October 11, 2014
After being in SE Asia for 2 days I have a real sense that my trip is actually just starting now. In the first 6 weeks, I learned an immense amount about how to travel, what works well or not, what tires and what invigorates, what level of comfort I really appreciate (a decent mattress and hot shower every few days) and what pre-conceived notions really don’t bother me (cockroaches, rats and dorm rooms). Once in Australia, a cull of non-essentials brought my total pack weight down to 14 kg so the actual process of moving around has become streamlined and much less tiring. Apparently “hurry up and wait” is par for the course with this kind of travel so best to drop the “Hurry up” part and maintain my sense of “Fiji time.”
Besides discarding physical stuff, this trip is also very much about stripping away my default roles of “mother” and “harpist”. At the beginning of the trip, it was a huge but essential challenge for my ego to let go of those titles. It surprised me just how hard it was to meet people without including some words about what I do.
In our daily lives, we have such a propensity to define ourselves by our jobs as well as to judge others by them. Work becomes such an integral part of our identity but it can also become a safe place behind which we can hide our real selves – even from ourselves. Although I have been the recipient of jokes about going off to “find oneself”, I am discovering that this is a hugely important aspect of this trip.
My entire life has been imbued by a passion for the harp, so my identity has always been connected to my instrument. Now that I’ve had a bit of time to get used to the idea – by actively forced myself to refrain from using occupational titles – I am enjoying how much freedom this gives me to meet people on a much more human level.
It turns out that travelling with “no strings attached”, both literally and figuratively, is a pretty exciting way to go!