Ok, let’s recap: I quit my job and I’m going cycling. Although other people keep on saying ‘he quit his job to go cycling’, there is no such relationship. While cycling is the activity that I will be doing the next couple of months, I did not quit my job because I like cycling so much, or because I really wanted to go on a cycling trip.
Three months ago, when the plan was starting to form inside my head, my reasoning was as follows: my contract will end in March, I have been working at the same company and at the same place for four years, so I want a change. I tried a couple of times to apply for jobs in Tokyo, but all the time I couldn’t help but wonder if this was really the kind of change I wanted. After all, life in Tokyo versus in life in Atsugi is not that different. Do I really dislike my current lifestyle so much that I need something completely different, or is simply changing company and city enough? And how do I find out?
Something extreme was required. Something to make me think. A trip. But what kind of trip would be extreme? Going to Africa could be considered extreme, or climbing a high mountain perhaps. Going to a distant country without knowing anything might be extreme, but the thing I wanted to avoid the most is the ‘tourist’ feeling. It’s the feeling that whatever you’re doing, you’re only experiencing it temporarily until going back to your safe little home, where you will continue whatever boring life you were used to before your so-called life-changing trip. If you already know when it’s going to end then it’s not an adventure.
So, first point: no time limit. Considering my financial status, that instantly limited the amount of options. No multi-country trip (or at least not by any fast means of transportation), no extended hotel stays, no fancy food. I want to be able to sustain myself for a long time without changing the nature of the trip when I’m in the middle of it. Cycling is the obvious choice, considering that I already have a touring bicycle and two previous trips in my past.
But why am I doing this? I thought I knew, but now I’m not so sure any more. Four years ago, when I first came to Japan, I was faced with a similar choice. Recently graduated from university, I had to choose between continuing to study or entering the corporate world of Holland and try to get a job. For some reason I always really hated the idea of just getting a job and becoming a regular worker in the Dutch IT sector. It just seemed too boring to even consider. Naturally, when the opportunity to do something different appeared I grabbed it with both hands. This time no such opportunity appeared in front of me, so I had to create it for myself. It seems that four years have passed but I haven’t changed at all. At least this time I have more world knowledge, experience and confidence. Maybe.
At first glance my reason for doing this seems to be to avoid the ‘normal’ situation of having a job, working in a company, doing daily-life things etc. I guess I avoided this fairly well by pretending to be a tourist in this country for the past four years, but I can’t continue that forever (or can I?). Looking for a goal in life is one of my hobbies, so now that I don’t have a job any more I can spend some time on that hobby instead.
The thought has occurred to me that by the time I reach Kyushu I’ll have seen about half or perhaps more than half of what Japan has to offer. Even if I decide along the way to stay in Japan, the ‘tourist’ feeling would be largely gone. Do I still want to live here knowing that I’ll be leading a fairly ‘normal’ life in comparison to before? Or would I prefer the ‘normal’ life in Holland, which undoubtedly would be way easier for me in daily life (at least I can actually read stuff in Holland).
I don’t know. For the past few days after quitting my job I’ve felt pretty crappy, and I realized that I’m really going to miss the people here. I know there was no other choice, and I know this situation wouldn’t have lasted forever, but there is a small voice inside of me saying that I can still go back. I can still find a job near here and pretend that I can do this forever. I know that this won’t happen, but it has changed my decision-o-meter to point to ‘stay in Japan for the rest of my life’ rather than ‘go back to Holland’. The trip hasn’t even started yet, and I’m pretty certain that I’ll change my mind a lot of times during the trip before reaching a final decision. Let’s just see what happens. (<– catchphrase)
Side note: I tested my tent today, and it works. It’s clean and nice, no tears anywhere, but one of the stick’s segments is kinda split in the middle. If the stick breaks along the way I’ll have serious trouble finding a place to stay every night. Maybe I should get a new tent…