Day 0 — Packing up my Fears

i’m finishing up packing for my trip to Iceland and the Faroe Islands. i’m equal parts excited, nervous, and impatient. i’ve been planning this trip for over a year, and now that my departure is less than 24 hours away i feel…well, i guess don’t quite know how i feel. any time you plan something as grand as touring a wintry Iceland, followed by watching a total solar eclipse on some tiny islands speckled in the Atlantic, there’s a nagging fear of disappointment. what if it’s cloudy during the eclipse? what if there’s a foot of snow in Iceland and we’re stuck in Reykjavik the entire week?

but these little fears of disappointment are more nuisances than anything. i know this trip will be breathtaking, even if we stay in Reykjavik for seven days and stare into clouds during the total solar eclipse. these fears are just silly distractions. i’m not going to pack these up.

there are other larger and more beastly fears at play, though. what if we can’t find a hostel to sleep in? what if we get a flat tire in the middle of a blizzard? what if we get lost and nobody speaks English?

at the core of these fears is discomfort. there’s very little real chance of serious harm (it’s 2015 — we have GPS, international credit cards, and smartphones with instantaneous voice translation), so death isn’t driving these fears. discomfort is. discomfort that stems from the deviation from current. it’s quite comfortable to live each day as we’ve lived the last five — there’s little fear of inertia. but to break free from inertia? to set foot on a plane, fly across an ocean, and wander around strange lands you know next to nothing about? that’s uncomfortable.

it’s this discomfort that creates the fear that holds us back in life, that binds us to our steady-state and inhibits breakthrough growth. some day, i may be so accustomed to breaking the mold that these fears associated with travel aren’t present. but today, these fears are extremely present and extremely powerful. it’s natural to either give in to these fears (not travel) or suppress them (travel, but ignore them and/or take every possible precaution), but i’m aiming to take a different path: to pack up these fears and take them with me.

this may seem like a strange approach, but i believe it is through holding on to the core of these fears and embracing the discomfort of travel that i will be able to fully experience the profound benefits of travel. let’s get started!

“Travel can be a kind of monasticism on the move: On the road, we often live more simple, with no more possessions than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance. This is what Camus meant when he said that ‘what gives value to travel is fear’ — disruption, in other words (or emancipation) from circumstance, and all the habits behind which we hide.”
— Pico Iyer, Why We Travel

“Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am…
Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes, you are forced into direct experience.
Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That’s not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating.”
— Michael Crichton, Travels

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