I’m writing this whilst sat in a window seat onboard a Mao to London flight, having just completed my first full circumnavigation of the island of Menorca by sea kayak. Worn out with sore, sea salted blistered hands, I feel a warm glow inside me from yet another incredible trip. More lasting memories, a close bond made with a small group of friends, new skills and experiences as well as a sense of achievement.
These are not the only things I am leaving with however. A certain feeling seems to creep up at the end of each big trip, and this one is as strong as ever.
Sadness that the fun has come to an end and the challenge is over. Heart ache that the people I became so close to and have become accustomed to spending day and night with, are now all heading their separate ways. Uncertainty about what I’m doing and where I’m heading with my future. Everyone seems to have it all worked out.
Yes, feeling lost is exactly how I would describe the way I feel right now; and it’s a feeling I know well.
Most of my trips are based around a small team travelling together, for anything from two weeks to two months. For this time, we as a team share everything- food, water, a tarp to sleep under, happy times, stressful situations, laughs and lasting memories. Kayaking by day and putting up camp and cooking a big communal pot of something warm and stodgy for tea by night. We’re always busy.
Then we go home. We say our goodbyes, get on our separate flights, buses, trains and make our way back to wherever it is we call home.
All of a sudden you’re not part of a team anymore and your reason to get up every morning has changed dramatically.
You’re back to that town that you always end up going back to. You have friends all over the world but few of them are near by and most your old friends here have moved on because you’re never around. Other than seeing your lovely family, you don’t feel like there’s much here for you and you’re not really sure why you come back to this particular place each time.
But at the same time you know it’s not this town that it’s really about, it wouldn’t really make much difference where you were because it would be the same there too.
This instigates booking another trip and putting this feeling off for another time.
I had plans with someone else, admittedly a lot of them were in my head. But when the rug is pulled out from under you unexpectedly everything changes. I could have had all the maps in the world but still would have been hopelessly lost. And this wasn’t because of my poor navigation skills.