The Chronicles of Edinburgh, Part XXIII – Thoughts.

I’m not entirely done with all the other stuff I have to get up yet, and I’ve only barely exported my photos from Lightroom (not even the web versions yet) but I wanted to do this before I stopped caring, a la Oxford posts from this morning.

We met a new friend this weekend while in Glasgow. He gave up a stable life of law and finance to become a travel blogger out on his own in the world. And at first glance, it’s so crazy it almost sounds…well, unnerving, I suppose. To give up everything you’ve ever worked for in order to pursue something so…immeasurable. What does one get out of it, at the end of the day? No awards, no prizes, no money, no recognition. Nothing that we’ve all be trained to see as important.

Lol, but that’s mighty close-minded of me, isn’t it? In our little bubble of college life (especially at Bentley), we tend to think that everything is just…the same as what we’re used to. Not even going to get into the cliche we-are-so-lucky-that-we-are-full-at-night (though we are) argument, just even on an already spoiled scale…(is this even making sense?) Coming to RHUL reminded me that there’s more outside of just finance and accounting, that people (lots of people, actually) study just history and literature and art and have really no idea what they’re going to be doing after university, and that’s totally fine with them.

I’m used to asking my friends questions like:

  • If you could do anything, what would you do? Assume there are no financial consequences.
  • If you had no familial responsibilities, would you still be studying what you are currently?
  • What do you want to do after you retire?
  • Where do you really want to be? What do you really want to do?

We base our conversations off these topics, don’t we? We dream of what we could be doing instead, what we would actually really love to do with our lives instead of what we’re doing now. It’s pretty much a given (at least in my circles) that unless your passion in life is physics (or something equally impressive), you’re not doing what you really want to be doing. Dreams of becoming an international dancing star or a world class chef, maybe even a video game designer, are pushed to the wayside to make way for the more stable opportunities that will lead to a comfortable lifestyle for you and your future family.

When I asked my travel buddy what she “really wanted to be doing, if there were no financial consequences and no threat of a declining reputation”, she just stared at me in confusion. I repeated the question in a different way, thinking maybe it was just how I worded it. She gave a vague answer and I gave a vague response, thinking that maybe it was a communication problem on our part, and we went on our merry way. A week later, we came across this topic again and I asked her essentially the same question – “What would you want to do if you could do anything in the world with no negative consequences?” She went on to reiterate her current life plan, probably thinking I’m the worst person in the world for not remembering something she’s repeated at least three times by now, and then I finally, finally realized – she’s doing what she actually wants to be doing! (which is performance music, by the way.)

Maybe that’s not as mind-boggling to others as it was to me (and probably a lot of my friends), but the idea that she was actually…”living her dream”, as it goes, was just. I’ve never heard it happening before. It was like a fairy tale come to life. While we’re freaking out in the student center because that one student recruiter hasn’t remembered our name yet, others are just…letting thing come as they may. But as much as I’d love to let myself do that, it’s just too out there, too open for interpretation.

But even that’s close minded – we’re still in that tiny, tiny group of college people. Let’s open this a little bit more to…just those of us in first world developed countries who have the luxury of even imagining a life of travel. Which brings me back to the beginning – our new friend!

Who just…travels. I wish I was brave enough to just give up everything and travel for the sake of traveling. I came back and asked a couple of my friends if they would do the same, and if they enjoyed traveling at all, and it made me realize that most people in our shoes (me included, most of the time) see traveling as vacation, exclusively. But it’s not, is it? It can be, but it doesn’t have to – it can be just as tiring and demanding as a full time job. And rewarding, but in different ways.

I stood on top of the world last weekend. Or I thought I did. Looking back, though it was still awesome (as in, awe-some, awe-inspiring), that was hardly anything. It was just a small mountain on a small hill in tiny Edinburgh. How many more sights are there to see? We can’t really ever finish it all, can we? There’s always going to be so much stuff that we’ll never understand, never see, never come into contact with, and never even care about. We’re so freaking unimportant and minuscule and all we can hope is that we can make a difference in some tiny sort of way – or at least that’s what most of us are aiming for. Is that even the right goal to be chasing after?

Holycrap the world.

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