“I’m pretty f*ucking scared, to be honest,” I confess to one of my best mates. Did he even ask how I was feeling or did I just blurt that out for no reason?
It’s my farewell party. We are at a bar gulping down beers like there is no tomorrow, which could well be the case for me anyway because tomorrow I’m taking off on my first long-term solo trip to Asia and Africa. We are beautifully intoxicated and before I realise that I’m opening up like an over-ripe mango, revealing all the soft flesh inside which I normally hide behind the shiny, tough outer skin.
He considers what I said for a while and finally mumbles; “Hmm… So are there, like, actual lemurs in Madagascar?”
We leave the bar late at night. I go home and blast Phil Collin’s In The Air Tonight on speakers -I know it’s a bit late for music but I need it and I’ll be gone by tomorrow anyway- and sprawl out on my bed and my mind sensibly decides to bring up all the things that could go wrong; what if I lose my wallet and my passport and have to live off the land? What if I can’t make a single fucking friend and spend the next 6 months alone? What if I die?
But the thing is that, deep down, I know that none of those scenarios is the main reason behind my near breakdown. They are all unlikely to happen and besides, I can deal with every single one of them anyway. Except, of course, for death, where I don’t really have to do anything; I just sort of sit back and let go, I guess?
No, it’s not them. What am I really scared of?
Three years have passed. After 8 months of travelling through South America, I’m in my host family’s living room in Brazil, sitting at my laptop and staring blankly at the little arrowhead hovering over the prices on the screen. The ticking clock on the screen says I have less than a minute to finalise my purchase and I feel my heart swelling and my head is telling me to just shut the laptop down and put off booking my flight back home for another day. I’m scared of putting an end to my travels and going home. But how can one be scared of home?
What am I really scared of?
When I was in Madagascar, I once saw a lemur jumping through some trees. The trees were covered in sharp thorns, but the lemur kept leaping from branch to branch. And I thought, but how can he be so sure of himself? He would be in a world of pain if he made the wrong judgement even once. But the lemur did not bother himself with such pity concerns. He just kept on doing what he knew he had to do, every graceful leap, essentially a leap of faith.
I choose a date and click proceed, and as the familiar fear creeps over me, I finally see the answer; whether I’m leaving or coming home, I’m afraid of being wrong. Back then it was what if I should have stayed home and chase the ordinary life like others and today it’s what if by going home I’m missing out on even greater adventures on the road?
I grab my credit card, punch in the numbers and finalise my booking, remembering the lemur and I picture myself as him; I know I could be making a mistake, but I’m going to take another leap of faith. And I think that leap, may just be, the whole point of this thing we call life.