The Calm Before the Storm
Tomorrow I will set off on the journey I've been preparing for over the past eight months. During the past two weeks I was really stressed, not because of the journey that lies ahead of me but because I had so much work to finish before I leave.
During the past two weeks I was really stressed, not because of the journey that lies ahead of me but because I had so much work to finish before I leave.
But even with all that pressure, I was really calm about the trip. I assume my mind went into some sort of defensive mode to protect itself. However this morning the anxiety kicked in with full force. It suddenly dawned on me that I will be walking for the next 30 days straight. I won't do anything else besides walking, eating and sleeping.
As I packed my gear this morning (which I'm still surprised fits just fine in a 35L backpack) I started to question myself. Will I be able to finish what I came up with so long ago? Is my will going to be strong enough to cope with the repeating strain? And while on the outside I was all "Sure I can, no problem at all", deep down inside me, doubts gnawed away at me.
One of the stories that had a big impact on my motivation is the one of Karl Bushby, a british adventurer who set out in 1998 on the longest foot journey in the history of mankind. From Patagonia in South America he walked all the way up to Alaska and crossed the Bering Strait by foot intending to walk home to England, but then got banned from Russia for illegally entering the country. He then returned to the United States and is still waiting for his ban to be revoked. When interviewed by Alastair Humphreys, he said one sentence that really stuck with me: It would take a much stronger man than me to admit defeat.
While a strong mind is usually crucial to achieving goals, it somethings takes an even stronger mind to admit that one had been wrong. Maybe it might have been the better choice to just blow off the whole thing and go on vacation somewhere nice and sunny. Maybe it was. But for me it isn't a choice. I had set myself this challenge and I would do whatever it takes to overcome it.
Sitting on the front porch of my hotel in Vaals writing this, I feel extremely relieved. This feels right. A fear of the unknown that lies ahead but a certainty that it will be something special for me, something that will stick in my mind long after it ended. And I am glad I committed to this journey. It's weird looking forward to something, knowing I won't enjoy it while it happens. Long distance walkig is a slow, tedious activity that can drain your energy with its monotony.
But walking is the purest form of travel, not rushing from place to placr, but experiencing the change in landscape, culture and yourself. Even if it's going to be monotonous, the prospect of a trip through the whole of Central Europe does excite me a lot. Let's see what tomorrow brings.