No one enjoys an uncomfortable encounter, but what if it helps to make some parts of your life clearer? Maybe we need more awkwardness in our lives in order to keep moving in the right direction.
A few months back, I was outside my parent’s house and a neighbour from across the street came over to where I was loading my car. Let’s call this neighbour Deborah.
We chatted about the usual stuff- the weather, work and so on. She then asked about my travels and I told her the plans of my upcoming trip. Deborah then promptly began lecturing me and told me it was about time I came back to the ‘real world’.
For my parents’ sake I politely smiled and changed the subject to how nice her garden was looking.
Anyway what’s the point of doing or saying anything different to someone like Deborah, if she doesn’t get it now then she never will, right?
Initially I felt annoyed about how Deborah disregarded me and my lifestyle. She obviously just saw me as a waster and wasn’t aware that I work hard when I’m away. Deborah doesn’t know
that I’ll be working long hours to earn very little money, training to be stronger, exerting myself to paddle the best I can and complete physically and mentally exhausting expeditions; as well as studying in my spare time.
Deborah doesn’t know I’m continually trying to better myself and my abilities.
The next day I thought about it again. The day I saw Deborah was a Saturday. I had been in and out the house all day, running errands, unloading and reloading my car, sorting through kit and so on. It is because of this, that I knew that Deborah had spent that entire day cleaning her garage door.
She had spent all week at work then spent one out of her two days off work cleaning her garage door. And I already knew that she spent Sundays at church.
I no longer felt annoyed. In a way I felt a bit sad for Deborah. The fact that she couldn’t relate to why I would want to see the world suggested that she herself had never experienced any of the beautiful, interesting sights the world had to offer outside her hometown. Because surely if she had, she would understand right?
Or then again, maybe she had and it wasn’t for her. Or maybe it just didn’t interest her. Maybe her hometown had everything she wanted and it made her happy.
Either way it was her opinion and she was entitled to it. We are both free to have our own thoughts and will more than likely make assumptions about each others lives.
Deborah’s real world includes a steady job, a warm house, a reliable car, a nice garden and a spotless garage door. My real world includes mountains, jungles, forests, rivers and lakes.
And that’s ok because we are different people, living our own different individual lives. Neither of us are winning or loosing, because at the end of the day life is not a competition.
Each of us are here for an unknown amount of time and we are lucky enough to use that time as we wish.
I know this probably isn’t how I want to live forever and I definitely understand that not everyone would like to live the way that I do, but that’s ok it’s their choice.
And it’s also my choice. And I choose to not be Deborah.
I’m going to carry on being Sal for a while longer.
Who are you going to be?
Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.
Photos: Eli Castleberry and Sal Montgomery