Published: August 18th 2011August 17th 2011
"The road is life" - Jack Kerouac
As I have travelled, across Asia, New Zealand, Australia and California, I have, by many and various people, been christened with the nickname, 'Supertramp'. This, along with one of my bosses telling me I travel like no other person she has ever met before, is one of the greatest compliments I have been given and I hear it with a swell of pride. To me Supertramp isn't just a name of a band or a character in a film, it is a persona, a way of being that I aspire to. Supertramp is the shining adventurous corner in each of our hearts that dreams of endless horizons, longs to get going and stay gone. I like to think that once in a while, at my wildest, I am him. I am Supertramp.
I'm sitting in San Francisco airport waiting on my flight home after nearly a year away. My head is a flurry of emotions at the prospect of a return to familiar faces and places but, strangely, apprehension is the star of the show. Without a doubt I'm excited and eager to see old friends and family again and make up
for a year's absence but I'm also distinctly nervous in the same way a man returns warily to a cage he sprung free from a long time ago, keeping his eyes on the way out. Though the bars are broken and the door hangs loose there is an irrational fear that, with a return to old people and old ways, it may slam shut once more. What travelling has afforded me, among many things, is the chance to take myself to places where people have no idea what to expect from me, which allows me try out different parts of my personality. Though people at home know me very well there are also shades of me they have never seen and may never know. I have changed and progressed towards an understanding over the past year, and though I feel the best memories and stories are to come, I will always remember this year as the most significant because it has been the forging of a new soul, a freer wilder soul that seeks to explore the limits and possibilities of its existence. Society no longer has anything on me. I don't want a degree, or career, or a house
with a shiny new car on the drive and big TV in the living room. All I want is love and madness. I no longer feel any pressure to make something of myself or achieve anything. There is nothing I feel I have to do. In our dying moments being a great man will mean for nothing, it is the memories, the things I have done and the places I have seen that will comfort me, the knowledge that I made the most out of life and that I enjoyed it. Your soul lives on not through your accomplishments but in the hearts and memories of those you loved along the way. The most important thing I have learned is that life is meaningless, utterly without significance, and far from being depressing that knowledge liberates you from all those imaginary obligations you burden yourself with and frees you to got out and do everything you have ever wanted to do and dreamed of doing. If you achieve one thing in life, achieve happiness. I believe that our lives are a constant struggle between our civilised minds and our untameable hearts and that too often we ignore the wants of our
hearts for what is deemed right in the eyes of those around us. Over the past year I have ignored the sensibility of my mind and surrendered myself to the whims of my heart and followed it like a compass, a compass spinning madly in a thousand directions, “from one falling star to another”. As I have travelled I have pushed my idea of a 'rambling man' further and further, with Chris McCandless' wanderings as a blueprint, seeking to remove comforts from my life and open myself up to new and challenging experiences - for life is a choice between comfort and adventure. Comfort is opposed to happiness. Comfort is the absence of pain or pleasure, whereas happiness is the balance of both. Nietzsche had this idea of the “religion of comfortableness”, that those who see pain as an evil hateful thing can know little of true happiness. By simplifying my life I have begun to appreciate a lot more – a good meal after months of noodles, the smile of a stranger after not seeing a soul for weeks. I have gone days without eating, I have lived on the streets and slept in parks, I've had shit stolen,
I've been dead broke and dog tired but I have never ever been happier because for all of this I have also witnessed the most perfect sunsets brushed with vivid colours that existed only for that moment, I have dreamed beneath a blanket of stars in the outback, slept on the windswept sands of beautiful desolate beaches, I have met good people and made great friends. This is my life now, and I was made for it. I could never ever go back to the stiffled existence I led before, which is why, as excited as I am to be coming home (and don't get me wrong, I'm very excited, almost giddy) I don't think I would be able to board that plane if if I hadn't already booked flights back to Australia.
What I love most about travelling is the feeling when I hit the road, get my ride and that sense of liberation rushes through my veins and swallows my every concern, banishing them to the forgotten recesses of my mind. In these moments reality is suspended, time is meaningless and I'm just going and going, watching that strip of bitumen stretch out endlessly from beneath the
headlights and racing towards the horizon, promising to take me there. But the greatest things in life come at a cost, there can be no happiness without pain and for all the wonderful gifts of my new way of life there is one heartbreaking sacrifice I must bear and which, in moments of solitude and reflection, stabs at my lonely soul – for every good person I meet, for every friend I make, for every girl I fall in love with, I must say a goodbye not knowing when, or if, I will see them again. This lack of sustained relationships is undoubtedly the hardest thing about these wandering ways and in my darkest moments I desperately crave, like a junky craves his needle, someone who knows my heart and understands my soul and can hold me and tell me everything will be all right. It is because of this that I know I will not do this forever. I dream of one day finding a place where I can feel free and a girl I love and under the glory of the sun we'll live our happy little life together. But for now, with my heart still hungry, I
point myself at the road once more and howl to the sky 'LONG LIVE SUPERTRAMP!'.
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