Bart Och - Travel Journalist

Maybe I was naive to think that it is as easily done as it is said. Or maybe I was grasping at straws seeking some kind of revolution in a life that was beginning to feel static. I ached for something to make me feel alive, and I was desperate to find something to live for.

The last time I felt this way was in the 12th grade. I was counting the days till the end of the senior year not because I was dying to go to a university, but because I couldn’t wait to leave this town, this country. I wished for nothing more than I did then but to be as far away as possible from everything I became so familiar with over the years. I wished for nothing more but to get a hold of my life, to make my own choices and face the repercussions on my terms.

And this time too, abruptly, although foreseeable – don’t know when exactly – I was overcome by exhaustion, by my own failures, by anger at everyone who was living my dreams, by resentment of anyone who told me to suck it up. I fell apart. I fell short. I was humbled by the abiding realisation that other people my age had it all figured out while I was still working at the bar serving beer and coffee.

Sometimes, you spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you will escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going. But you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.

I have seen this happen to people before, and I was afraid it was happening to me too. Empty promises, mostly the ones we make to ourselves, become self-inflicted wounds stitched with some kind of cheap excuse. The wound eventually heals, leaving a regret-shaped scar that won’t fade away to remind you of all the things that you did to yourself. Or, perhaps, the things you didn’t do.

We talk about desires, we make grand plans and mental notes, we infest our minds with ideas and invest so much hope just so we can merely taste the dream we are, in reality, too scared to wish for it to come true. Fear takes over your whole life, and before you know, just before you run out of gas, you had driven yourself to a dead end.

I too am inherently and naturally an incredibly fearful person. I am afraid right now. I woke up afraid. I am going to go to bed afraid. I was born afraid. I have always sort of been tremulous with fear. But my only saving grace in my life is that I am one per cent more curious about the world than I am afraid of it, which is how and why I had booked myself on a flight to Iceland before I even knew how to pitch a tent. Yes, I was terrified. I was concerned. I was restless. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was an amateur. Above all, I was done hiding from the entire world forever in a darkened room with a damp cloth on my forehead. I needed to go. I did.


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