I had a dream once. It was a damn good dream too. It began last November. I would land in Asia, the last stop on my nomadic journey, explore everything I hadn’t seen, and re-see all my favorites. I’d visit Hong Kong, finally get to Laos, relax on the islands off Cambodia, trek the jungles of Malaysia, show my friends Thailand, and volunteer at an elephant park. It would be a great finale to an amazing journey.
And as November rolled into December, I was well on my way to achieving my dream.
Yet at the same time I had another dream. In this dream, I’d be able to run a blog, write my book, travel the region, meet new people, and party like a carefree backpacker one last time.
But alas, neither of those dreams came true. Reality got in the way.
I can’t say I’m always the most productive person. Despite doing this for years, I still have trouble balancing work and travel. I’ve gotten a lot better at time management lately, but throw in more balls for me to juggle and I just can’t do it. (Shhh! Don’t tell Problogger Darren Rowse, since I was just featured in his new productivity book!)
And this time, there were too many balls to juggle for me to keep up.
I’d planned to spend the last two months of my trip heading into northern Thailand, then Cambodia, back into Bangkok, and up into Laos before my flight home.
Instead, I only got as far Sihanoukville, Cambodia — my third stop in the country. I’ve been here a full month now as of today.
I guess I was just naïve. I thought I could do it all. I underestimated how much work a book takes. It’s once thing to write some blog posts. It’s another to put together a print-quality reference guide to world travel. As my friend and mentor Jason Cochran said, I just needed to lock myself in a room and write the book.
And he was right.
The stress and anxiety of trying to manage everything caused me to get considerable insomnia. I was up late — too tired to work but too awake to sleep. So the book progressed slower than I would have liked, and there was simply no way I could fit everything in. I could barely keep up keep up with the book and the small amount of work I did! Spending three days in the jungle just wasn’t going to happen.
Now there are only three more weeks left before I go home. I won’t be heading to Laos, I didn’t get to the northern part of Cambodia, and Malaysia never happened.
Maybe I’m just being too hard on myself. That book was a lot of work. I really underestimated how much work it would be. I’m unsure that anything would have allowed me to juggle all the balls I wanted.
I look back on the last few months and wonder if I simply wasted them. What if I’d tried harder? What if I’d worked better? What if I’d powered through the insomnia and written anyway? I’m riddled with what-ifs.
I’d like to say at least I tried. But I don’t think I did. I moped. I slacked. I got stuck in Sihanoukville, and as the days ticked closer to the end, I lost my desire to be productive and leave. “Now, there’s even less time for Laos. Might as well stay another day and work.” It was a vicious cycle.
However, last night I had an epiphany of sorts. I came to a sort of peace with it all. As I sat talking to my friend at the bar, watching the backpackers in front of me partying, I realized just how ready I was for the next step of my life. And when I realized that, it reinvigorated me. I’m ready to get off my butt and run to the finish line.
I’m going to spend the next few days on the islands off the coast of Cambodia, visit Siem Reap to re-photograph Angkor Wat, and then with the rest of my time, I’m off to Macau and Hong Kong. After that, the timer buzzes, and it’s back to Bangkok and home to the United States.
I’ve already missed a lot. I’ve already wasted too much time.
But there’s no reason to waste anymore.
I’m going to end this with a bang, not a whimper.