Relationships Travel

Nomadic Relationships

One of the things I’ve been thinking about in recent times is the issue of personal relationships when you have no fixed abode. In other words, when you’re a digital nomad, location independent person, so on and so forth. I really don’t like those labels, but let’s roll with them for the sake of the post.

I’ve been finding that my relationships with people ebb and flow between real-life relationships and those online as I move around the place and do different things. Sometimes I’m physically alone, like when I did research for and I lean on my twitter network for social interaction. Sometimes I’m hanging out with real people (for reals!) and twitter takes a back seat, as was the case on my recent roadtrip with Heather and Nicole. Online relationships are great and I have made some really cool friends through the likes of twitter, but it’s those real life relationships that I treasure most. Those are the ones that I feel a deeper connection with. It’s part of the reason I make an effort to meet up with friends when I’m in town or try and meet up with twitter people when opportunities arise. But the problem is that when you move around a fair bit, you rarely have the chance to follow up on those short meetings and therefore don’t get an opportunity to cement those relationships. (much like when you’re backpacking somewhere and meet a great bunch of people and say that you will email them soon and never do)

Man on a Bike - Nothing to do with Relationships
Man on a Bike - Nothing to do with Relationships

I have the feeling that perhaps many other people in my situation find themselves lonely. Not in the traditional hermit-in-a-cave sense, but in a going-out-and-getting-drunk bonding type of way. So what does everyone else do about this? Try and settle on an island in Thailand with other like-minded souls? Sounds great, but then you aren’t really location independent. You’re in Thailand. Drinking buckets. Attached to a bungalow on the beach.

Gratuitous Random Cupcake Photo
Gratuitous Random Cupcake Photo

I guess the ultimate for me would be this. To flit from one 3 month sojourn to another, with those sojourns often involving other individuals on a similar path. That’s what I want. But it seems that everyone is so focussed on doing exactly what they want that they forget that in order to establish meaningful relationships, it requires time and if you’re constantly moving to where you want to go, you are never going to be moving to where the next person wants to go. The solution probably requires compromise. That is, going somewhere that isn’t your first choice in order to share a bunch of experiences with other people who do want to go to a particular place.

I don’t even know where I’m going with these thoughts, but I reckon it’d be cool if more people from the twitterverse actually got together for longer term travel rather than just one-day meetups. So. There you go.

Anyone feel this way?

Java Lifestyle Design Relationships Travel

A New Chapter – Off to Java

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Learning Indonesian in Java. Well, the days and weeks roll on and I’m on the cusp of departing Australia for an unknown period of time. On the 16th of June I’ll be boarding a plane to Melbourne where I’ll hang out for a few days catching up with old friends and eating some good food. Then on the 19th, I’ll be catching a flight to Singapore where I intend to give this city nation a second chance.

I first went to Singapore in 2009 and really didn’t like it. This time I’m heading to Singapore because that’s where I could get a cheap flight to. My first thought was to burn through there as quickly as possible, but I’ve thought about it a little more and this time I think I’ll stay 4 nights. I’ll walk as much as possible, try to find top eating, decent walking trails and basically do everything I didn’t do last time. If they had a mountain, I’d climb it — but they don’t. So eating and walking will have to do.

Avenue of Lanterns in Singapore
Avenue of Lanterns in Singapore

After Singapore, I’ll head to Kuala Lumpur by bus and then fly to Bandung in Java late in June. I’ll have a couple of weeks to kill in Java before my language course starts and I’ll probably use this time to nick up into the Dieng Plateau and see a few of the natural sites that this part of the island has to offer.

But more importantly than all of these tangible activities, this signifies the start of yet another chapter for me. A quite significant chapter ended for me last year when I headed off to Bali to research and write for travelfish. That was the culmination of a long-term relationship and the start of forging a new path on my own. On reflection, the chapter I have been living over the past 9 months has been transitionary and I met some great people and did some great things along the way such as a fantastic Australian roadtrip. But when I leave Australia this time, I don’t feel like I have a home to come back to (even more so than last time) and that gives me a sense that I may well be away for much longer than the 3 months that the language course will go for — and this means a new chapter is beginning right now.

People on a Mountain
People on a Mountain - One of the wonderful experiences from the last chapter

With that in mind, I look forward to exploring what comes next — hopefully it is filled with happiness, adventure and self-improvement. If I can share that with other like-minded people, that would be great too. Here’s to a new chapter.

Lifestyle Design Relationships

Symbolic Departure

Today I leave Melbourne. Destination Bali to write the Bali edition of Travelfish’s travel guides. I don’t plan to return to Melbourne. I was asked the other day if I felt my journey to Bali and therefore the conclusion of my time in Melbourne was symbolic. Symbolic in that it’s the finalisation of the separation from my wife. I responded by saying “no” because it didn’t feel like it… But now it does. I really do feel like today is the end of a chapter and the start of another and the page turns without even a hint of sadness. Sure, we can all talk of what could have been, but I look forward with optimism and renewed passion for the journey ahead.

So what have I learned through the process? Well, the main things that I have done well revolve around positive energy. I’ve tried my hardest to remain optimistic, tried my hardest to get out there and socialise (not always successfully!), did my best to accept the inevtiability of the situation immediately (ie didn’t hang on with false hope), held no grudges or bad feelings, did my best to not revel in the victim role which many many people would have me be in (they felt pity), and most of all, I got on with my life. I see these as contributing to the emotional place that I am in now and I love it.

I’ve tried to think of things that I could have done better but I just can’t find any at the moment. I really do feel fortunate to have had things turn out as they have.

So it all sounds as if everything for me is beautiful and that this journey was easy. It wasn’t. Introspection, which I think this process necessarily involves, requires complete honesty with oneself, the ability to observe your thoughts and the ability to tame ones ego. I’m no messiah when it comes to this stuff, but I did try hard and it was difficult at times.

So on the eve of a new adventure, I urge everyone to: not judge, reject cynicism, live pro-actively and above all, remain optimistic even when every bone in your body tells you not to be.


Demarried on Facebook!

When my wife and I recently decided to separate, we knew there were going to be some awkward moments ahead.  Many of these we knew were going to be focussed on letting friends and family know what was going on and making them feel OK about it. But we’re now in a brand new social networking era where if you update your status in a certain way, people are going to be able to read into it without having explicit knowledge of what is going on.  And this specific issue caused us a bit of a dilemma.

We didn’t want to announce to people that we were separating prior to us getting our heads around what it really meant for us, what our immediate plans would be and what sort of reasons we were going to give to explain this unexpected event. So in order to not give the game away too quickly and be left with awkwardness, we chose not to do status updates on Facebook for a good few weeks. But after a while when we’d figured out what we were going to tell people and how we were going to tell them (a status update for us wasn’t going to cut it) we decided it was time to act.  So we directly messaged as many people as we could, emailed friends and family (we’d previously spoken to our immediate families) and then did the funniest thing I’ve ever done. We demarried each other on Facebook. What an absolutely bizarre and ridiculous thing to do. I just found the whole thing so odd – and I don’t even know why! Also had a good laugh.  Ridiculous!

Why is this such an odd thing to do? Any budding psychologists out there?


Marriage Break-Up: Pre-Moving Out

The catalyst for me starting a new blog is the break-up of my 12 year relationship with my good friend and wife.  We had previously been writing for and made a good go at blogging, lifestyle design and a new way of living.  So rather than getting down into the doldrums about a break-up, I thought I’d write a little bit about it.  Since the decision was made to separate, I’ve been documenting my feelings and reactions to the whole process.  To date (and prior to moving house), these are the key points:

Shock – For me, this was accompanied by a kind of numbness that meant I wasn’t emotional.  In this stage I was very clinical and matter of fact.  I did, however, lose my appetite completely and gain a new friend which I call an “Anxiety Ball”.  Essentially, this was a terrible tension in the stomach area that wouldn’t allow me to focus on anything else except the issue at hand.  Most of this lasted about a week from the decision to separate.

Fear – One of my big fears was about the future.  I had not given any thought whatsoever about my direction without my wife and this meant I needed to act quickly to determine what the best course was.  The problem was that most options seemed so backward given that I’d recently left a career, a house and relocated to a new city for a new life.  My initial reaction was to head back to the safety of what I knew – a full-time job, move back to my old city and try and get some “normality” back into my life.  After pondering these thoughts for about a week, I had a revelation and came up with a solution which is not much different from what I was going to do with my wife anyway.  It’s just that this solution is more independent than before.

Optimism – Many believe our feelings are beyond our control and that our frame of mind is fixed by our moods.  There is some merit in this, but I believe that with strength, we can shift our moods.   In times such as these, it would be easy to be pessimistic about the future.   It’s the default position for most people, me included, and one in which we feel entitled to.  Well, we may well be entitled to pessimism, but wallowing in our own self-pity won’t get us very far.  Optimism is king here and I think it’s worthwhile steadfastly sticking with optimism even when it feels good to wallow in self-pity.

So whilst all this sounds terribly depressing, it doesn’t need to be!  If we allow ourselves to be slaves to our emotions, we can easily fall into the abyss.  So I think the first step is to recognise that significant life changes are all part and parcel of life itself and with significant life change comes discomfort.  I say a big, “Hello!” to Mr. Discomfort but, “you can bugger off if you’re going to try and drag me down.”

For many people in relationships that are heading down the Lifestyle Design path, the issue of the relationship itself is quite often off topic.  As I move forward, I plan to give more thought to how relationships both enhance and hinder the Lifestyle Design process.  Happy to discuss!