Traveling is an unbelievable experience, every person who tried it will tell you that. Some people will stick to it, others will say it’s not for them. However, there is nobody who would be left unaffected. The same is with busking. The freedom it gives is incomparable. But what if we connected those two manifestations of freedom and put them next to the most valued feature in “normal” society – friends and family?
Today’s bonus post (as we always create a new entry on Friday evening) idea came to me after conversation I had with Niki’s Mum and also when I encountered Nomadic Matt’s blog with his post from 2009 – Everyone Says I’m Running Away. It came to me that I can relate more than to any other opinion I’ve read or heard for quite some time. Travelling is amazing and if you’ve read his post you would also read my opinion here. We are running towards life, not from it. We, travellers, experience life as it is, we see so much more and enjoy enormous variety of tastes, sights, sounds, smells and touches. I don’t want to argue which way of life is better, there is no possible answer to that problem. Some people will enjoy nine-to-five job, a house, family and decent savings in their bank accounts. Other will be excited with sleeping in a cave, living hippie lifestyle, getting rid of all the money and enjoying the community of other people like them.
Me? I enjoy, no, I love the thrill of the journey ahead. I like little things that make life easier like a good sleeping bag. I am happy to be able to earn my living anywhere I decide to go to, without consulting it with anyone or asking for permission. I love travelling, sleeping in a tent and eating baked beans from the can. I also adore going everywhere, having a flat for a couple of months and using well equipped kitchen. I enjoy both discomfort and comfort. Everything during travel. It is a constant that must accompany me at all times.
When I left everything to become a street artist and a traveller I felt like reaching a cloud nine. We all know how people feel when they throw off the shackles of a regular life and jump deep into the ocean of freedom, though. However, what happens to our families, friends and acquaintances? I can tell you only from my perspective, supported by some observations.
I started travelling full-time somewhere around 2012 and I must tell you, folks, it wasn’t easy. The most difficult aspect here was not leaving the comfort zone, oh no. It was enduring the enormous pressure from almost everyone around me, especially family. Funny enough, it still goes on. When you talk about people who left everything to become a gadabout everyone says that it’s so cool, they also would like to do it and so long. When you actually screw everything and start doing what you always wanted and the relatives learn you become one of these daredevils, their attitude changes drastically.
First, it starts with serious discussions. Questions like “Have you thought it through?” or “Are you sure you want to do this?” fall on your head like hailstones. Hell, of course I’m not sure! But I want to try, go and see what happens. It doesn’t make it any easier. The problem is that no matter how many times you will answer “Yes, I want to go.”, the answer simply doesn’t seem to satisfy them. They expect only one and you ain’t providing it. They really hope you will shout in their faces: “April Fool’s!” and they won’t mind if it’s June already.
Secondly, your decision is followed by guilt-inducing argumentation. “Why are you running away?”, “Will you really leave all of us here?”, “You know that your grandparents are old and you should be close to appreciate the time spent with them?” or “What do you think you will be doing in ten years?” are just a tip of an iceberg. I had a really long talk with my father once, during which he tried to explain to me that juggling, fireshows and travels are all fun but I should do them in my “spare time”. First I should go to work, earn money normally and then when I will have vacation I can go somewhere for a week or two. After that I should go back, work and wait for another holiday time. Everyone around you acts like you’re hurting them with your decision and tries to drive you into guilt. Some manipulations are almost sweet – grandma’s dinner with my favourite food was heart warming. Until she said that in foreign lands I won’t get such delicacies. Others are just cruel – my mum shown me so much disappointment that I missed my cousin’s wedding.
This leads us to the third point – disappointment. And the fourth – manipulations. And the fifth – anger. And so on. The problem is that apparently acceptance never comes. When I think everything is okay now, they start from the square one. And it is going on for years now.
And so it is – I never was extremely close with my family. Unfortunately now, when I left to fulfil my dream – travel around the world, the bonds with my relatives loosened so much I keep in touch with them more as a habit than need. Sometimes it saddens me, especially that Niki has wonderful relationship with her Mum but I accepted it quite some time ago. However, Niki’s family acts quite similarly, maybe with few exceptions but even her mum, who is a really cool woman and she seemed to accept our way of life, went back to the subject and tried to convince us to grow some roots.
I can’t say the same thing happens with friends. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to endure the distance trial. When you study, work or simply live in one place you can have lots of friends around. Girlfriends, boyfriends, old friends, best friends, pick one. Or all of them. When you travel you go back to the place you have already visited once a year. Sometimes even less. You make great friends on the way, that’s true, but how many of them keep in touch with you for longer? It’s nice to have all those people around you but in the end even if you have Skype, Facebook and mobile phones how many of your friends will last? In my experience – one or two are quite a lot. When you come back to your hometown after a year or two you meet your friends and every time you talk you realize you have less and less in common subjects with them.
Maybe I am just bitter, I don’t know, but I realised during these few years that keeping contacts and bonds with friends and family when you are a gadabout is so much more difficult and staying in touch with them is sometimes real pain in the butt. More, sometimes you can’t get online for a week or more and everyone either gets angry, panicked or gods know what else. As a result of my travels I can only see my relatives from time to time and every conversation with them makes them confused and wondering how crazy I must be. Funny, as I think exactly the same about them. How can they just be in one place without travelling, seeing places and experiencing the beauty of life? We don’t understand each other and they can’t accept my way of life.
That’s why I’m so happy I found Niki and that we can travel together. Because it’s so hard to find a soul-mate who will share the joy of vagabonding. I think, in the end, travellers are lone wolfs and if they are not lucky, they stay alone for a long time.
And what about you? What is your relation with your family, friends, do you share my experience or you are lucky to have full support in what you do?