Day 280: Deep and meaningful
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
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Some of you may have noticed that I recently extended the title of my blog. I did this because what I'm trying to achieve from the journey and my writing has become clearer to me. Before it was just roam around the place, eventually getting from Sydney to London whilst seeing things that I'd wanted to see since childhood, write about it all and otherwise just play things by ear.
And this I have done over the past nine months, laid bare for all to see in this journal. It's not rocket science I know but with another three months to think things over I have been pondering more specific aspects of life and about love, the world and my own self. Travelling in the Middle East has in many regards been particularly enlightening which makes the new title even more appropriate. So I'll use these topics to discuss my ponderings further.
The world - regular readers will know that my experiences in the Muslim world have been a pleasant shock, well beyond a 'surprise' and much further beyond anything that I could have learned or grasped by staying in Sydney, despite the racial clashes there over the Christmas period.
With your feet on the ground you really see the real deal and in turn, how biased and sensationalist news media is in delivering what is tantamount to subversive propaganda to hundreds of millions of viewers across vast Western markets. It's criminal incitation really, but sanctioned by governments with vested interests in keeping the world on a knife-edge, even as the vast majority on every side wants to live quietly and in peace.
I certainly haven't agreed with everything I've seen or heard in this part of the world but in general Arabs are some of the friendliest, most generous and open people I have had the pleasure to meet. Am sure I've said that before and I still stand by it. They are not so different from us in the west at all - quite the opposite, it's that they are so similar that's the real surprise. I've heard over and over from people from Egypt to Turkey that they just want to be respected as a country and a people, to have the opportunity to work for a living, to be able to afford a wedding, house and the next in gadget, and to have a family and live happily ever after - just like the rest of us.
Now I understand that Egypt, Jordan and Turkey are pretty moderate and that there are other countries I haven't visited in the region that could be a whole different kettle of fish, but Syria has been lambasted in recent times for its more extreme views and it remains a cosmopolitan, confident nation that seems more vibrant and developed than its favoured westernised neighbours.
Sure there's a lunatic fringe. Some Muslim law and religious rites are abhorrent to the West. In some places there's not complete freedom of speech and women and the environment are treated badly. But when you think about it objectively all of these problems are, or have been, manifest in western nations too, often for many centuries before we learned our lesson.
What I'm trying to say is that we're seeking and forcing divisions with our continued poor treatment of the peoples of the Middle East that breed a conservative, often fundamentalist backlash. I mean, who are we to judge or even comment? We think we have advanced since the last Crusade, but have we really advanced that far?
Myself - In the past I've never been one to enjoy the spotlight or pursue fame in any way, preferring to concentrate on the fortune aspect of things and enjoy a comfortable life. But I eventually realised money isn't everything, which has let me engage in more creative endeavours. Now the blog is doing a lot of traffic and as I continue travelling over the next few months I hope it will do a lot more. Readers regularly write to say how much they are enjoying the travel tales, how useful it is for planning their own trips, and surprisingly, complimenting the photography as well.
So as my little baby grows I'm finding that I am a proud father and am revelling in this new-found fame. Looking back, I've rarely had the opportunity to unleash my creativity, working in less appreciated areas of business which suited my aversion to such exposure. This has probably hindered progress in some aspects of my life, but to do it now is better than never doing it.
With confidence comes opportunity. Maybe I will get to live my dream and write a blog from space one day...
One thing I continue to be disappointed with is my aptitude for quickly picking up the basics of foreign languages. It seems to be getting worse as new currencies and languages go in one ear and the old are ejected from the other! I've come to the conclusion that you can't expect to just turn up, try learning the fundamentals for a couple of weeks and expect to be satisfied with the result. In turn, my longer term goal of settling somewhere and learning the lingo is starting to become a concern. Will have to give that whole idea more thought I reckon.
Sheesh, these introspectives are damn difficult entries to write. But they do help provide a balanced picture of the whole travel experience, so I hope they are even remotely interesting because they take weeks of sweat and concentration to compose...
Love - for years I've thought my love life was a basket-case, hoping for a miracle to lead me to the 'right girl' who would magically think that I am the 'right guy' so we could get married, have kids and live happily ever after. I still have most of my 30s before me, but as they say - I'm not getting any younger. On the other hand I've always thought, 'how can I find someone that I can actually cope with as a life partner for the rest of my years?', no doubt looking for perfection whilst being far from perfect myself. The whole situation - what a mindjob!
Well, just after writing my last D&M after new year I met a couple of girls that have made me re-evaluate the whole 'over the hill' thing and start to think that love life stuff might actually work out. Maybe there is hope for me yet. If so, hooray!
I travelled with one (Mystery) in Egypt and she's coming back to Turkey for more adventures in the very near future, which will be great. Another I met above the snow-line and I thought she was fantastic too despite our short time together. Neither are what I pictured my ideal woman to be but both got me thinking that there isn't just one perfect person for you out there - there's a smorgasbord if you're willing to try and be a perfect partner for them.
Maybe women from cold climes have warmer hearts, or maybe it is just that I can be myself a little more when I'm abroad. Possibly both, possibly something else completely but with all this time to think I'm almost looking forward to settling down, making a commitment and giving love, and eventually family, a chance.
Hope springs eternal - woohoo!
Life - after meeting, getting to know and having fun with a lot of people along the way it is a shame so few make an effort to keep in contact afterwards. One of the main points of the whole travelling exercise are potential new friendships, so I make the effort to drop everyone an email after we go our separate ways in order to keep in touch. But it's rare that you actually get a reply.
Maybe some of the emails don't go through and the bounces end up in my spam box. Maybe others are avidly reading the blog and waiting for a reason to write back in the future. I suppose you can't expect much from such brief encounters but from past experience some of the most fleeting of meetings have turned into the fastest of friends, so it seems like many opportunities are lost this way.
Added to that, I haven't heard from at least half of my good friends back in Sydney since I left. Out of sight out of mind as they say. Some I do hear from regularly but others I've known for 10 years haven't even sent a 'hello' email for the last nine months, or even replied to the odd personal 'merry xmas' or 'happy birthday' messages I send on top of the 5,000 words I post each week. Cheers guys.
I hope I haven't offended anyone by going away but it looks as though I might have. Well, that's life.
If you're one of the new or old friends that I haven't heard from in a while and you happen to be reading this, purleeease get in touch. Post a comment or send an email - it will only take a minute. Go on - DO IT NOW!
To wrap up, I must admit that the trekking is wearing me out. My travel style is pretty intense, restlessly moving from one place to another with rapid regularity which naturally wears you down in the longer term. Constant new situations and keeping the blog up-to-date and entertaining means I have to be on the ball, but I must admit I like it that way even if it does take its toll. Not helping matters was that after miraculously resisting the pressure for six months through Asia, the dreaded Middle Eastern sheesha pipe finally got me smoking again. I've now stopped smoking yet again and feeling much livelier for it, but for a couple of months it was an added burden that was a major contributor to the growing lethargy.
I always knew the 9 month point was going to be difficult and it has been - but not overwhelmingly so. It still seems like I have a long way to go and quite a few things to do on my list, but I am looking forward to covering the ground and getting to them. I hope you will stay turned for the ride down the home straight.
Next entry -> Kos and Rhodes - noice!