The future scares me.
Not in a "the icecaps are melting" sense,* more of a "what am I doing with my life" sense.
I spend a lot of my words on this blog talking about the future. Saving for it. Planning for it. Picking travel destinations.
So imagine my surprise when I sat down one day to think about it, and I found that I had no idea what I actually wanted to do with my life.
Looking over my past posts, the plan seems pretty clear:
- Live in truck.
- Save money.
- "Retire" young and travel the world.
A painfully naive snippet from a year and a half ago captures it really well:
[My] next home will ideally be nothing more than a backpack. I'll hop around the world as passports and seasons and retirement monies allow, staying in hostels and exploring the places that words in my travel books couldn't possibly do justice.
Notice anything missing there? Like, for example, literally anyone else in my life. My friends? My family? I didn't leave a ton of room for other permanent human beings in my plans.
I don't think I was intentionally being selfish with my plans, I just think I have a tendency to idealize and romanticize, especially when I'm writing for the blog. This blog is focused on a specific (and relatively small) piece of my life, so it paints a skewed picture. I like things to be simple and clean and my ideals reflected that, to a fault. The idea of perpetual travel might make for pithy poetry, but it's not practical.
Do I want to travel? Of course I do. Every opportunity I've had so far has been an absolute blast, and I'm better off for having done each trip. But there need to be limits, there needs to be flexibility. There are big life questions that don't get answered when the plan is just "travel perpetually". Things like, "how do I take care of my aging parents?" or "what if I want to have a family, or kids?"
I didn't start thinking about these things until a series of depressing life events (some my fault, others not) made me start to question my own mortality. Sure, in the grand scheme of things I'm pretty young, but I'd be foolish to pretend I'm not getting older. It's been nearly three years since I moved to California, and it almost hurts to think about how fast that time has gone by. One of my biggest fears was complacently watching my life pass me by. I thought the truck would save me from it, keep me on my toes, but the time passed all the same. Not much has changed in those three years: I've learned a bit, I've earned a bit, and I've been a few places, but I'm fundamentally the same Brandon I was three years ago. Same truck, same routine, different year.
So, what do I do now? Well, I try to sort it all out. I sit down in a quiet room and I take a lot of deep breaths. Or I hop on my bike and ride slowly along an empty trail. I go through the same process that led me to buy the truck. I think about what matters to me and who matters to me. I think about where my priorities lie, and what happens when they conflict. I think about the things I think I want, and the things I know I don't.
And I realize that I do want to be there for my family, and at some point, I'll have to move somewhere closer to them. I realize that I do want to share my life with someone, and maybe we'll want tiny genetic hybrids running amok someday. I realize that these things don't necessarily fit in with retiring early, and I'm okay with that. It's not a race, and working for a few more years for what I care about isn't a big deal.
I'm not really sure what the purpose of this post is.
Maybe just to un-skew the proverbial picture a little bit.
*Though I find our planetary prospects pretty petrifying too.