Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.
I don’t think I ever had any reason to care about those words before. I figured it was just an explanation for why there are so many meth labs in tiny random towns.
Recently though, it’s come to have some pertinence in my life. After recovering from bronchitis and getting about an entire week of sleep to make up for the lack of it I got on the road, I hit my bi-annual (or tri-annual) idle time.
That weird in-between time. That weird post-life-altering-experience time. That weird, what-the-heck-should-I-do-next time.
Luckily for me, my immediate decisions were quite simple. I just needed to commit to a travel plan and book flights I accrued over air miles.
Still, after the flights were booked I was left with a good month of downtime. I hadn’t gotten my online work back. I hadn’t written a blog post in months. I’d lost my freelance contacts.
I found myself just sitting around, too bored to figure out how to be less bored. Where did my tour leader family go? What happened to meeting new people and feeling like I had a purpose every day? What happened to the times even before that, when I actually felt inspired to work online?
The extrovert in me craved daily connections, a solid a group of friends…heck, maybe even a relationship. Maybe.
It was like someone wiped my slate clean and I had no idea how to deal with the free time. To add insult to injury, I could never sleep. My mind would rotate with mundane and trivial thoughts. Should I go to the gym tomorrow? I wonder if I have any good photos on my other memory card. To wine, or not to wine?
Sleep was the promise of a new day, but I couldn’t even figure out how to finish the current one. Even nights when I was obviously exhausted, I’d stay awake accompanied by my incessant apathy.
My brain and body was idle, and my devilish thoughts were slowly creating a void.
“You have no right to complain! I’d love to have as much free time as you!”
“What are you talking about, your life is easy. You live at home and travel whenever you want.”
These are the types of comments that come when you make the mistake of deciding to vent about any of the above.
Don’t get me wrong– I know an abundance of free time (especially with the prospect of new trips) are petty, petty things to complain about. I’m so thankful for my current situation. I have a room in a parent’s house. I get to spend time with my family. I get to make my own schedule and have the chance to work on personal projects (regardless of if I actually motivate myself to complete them). The problem I was struggling with wasn’t my current physical state, but my mental one entirely.
It all makes me wonder, when did being anxious, sad and confused for no current apparent reason become so offensive? When did it become necessary to prove why you just feel off?
It’s almost as if you live an interesting life (according to others, or social media) you’re never allowed to be sad, or God forbid, complain.
The Luck Topic
The idea of ‘being lucky’ has been discussed its fair share on the blogoshere, so I won’t get into it too much. Still, it maintains to be something that continuously pops up in my life of travel. Always just that little reminder to make me feel guilty for ever going through rough times, whether while working a really great job or traveling solo.
Although it was the time of my life, the summer as a tour leader still brought challenges. Putting on a happy face everyday was mostly easy, but there were still those days when it wasn’t.
The days where I couldn’t focus and my mind was spinning over a personal situation I hadn’t settled. The days where as much as I slept, I was still drained. The days where even though surrounded by people I still felt lonely, and a good solitary cry in the van was the only temporary cure.
“You got yourself into this though, you know,” is the seemingly typical response from others. ‘Others’ usually being people working a typical 9-5.
Now it’s not that I wanted to complain when I was having a bad day– maybe the word ‘complain’ is being used incorrectly in this entire post— but maybe just vent. Sometimes, you just want someone to listen and understand, not to keep reminding you that you have no right to moan.
Now, my point of all of this isn’t just to rant. It’s not to get sympathy.
It’s to try and understand why when a person who works in an office says, “Ugh, I had the hardest day at work,” we don’t respond with “well you chose that job” or “suck it up, you’re so lucky!” Instead we try to sympathize and listen. Or we don’t do either of those things, we just keep our mouths shut and nod our heads in agreeance.
It can be isolating feeling like you can’t express the bad times, regardless of what is happening in life. Even “the luckiest people” get sad, get lonely, get heartbroken.
And for us consistently on the road, we usually deal with these situations at the most inconvenient of times. Or the times without a shoulder to cry on for miles.
Thank god during my time as a tour leader I always knew there was another leader nearby, or a phone call away, who would understand completely. That supportive family was my saving grace. Sadly, during solo travels I haven’t found this as much.
So I guess if I had to sum up these 1000 words into two sentences, it would be this:
Dear cubicle worker,
If you stop telling us wanderlust-stricken nomads to quit complaining, we’ll stop telling you the only solution for your life is to quit your job and travel the world.