August 25, 2005

Recapturing Childhood Excitement

Nervous excitement is all part of the dizzying preparation surrounding a round the world trip. My Dad often says that the best part of a trip is often just before you leave, the planning, the anticipation of what's to come. I hope that's not entirely true , but when I think about it now I understand the difference maybe. Once you are on that plane, you are actually doing it, and nervous anticipation is replaced with a sort of nervous energy. Something akin to a survival instinct kicks in, so that you can concentrate on getting from A to B, picking up those bags, finding your hotel. Once the holiday experience begins, you become involved in the doing and seeing, and have little time for anticipation.
I asked myself today if I really truly knew the meaning of exhiliration.
I don't think adults really experience excitement very often, I think you have to have a child-like heart to really feel it. Adults are too afraid to give into it, to let go and be carried away by it. I tried to think of the last time I really truly experienced nervous butterflies-in-the-tummy excitment. I couldnt, at least not as an adult anyway. The closest I could come was being in bed on Christmas Eve and listening to the grandfather clock in the hall, waiting for Santa, too hyped up to sleep, too nervous not to, willing the morning to come.

The thought of leaving what I know and am used to, to carve out a new path in the world on my own fills me with the twin feelings of dread and possibility. Some days one outweighs the other, on others they exist in equilibrium. As the time draws closer, I expect them to fuse as one intense emotion, so I will never really know if what I am feeling is dread or excitement....a bit like sky-diving, I imagine.
Last night I opened the Rough Guide to South America and began to read. I flicked through the sections until I landed on Peru. I'll be flying into Lima, so it's as good as place as any to begin. The more I read, the more the "What-Ifs" in my head were drowned out. The old adage "Knowledge is Power" sprang to mind, and how true it is. The vague idea of landing in Jorge Chavez airport with my life in 65L on my back and little or no Spanish is some days enough to frighten the daylights out of me. As I read through section after section of the chapter, however, underlining details of bus numbers and street maps, my confidence was re-kindled. And then, the first waves of excitement began to wash over me. The wonderful realization that I will land in Peru with no commitments, no deadlines, enough money to keep me going for quite a while, and the freedom to see and do anything I want, hit home and I couldnt stop smiling. I started to map out a trajectory through the continent.

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