This final article featuring Kevin Lu and Joe D’Amelio’s cross-country road trip, #RoundAboutUSA, describes the last of their 74 days on the road.
One of my wandering friends, Kevin, just finished this trip across the United States (see linked article, especially for their gorgeous photography). Apart from being insanely jealous of him and his travel companion – which I am as I’ve never done the quintessential cross-country roadtrip – I really resonated with what he said in his last post about coming home. Here’s what really got to me the most:
I felt stuck between wanting to appreciate and experience all the newness and wanting so desperately to have some quiet time at home… What wore me down the most was the fact that I had been homeless for more than 2 months. It was difficult to have no physical and emotional anchor point to retreat to day in and day out…
That is a common feeling I get when I’m out adventuring, specifically on longer trips and those with more free-form structures to them. No matter what delights present themselves each day, if you’re on the road alone (or even with an acquaintance or friend), it begins to draw on your energy reserves. You want to fit is as much as possible – “God forbid we miss an essential site and when will we get a chance to see that again?!” Relinquishing myself to the spontaneity of the trip is one of the things I look forward to the most, but it is what is most likely to bring me to my knees by the end. Decision fatigue.
But that’s not what surprised me. I expected that experience to translate from one adventurer to the next. What was surprising was how much more I’ve been feeling like this occasionally in my day-to-day life. I concede that I am currently facing a peculiar arrangement – being under such high stress conditions while isolated on an island thousands of miles from my family isn’t exactly commonplace. But this doesn’t excuse the fact that despite my lovely apartment, the gorgeous scenery, and my supportive friends here, I still feel occasionally “homeless.” It’s this transient sense of floating adrift at sea, or more precisely and vigorously: a continuous upheaval. It may not be just the separation from family, but even more so the uncertainty of the future. Not knowing if the work I’m doing now will pay off in the long run; not knowing if and where I’ll be working in a few years or what specialty I’ll be in. There’s a lot of faith that “everything will be okay” and “it’ll all work out” that gets tossed around among my classmates here in medical school, but it’s hard to shake that nagging voice in the back of my mind that sporadically peaks out and replies, “Will it, really?” I guess I just have to keep the faith.
At the same time, Kevin’s travel companion, Joe, succinctly described his feelings once arriving at home:
“[My father] seemed to sense that something was bothering me. ‘What’s the matter?’ he asked. I looked at him and shrugged. ’Now what?’… I will forever be a man on the move, dreaming, wondering, searching, for the answer to the everlasting question: ”what’s next?“
This, too strikes a chord with me. I know that as unsettled as I sometimes feel here, there is a reciprocal sense of agitation that takes over once I have settled in back in at home. I am restless, chomping at the bit for the next opportunity to walk out the door with nothing but a vague sense of where I’m going and a backpack stuffed with gear to handle any destination.
This is the paradox, and in resolving it I find the root of happiness in my life.
Follow my fellow adventurers on Instagram and Twitter @sweatengine (Kevin) @sittingingodspalm (Joe)