, looking around. “I guess mine just has better background scenery.”

“Exactly,” she said.

We wandered off and discussed the emotional through-line of the piece, then wandered off and caught some Pokemon in Pokemon GO.

***

The line of reasoning reminded me of one of my favorite epigraphs, which I discovered in the opening page’s of Jon Krakauer’s Eiger Dreams (my review here). The quote goes:

“Having an adventure shows that someone is incompetent, that something has gone wrong. An adventure is interesting enough in retrospect, especially to the person who didn’t have it; at the time it happens it usually constitutes an exceedingly disagreeable experience.”

An apt sentiment, one that has stuck with me for many years, years in which I’ve had a number of “exceedingly disagreeable experiences.” Experiences which – whatever psychological or physical toll they take on me – I can always flippantly disregard with one little phrase: “It’ll make a good story.”

I didn’t name this story “In Praise of Character in the bleak inhuman Loneliness” because I like to sound pretentious— I chose that title because much of the time, being in Nepal was a bleak, inhuman, and exceedingly lonely experience. Although I don’t regret going, I wouldn’t really wish my trip on anyone.

***

Eight months after we started dating, Holly and I took a trip to New York. At Junior’s in Brooklyn, we sat at the bar and listened to the eccentric barman look at our IDs and tell us the days we were born: a Tuesday and a Saturday. He was special, like that. “Horrible lead paint poisoning,” he said. He had enough stories to fill the space between us for two hours, and many more, I have no doubt.

“But long ago I learned not to do things just for the story,” he told us.

***

Have I learned that lesson yet?

I don’t think so; not entirely, anyways.

I think I’ve got a few more stories to tell yet, a few more epics to rack up. But I think those of you that aren’t out there chasing adventure, doing things just for the story— you just might be ahead of me in this thing we call life.

Thanks for two months of reading!

Love to hear your thoughts on this subject in the comments.

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22 thoughts on “Some Thoughts

  1. It’s not 2 months for me since I started reading a bit late. We have different reasons why we write travel stories, for me I started so that it reminds me of places that I had been with m. Time will come my brain will deteriorate as I get old. I don’t write to impress anyone, but of course I envy who has lots of audience and it’s innate to people, but even that is the case, The excitement to write things of places that I visited is something I find enjoyable, it’s my medium to be able think another aspect of my life aside from my day to day living and my work. Same with you, you found your reason to write and I found mine, it’s probably not so honourable or dignified reason but still a reason that gets me inspired. Thank you for writing this topic.

  2. I’m late to the game, but I’m really enjoying your story so far.

    I’ve been traveling for 5 months now and I’m just now writing about some of it. That writing, and this post, makes me consider these experiences retrospectively and I DO know that more of it than I care to admit to people has been uncomfortable or sometimes downright miserable. I’m still glad I did it and even wish I had done more.

    I like the quote. My life as an adventure is pretty awesome. Your experience in Nepal is incredible. But there was definitely an ‘exceeding disagreeable experience’ that incited all of this and more uncomfortable ones that followed. That’s the paradox of the quote. I think having these experiences in removed ways helps us see that and therefore better figure out our lives.
    Insightful post. I enjoy how you draw me in with the emotional context and I also walk away with a desire (and some information on how to go about it) to get to Nepal.
    Looking forward to more.

  3. I have a psychiatrist to deal with all my ‘stories’. People always tell me I should write a book or such because of my many adventures. Exactly as you put it – things go wrong on an adventure. My psychiatrist told me ‘No matter what, your life is never boring.’ My mother recently told me that I don’t know how to live a normal life because my life has been very abnormal but I agree with your sister. I think the redundancy of life made an interesting story because I was off on a love affair, a different city, traveling exotically, and experiencing the highs and lows outside of the more mundane barriers of jobs or family. I have written blogs for years and then deleted them. Kept journals and eventually shredded them. Decided that my stories are for when I want to tell them. I am not at all surprised that at 24 that you could be so insightful and reflective of your own experience. One can live a lot at 24 and then double it at 48. And yes there is a level of emptiness when you are alone in a foreign city where you know no one that is very much unlike any sort of loneliness one has at home. It is spending my birthday in Nara knitting with needles I bought from the 1 yen store while watching Japanese TV & eating Kitsune Udon from the 7-11. It is the real moment when all there is – is yourself facing the mirror. Good work.

  4. I really enjoy reading your travel stories, and actually I appreciate the honesty with the fact that it was lonely, sad, difficult, etc. Although I haven’t traveled somewhere so far-flung, I moved across the country this year and when I talk to people back home they’re always raving about how it’s so “adventurous”– and I always want to say, yes, it is but it’s also kind of depressing and hard! But I think the other compelling thing about your blog is that we can see you growing from the experiences, and how that’s worth the struggle. Keep writing!

  5. I love the unglamorous side to travel. It’s real. So you speaking real, not sugar coating it really stands out. I think this side of travel needs to be seen, because sometimes I have felt so alone thinking that I should be having a great time because I’m somewhere incredible. I think people need to know that it isn’t always happy camping just because you are “living the dream”. Thank you for sharing this side. Xx

  6. Happy Belated Birthday! Technically, you still have a year more to go before your bones stop growing 😀 I think life is about accumulating memories. Not necessarily pleasant memories but embedded with life lessons or ideas that cannot be taught but experienced first hand. I love travelling solo. Some people find it horrifying but I’m glad I had the opportunity doing so. Felt extremely liberating!

  7. Well said! Your blog definitely stands out from other travel blogs because of your desire/ability to capture the authenticity of travel. Your posts are always a great read. Happy belated!

  8. I thought it was all great reading! You were experiencing the location, along with deep depression, which caused you to view your time there very differently from someone who could have experienced the exact same things feeling great. Yes, it was very authentic, and I appreciate that. Not all trips are perfect. But some are darn close to it. Your experiences may have been very difficult for you, but they will without a doubt shape your thoughts and your future, one way or another. All of our life’s experiences do. You did a great job, Thisisyouth!

  9. I follow because you are good writer – you know how to engage the reader and keep them reading. Your use of language is efficient and effective, with a good balance of dialogue and description. And, yes, because you are a real person having a real life experience – not sugar coated – so it feels like reading about a friend’s adventure. I assume all this writing will lead to a book down the road?

  10. Happy Birthday 🙂 adventures can be of different types, encompassing different experiences, and I’m sad to hear the Nepal trip was lonely for you, but days will get better, the stories will get more cheerful, your audience count will ever increase and me, as an ardent follower of your blog will continue reading it!

  11. I find the discussion you and your sister shared really insightful, how you stated you just had better scenery during your heartache. The thing about life is that it always comes down to perspective. When I read your blog and the things you have been through, even though it is something another might experience, I feel like you are experiencing it on a deeper level. It’s like the change of scenery helped to shift your perspective, and give you a newfound wisdom that you may not have tapped into had you been at home or somewhere else. Perhaps you are just an old soul, or perhaps it has to do with the background, I don’t know. I do know that I really enjoy your blunt, honest style, and I feel emotions whirl around as I read about your journey. So I think you should be pretty proud of your story telling skills and insightful nature. Looking forward to more.

  12. “Type II fun”… or maybe “type III”? Perhaps not so “fun” at the moment it happens, but at least enlightening… and those times make the best stories! d(-_^)

  13. It’s what’s known as “type II fun”… or maybe “type III”? Perhaps not so “fun” at the moment they happen, but at least enlightening… and they make the best stories! d(-_^)

  14. I think you summed it up very well. This is life, this is your life to be precise and it ain’t perfect, but you are facing it and you are living it. So bravo and happy belated birthday! I love your posts and hope to see more in the future.

  15. You are the same age as my son, and seriously, I could never imagine him ever having the courage or strength to travel on his own like you do, what an adventurous spirit you have. Happy Birthday my sweet friend, love reading your Blogs 🙂 God Bless xxx

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