I originally decided to ask for 2 months leave to have time to lick some recent life wounds and get my shit together again. But it wasn’t too long before time helped heal the big wounds and I didn’t care so much that my shit was a mess. So I was left with 2 months to do whatever it was that I wanted, which is probably the greatest gift I’ve ever received (I also really like the Triscuit necklace that my Bana made me this Christmas with a note that said ‘May you never go hungry again.’ She’s clever.)
Some of my friends were convinced that I would leave and never return to the corporate world, having found my real life’s meaning while traveling. And I wondered too. I didn’t have much room for books, but I lugged “Screw Work, Let’s Play” and “Born to Do” everywhere I went, completing some of the exercises and hoping they would result in an epiphany of my true life’s purpose. Ideally I would fall in love with the children of Cambodia and want to dedicate my life to helping them. Instead those kids reminded me of stinging red ants. I wondered if maybe I would be consumed by my passion for health and fitness and never leave the spa I visited, but it was clear that I wasn’t quite weird enough to fit in there.
I did discover a few shocking things though. Like I love to write, which is sort of a surprising thing to find out when you’re nearly 34. I started this blog because a couple friends told me to, and it turned into something that made me really happy.
During surf school we had lots of discussions and debates, but one of them was going round the circle and saying what life means in 30 words or less (It made sense to discuss these things with our feet up at the Rancho, exhausted after a day of surfing, lots of great food and beer). And, personally, I just want to live a life full of stories that I can share. I don’t care if they’re happy, sad, funny (preferably funny) or completely screwed up (most likely option) just so long as they’re interesting and I’ve still got some great friends that’ll smile when they read about it.
And I already knew this one, but I love to travel, I just do. I really do! And if HR called me right now and said, “You got an S- in Statistics? Don’t recall seeing that on your CV, in fact all we can see is ‘graduated with honors’. You’re disqualified.” I would just keep traveling. Until I ran out of money and probably came begging to get back in the race.
One of the things I most love about traveling is the difference in just about everything. I grew up in a place where diversity was the choice of Campbell’s soup you put in your hot dish. That’s a gross exaggeration, because everyone is unique – it’s just we all looked the same. We did stare at different people though, the ones who used cream of broccoli when they should have used mushroom. But it is such a cool place and I love going back there. And the great news is that there are so many other places around the world that are so different but equally cool.
I did not decide during my travels that I’m ready to leave the Corporate Rat Race. I work with a great team of smart people I really care about, for a company who has helped me see a good portion of the world and for that I am so thankful. Life's not perfect, but living in a hut in Thailand making arts and crafts isn’t really going to make me feel that much better about it.
So my plan is to keep traveling as much as I can and keep writing about it. Start working again. And do yoga and surf and cycle, run and even meditate (won’t write about that, it’s boring). And eat more Thai food.
One slightly disappointing thing is that I don’t feel like I’ve changed much after the 2 months off. Mostly because my shit is still a mess (in hindsight, maybe I should’ve cared about this particular aspect of my life a bit more). I left my purse with my passport and all my credit cards in the cab from the airport (AGAIN! … Mom, I realize I didn’t mention this part) and the cab driver returned it to me (AGAIN?! I wonder if this is what the astrologist meant when he said I am luckier than most? Maybe when he said “luckier” what he meant to say was “more careless and irresponsible”). And only a Dutch cab driver would do this, but he actually organized my purse for me. He apologized when he dropped it off, but said it was a mess. He was right. I guess this was the equivalent of him rifling through my belongings, but he could have rifled through all of my stuff without having to organize my receipts and group several different currencies into separate pockets. Other people might find this creepy, but it just made me love Dutch people more.
So now I’m going to try to get organized, unpack, attempt paying the bills (did you know that in the Netherlands, their bills are written in Dutch?) and return back to the real world…then force myself to go back to work. Monday.
But remember everyone, 2011 is supposed to be one hell of a year and I wish you all the best! Thanks so much for reading my blog. And by the way, I barely missed Diamond status and it is American Express’ fault, but I’m not going to get into it now.
Happy New Year! And for heaven’s sake, come visit me in Amsterdam!