Is it too early to want to go home? Is 3 months not already enough of self-inflicted discomfort? With a newly reestablished appreciation of it, I dream of a soft bed and a close fridge. Oh to hang out with a variety of people, to have the joy of a Friday afternoon, shower, freely use luxury products, drink Champagne from delicate glasses, and eat foods I love, foods I have tailored over 20 years and to experience professional versions of those foods at a restaurant. To carry nothing but a wallet and a notebook, if even that, as I get into a BMW, or the ferry across the harbour, free of the weight of a bicycle that is heavier than I am strong.
If this sounds like whining (it definitely does, your forgiven if you think so), then let me explain. This is everything I could of dreamed off. This is perfect. This is the level of intensity I need to keep away any self-hate about being lazy or unaccomplished. If I amount to nothing at least I can say ‘ I cycled around the world’. It’s a safety net for any deathbed regret, that I did at least achieve this one thing. I am happy to be pushing this hard, to be sunburnt (sort of), I am eager to be exposed to lives that haunt me and that fight the idea that we live in a globalized world. I am looking forward to an even greater yearn for a home, a job, for fruit salad, for clean clothes.
Alistair Humphreys, a hero of mine, cried for the first year as he traveled by bike around the world, he wrote a few books, sectioning his travels. He entitled his first book Moods of Future Joys. So you can imagine that it was about the misery he endured and getting through that uncomfortable barrier on his way to the gold that comes later – the classic journey of hardship and reward. I’m pretty positive that I am on that same path.
Every time I climb a hill the same hardship-reward principle comes into action; the difficulties arrive, often some tears, the feeling of inability to continue on, the want of something comforting, pushing past that barrier and the inevitable soul changing end point. Really the harder it is the more glorious the reward. So when I say I want to go home, to find something to complain about in my mothers cooking, or get a promotion, I don’t really mean it. I just want to acknowledge that the want is there. That this isn’t a holiday, this is a journey dammit!
Annnnnd what a journey it is. It is immeasurably hard, physically (durrr) but mostly mentally. Even though I can see that we have covered ground and there are hints of personal growth in the over-all picture, there is a daily struggle to see my achievements. I am weaker, slower, and uglier than the person I spend all my time with and I have to fight to feel a sense of accomplishment. When I find myself saying ‘you’re doing a good job’, unusually when I am climbing up a hill, however slowly. Dan will roll back down the mountain after already climbing it himself, and because I’m taking so long he had started to worry about me. Then charging back up the hill only to wait again, I will find him sitting reading a book, writing in his journal and with his jumpers on to keep away the chill. I have to fight not to be embarrassed, not to feel like a failure, because I was only just half way, not even close and he thought I was taking too long, how embarrassing. But of course, many people would say ‘it doesn’t matter how I get there, it’s just that I do’. But it’s pretty demoralising to know that that is your only way to being proud of yourself.