Walking Around the Whole World

There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk around the whole world till we come back to the same place.
— G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

This adventure has brought me everything I could have hoped: new and restored friendships, the chance to explore places I've never seen, time to truly unravel, and a return to the best parts of the person I vaguely remember being before my life became completely crazy.

Along with all of that happiness, some of my old anxieties still lurk, waiting to be tackled. Chief among those worries is money, and checking my balance this morning brought it all to the surface. I feel apprehensive when my balance drops beneath a certain threshold. Before I left, I worried about whether I would ever find a job again, if I would be able to survive on my savings, and if my loosey-goosey way of handling money would sink me.

With 3 months to go, I am just fine. I have a solid Plan B (in place since well before I left), and it's really the thought of ever needing to use that plan that distresses me, not the current state of my bank account. Though I'm nowhere close to needing my Plan B, my nature is such that I quietly stew, sifting through the coulda/woulda/shoulda's, as though every decision I've made is reversible through sheer force of will. I haven't skimped on this trip - I haven't gone crazy either - and I'm happy about that. Still, I brood about such things.

A lot of people have asked me how this trip was possible financially, and it's something that's uncomfortable for me to talk about in detail, because money is not a thing I like to talk about, though I put a lot of mental energy into fussing about it privately. Over several years, every decision I made was run through a "some day I want to go on a very long trip" filter, somewhere off in the distant future. I chose a savings goal that reflected a salary from very early in my adulthood, and with which I managed significant debt and living expenses. I thought that if I could manage so many responsibilities on that amount of money, then surely I could manage to drive around the country on the same amount of money.

I worked hard to get out and stay out of debt, got rid of a house, lived in a smaller, less expensive place, and walked away from monthly expenses that weren't adding value to my life. With less and less going out the door, more and more went into my savings account. A few months before I left, I was extremely lucky to receive an unexpected small sum of money from a family member who passed away. Since it put me over the top of the goal I'd been striving toward for so long, it was enough to give me the boost of confidence I needed to walk away from a steady salary and good benefits. Still, that's one of the hardest, best things I've ever done.

For me, it's important to say out loud those things that worry or scare me in order to reduce their power and open my mind to perspective. As someone I deeply respect recently pointed out, sometimes it's important to "throw the book at it" when there's something bothering you. So, I got a book, but I'm also working through a lifetime worth of thoughts and feelings around money, spending my time walking in the woods, practicing yoga, and trying to be mindful when I open my wallet. It feels good to finally be tackling this part of my worry list. I knew it was coming since I pretty much forced the issue, but I also knew it would hit me at the right time, just when I was ready to handle it.

I'm slowly coming back to the same place after my walk around the world and I will never fit into the spot I left behind, for which I am deeply grateful.