The Travel Article That Never Gets Written

There are lots of entries and articles about travel. People write up their amazing adventures. We hear of trips to the other side of the world. We see people pushing their limits of comfort and being exhilirated. We see others having the most relaxing time of their lives.

What I have yet to see, though, is the article I could have written several times over.  In 2011 I rode my bike over 1,000 kilometres from Toronto to Quebec City and had the time of my life. I raised about $4,000 for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. In mid-August of 2011, I loaded my bicycle in to a rental car in Quebec City, drove it back to Toronto, and the following Monday had I been completely forthcoming I could’ve written the following:

After several months training and two weeks on the road all focused on one thing, the ride happened. It was more amazing than I could have even anticipated. Now it’s over, though, and I am completely at sea.  The sense of purpose I had in fundraising, the motivation I had to train myself to the point where I could ride 100 kilometres a day on my bike is gone. What’s the point, after all. In just a few weeks, winter will be here and the days of long bike rides outdoors are over. Besides that, I’m not even sure where I’d go or what I’d do if I could go. I feel 100% free of inspiration. And even if I were inspired to do another big ride or project, I have to go back to work. It’s just not fair.

I woke up Tuesday morning after working a full day and I dreaded going back to work. It wasn’t so much the fact that I had to go to work. After all, everyone has to work. It was the fact that I now have to go to work without anything to look forward to or to work toward.

sad

This was a cycle that would happen over and over. Three years in a row I did various big trips – ones that pushed me above and beyond myself both physically and mentally. I’d go weeks or even months feeling like I did above, moping about and trying to find my way until a new project would present itself. Then it would be like a bolt from the blue. I’d be happy again and excited about what the next day offered.

What an irritating and completely avoidable situation to find myself in.

It would be easy to have the same feeling about coming back from India. After all, it was an amazing experience I had been anticipating for months. I practiced my language skills for literal years and really stepped things up in the last couple of months on that front. But the reality is this: I can’t afford to travel all the time. Not only that, though I get a generous amount of paid time off at work, I have used most of it up -by now and need to save some for a proverbial rainy day.

But now I am determined to not fall in to that same pit of post-project/post-trip misery that I’ve done so many times. The trick was something that Daegan and I came up with while we were traveling. We knew a let-down was possible if we didn’t have anything else to look forward to when we got back. So we both lined up a few things.  Here’s what I’ve got going:

In past years I’ve had a really bad habit of not going for long bike rides for anything other than training. My attitude had been that I probably could only have fun if I went somewhere new, somewhere that took a week or more to get to. But last summer showed me you could have a ton of fun on a short 100 km ride. So as it gets warmer that will be happening.  To prepare for that I actually went for an indoor ride this morning. It was short but it felt so good to be physically active and really get my heart rate up

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After basically a year off from running due to an injury I’ve decided to restart tomorrow. It’ll be a slow start as I don’t want to re-injure myself but I hope to get myself to the point I was at in 2016 – October of that year I was ready to run the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon. (I ended up in Delhi that weekend instead – a fantastic reason to miss it).

If there’s one thing I learned from being in India, it’s that I love the food. (You all knew that already though, didn’t you?) As much as I love it, I am still not as good at cooking it as I want to be. Fortunately I had lots of coaching in various methods and for various dishes. Maybe this will be the year I can properly make round and tasty roti that are not just reheated from plastic-wrapped store-bought containers.

These last couple of things line up with something else I’ve been working on – getting back to racing / touring weight. I’ve gained a bit in the past year. Looking back it’s clear why: my eating has been careless and my activity levels have been low. I’ve got lots of great plans for how to get that back on track and am really excited about it – not just because my clothes will fit better again but because eating right also fed back in to putting me

Five days after I got back, while still a bit jet lagged, I took my first improv class in 8 years at the Bad Dog Theatre. For a while I was really in to it but then I started feeling less and less comfortable on stage, eventually fading out from performing and then even fading out of watching improv. It’s fun to be playing again.

Hindi learning will still be continuing. My friend in Pune is dealing with some Internet issues but I’m still finding ways to practice. And my old crew I was learning with before have found a new teacher and we’re meeting every Monday night to improve our speaking. I still have a hope to someday be lots closer to fluent. Or at least not have to wonder what half the words people are saying are.

And of course, there’s the Toronto by Library project. I will be resuming that next week as well along with some of the “Appreciating my own Back Yard” series.

For the first few days after getting back I was still recovering from jet lag and didn’t really work on any of those things and I really felt the clouds of the old “Well now I have nothing to look forward to.” gathering. Yesterday, though, I started working hard on some cool new stuff at work (other challenges that are proprietary so I can’t talk about here) and today I went out and started getting things together including a new pair of running shoes. And now I’m sitting here itching to go on all of those things.  So it seems that I’ve learned an important lesson: Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to fulfillment. If you plan only for your great trip or project, be sure to have more exciting things to do waiting in the wings.

And as for Daegan – his list is about as long and exciting as my own. But there’s one thing we found out today that tops the list. He’ll be starting university in September – he just got accepted to start working on his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts specializing in Photography this fall. We’re really proud of him and so excited for this next step in his journey. So tonight we’ll be heading out to dinner to celebrate.

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