Travel Journals

98950029My first big trip abroad was to America with my dad when I was 10 years old (I turned 11 when I was there – a little fun fact). Since that first trip, despite what must be constant disappointment, my dad has encouraged me to write a travel journal, to the point of buying me journals for Christmas and showing me his old ones for ideas. I have attempted many times to keep a journal. I have failed. Every. Time. When I’m 85, I will be telling someone about my expedition to the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan and I will want to tell them how much it costs to hire a car from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to Sarhad in Afghanistan, and I won’t be able to because I’ve probably got a woefully incomplete journal somewhere that will tell you an amusing story about someone with bad body odour on the flight over and maybe a note about the soviet style architecture and wide boulevards in Dushanbe and then it will end abruptly with pages and pages of blankness. What you definitely will not find is the cost in Tajikistani somoni of a car journey to Afghanistan. Alternatively my dad will be able to give you the full cost breakdown of his overland trip from London to Australia (also via Afghanistan) and probably the names of all the other people on the bus he was on. A part of me is envious of this level of detail and the ability – with the help of the written word – to have total recall (I’m writing this listening to a podcast about Arnold Schwarzenegger, I can’t help it) of such journeys. But I obviously don’t envy this ability to the extent that actually gets me to do the same. And that’s the thing. How important is something to you? Is there something that you’d like to do but just don’t? Maybe you want to run a marathon but never sign up or you’ve always wanted to learn the guitar but somehow you just don’t. It’s all about agency. We all have complete agency or the potential for complete agency over our actions. As Yoda says “Do or do not. There is no try.” (actually Yoda has some amazing things to say about religion and philosophy and I’ll come back to him some other time) and that really is our lot in life, we can either do something or not do something and we make the choice whether to do it or not every day. Sure, if you want to be an astronaut or Olympic athlete, there’s competition, which might stop you but to learn an instrument or run a marathon, that’s up to us (in fact you could run 26.2 miles right now and you will have run a marathon, it doesn’t have to be an organised event – the original marathon wasn’t, it was just one guy). In my case, and the point of this post, is to write a travel journal. It sounds great and I’ve had a go but I just don’t want it badly enough. I apologise to future generations who will be denied the right to read through my Hemingway standard (or even better, we’ll never know) journal entries in dusty tomes kept in the only place suitable for such high quality prose – the vault at the British Library – but it just isn’t going to happen. I’ve let it go (or have I?), and just let the good shit stick. What’s your good shit? Learning the spoons? Eat 100 marshmallows without pause? Do or do not.

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