Written June 2018
Nine weeks to go.
So what next, my mind turns to wonder. I’m on my way back from holiday and the fear of nine weeks is suddenly pressing down upon me. I have left it too late! I have left everything too late! I’m not ready! But is this just the usual fear before a journey? Nine weeks is a lot. It’s also nothing at all. Am I prepared? Was I prepared last time? Did I do it anyway? Yeah but it bloody hurt.
I guess I stretch as much as possible. Yoga is a priority. Massage too. Then gym. Then earning money. There is a lot to do. It will take a great deal of strength of mind, to manage all the energy needed. I must stay boundaried with my time, not chase money to the detriment of other needs. Fitness is the priority, money second. Gym three times a week. Plus one yoga. Plus two massages. Things to write. Inciteful blogs about journey preparation, about cultural imperialism, about the way I brand myself, about being unafraid to show weakness. Daily notes, a writing practice to prepare the ground, establish the habit for the journey, make any future books easier to write. Now, my thoughts right now are the beginning of the journey and they are all important documentation and I am letting them dissolve without capturing them. Another thing to add to the priorities list.
Six weeks to go
Six weeks to go now. Five until I quit my main job – the bakery that has trained and held and supported me in a steady lifestyle. Then a week to pack stuff, store stuff, give it away, find places for half open herb packets, unwanted hand cream, decide what I want to keep, what’s going to make it through the pause while I’m away and into my unknown life beyond the journey. I’ve collected some nice plates, a motley collection of charity shop china, I’ll keep those. But the cutlery, the hot water bottles, the bag of tea lights. Detritus, silting up the corners of my storage space. It’s time once more to brush away the stuff that clings, keeping me static.
I’ve left it too late to prepare, I keep telling myself, I’m not going to be ready, not going to be good enough. I know, this time. I know what’s ahead and how difficult it’s going to be. It’s the fear that is part of avoidance I think – if I go to the gym I have to face how unfit I am. If I step on the scales I have to face how much weight I’m carrying. I’m spending hundreds of pounds to reduce the weight of my rucksack but it seems impossible to reduce the weight of my body. Working in a bakery is no help at all – wonky croissants, grated cheese, almond paste, off cuts, gulps of coffee from 4am. But really it’s my avoidance, my response to stress.
I’m scared I won’t be fit enough and I’m scared I won’t have enough money – the two major problems with my last walk. So I work. Thats easier than getting fit. Running out of money is harder to deal with than running out of strength.
I’ve had a revelation. I need to make this journey for myself. I’ve been a bit caught up in the documentation recently, designing a new website, thinking about how to link my Instagram to my Patreon, whether to set up a mailing list, articles I could pitch to magazines, worrying about how I might fund my journey, whether anyone would pay to read my writing, my limited Facebook reach.
Is anyone interested in following another walk? Am I creating interesting content?
Then I realised I’m thinking about this the wrong way round. I’m not going to walk across Europe in order to tell people about it, I’m doing it because I want to. I’m not always sure WHY that is, why I’m choosing this, but I know I’m excited about going. When I imagine myself grubby and exhausted, sleeping fitfully in a forest in rural Ukraine, adrenalised and wakeful, I know that’s exactly the kind of adventure I’m aiming for. I feel it sometimes. The only exercise I get at the moment is walking a dog and sometimes, when we go up onto the hillsides, to the beginnings of the wilder places, away from gardens and public parks, where things grow more freely, I feel it. If I stand still and look around me, feeling the breeze blowing, a prickling of freedom starts, the wilderness at the edge of senses, the booming rush of laughing wind that is waiting to hit me as soon as I set out, let go into the roiling rambunctious breath-taking force of the world out there. I feel it out there waiting in the journey, the sequence of chance interactions, all with happiness at the end of them, and I know it’s going to be ok, once I start it. Once I get through this awful preparation stage I know this is probably going to be incredible.