Travel inspiration oftentimes comes in strange ways. My father said golden opportunities come only once in our lives. If we’re lucky, really lucky, maybe twice. But that’s it, and then we’re on our own. I always wanted to be a traveler and a writer, I’d been writing since my early teens.
So when I saw my golden opportunity come, that sudden chance backed by perfect circumstance, I packed up and took off without a second thought. Did I mention this perfect opportunity arose from a gun-point robbery?
Yes, that’s right. My travel inspiration was a veiled twist of fate.
You really think twice about all that you’ve done, what you’ve become, and what your life means when you’re on the ground at one in the morning with a gun to your temple, and four cracked-out kids screaming at you for money.
To think that your life could be extinguished at any moment, after all these years of independence, of schooling, of career-tracking–all gone with the simple pull of a trigger–now that really puts life in perspective.
I can’t tell you what led my robbers to run off. One of them panicked, he wanted to shoot me, there was an argument between him and the others that seemed to last for about an hour, which really was less than twenty seconds, and then a long silence.
A cool breeze kissed my cheek which made me wonder if I was dead and this was what afterlife felt like. Several minutes later I was up on my feet, eyes fixed on that ocean of stars. Thanking God.
That night, a different part of me was born.
A part torn from the original self, from that man who was used to planning everything, a part which opened the way for spontaneity. My travel inspiration, once subdued, now renewed.
What resulted from this experience was two phone calls: one to check that the robbers hadn’t wiped out my bank account and the other to book a plane ticket. Where to? Indonesia. Why there? Because it’s the first country that came to mind, don’t ask me why.
Call it fate.
Within three days I made the arrangements: I quit my job and put my home and car up for sale. The hardest part was saying goodbye to all my friends; you can imagine the shock this sudden escapade had on them, compounded by the lack of a clear return date. This trip would be just me and my writing and it would be open-ended.
This travel inspiration wasn’t about opportunities or looking for a job abroad.
Who said opportunity was even about money? Isn’t real opportunity a shot at happiness, I mean real, true happiness? The kind which makes you think “Yes, I love what I’ve become” when a gun is pressed to your head at one in the morning?
I tried not to look back, for what would I gaze at but a certain sadness, or an instinctive regret, that of missing my close friends and family. So from the United States I followed by travel inspiration West; by sea, by air, by land; from Miami to San Francisco to Taiwan, finally arriving in Jakarta two days later.
The romance of this nomadic start reminded me of the stories of old—those of voyages to locales far and exotic and sometimes dangerous—like those you might find in a Jules Verne or Henry de Vere Stacpoole novel. Travel inspiration and artful journeys canvassed by great explorers before us. Tales forgotten by the hustle and bustle of our modern day lives.
Not only this, I finally started writing daily, and a lot.
Two to three thousand words a day. I didn’t even write that in a month back at home.
When I looked up at the night sky of a different hemisphere, I was left to wonder…