Pre-travel blues

The day after tomorrow I will embark on a long trip to the central part of the continent. For the past few weeks, each time I asked myself how many days were left before my departure, I told myself ‘Thank God, there are still many days left.’ Tomorrow night I may feel like a prisoner on the last night before his execution. I am feeling insecure, uneasy and slightly sick for the trip. Though I started reading travel books and websites for this trip two months ago and I have spent more than 15 hours learning the language of the place I am visiting, I cannot help feeling I am embarking on a journey into an unknown. The fighting spirit and adventurous zeal I used to boast of have suddenly waned for this trip. I keep feeling I will not be able to return. I have been thinking if I should do something to ensure my belongings and unfinished affairs would be properly settled by my family should I fail to return. What am I afraid of? Natural disaster, disease, violence, financial loss, traffic accident, alcohol-induced foolery and breakdown of will-power.

This trip is an escape of mine. Until recently I do not appreciate why western country people give ‘vacation’ and ‘getaway’ or ‘escape’ the same meaning. Unlike the majority of holiday-makers I am not escaping from work at home. On the contrary, I am escaping from un-occupation. Sitting at home for two and a half months is despicable. I myself, my family and my friends will not approve of such an act of idleness and incompetence. In comparison, a lonely wandering in foreign places among strangers is less weird. Not only am I escaping from idleness and self-contempt, I am also trying to escape from worries at home. After I return from the trip I will take on an unpaid apprenticeship for 12 months. The fact that I will not earn a farthing for the 12 months is by itself depressing. The additional fact that my bills and meals will not pardon me for the period is a little bit more annoying. Finally, the uncertainty about my future beyond the apprenticeship is the biggest menace in the shadow. If I stay at home, the anxiety will crush me. If I get away, I have other things to worry about. Hopefully, if I can overcome the setbacks and hurdles during the journey, I will be able to tackle or simply withstand the future problems with more stamina.

This afternoon while I was ruminating of the risks of my journey, I recalled a slogan and a high school classmate. He, I and three other classmates of ours went on a journey to the wild west of the country in the summer of our first year in university. The journey was tough and a full manifestation of Murphy’s First Law. In the early part of our journey we encouraged each other by repeating a romantically fatalistic dictum: ‘Live or die is predestined, richness and power are allotted by heaven.’ But in the latter part of our journey we replaced this dictum by a more positive one: ‘The harder things are, the harder we must become.’ I remember how my classmate swore this with his fist clenched. My friend, where are you? I need your encouragement. For this journey into the unknown before the next journey into the unknown.

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