My worn black high top all stars crunched across the gravel on a crisp May morning, the path wending me out of The Assistens Kierkegaard, and to the end of what had been of a grand bit of life. The journey was over, the return was imminent, my journal complete, legs tired, and soul filled. I had written a concluding post for the journey, as I naturally expected too with the previous being titled penultimate. But through a fitting bit of coincidence it fell astray and there was to be no conclusion to it all.
“The end is nothing, the road is all”
– Willa Cather
Months before I stepped out on the journey I noted that every person I met who had lived abroad seemed a much better person for it. As if they carried something with them that gave them a bit more joy for life. I didn’t know what it was, but I was inspired to go find it. At the end of a long walkabout, I believe I understand it now. They had come to know what gave them life and filled their soul.
The beauty and addiction of living abroad sprouts from a removal of reference. Most everything you have centred yourself and life around is now gone. No social strata and system to fit yourself into, no cultural norms that you have assumed for truth your whole life. The people who had surrounded and informed your life are no longer anything but suspended memories. Without any reference points, your perspective must center on yourself. Because of this, it is inevitable that you come to know yourself better. What and who you really are separates from what isn’t. It is undeniably freeing and terrifying, the terror fades, the freedom remains. You know what gives joy to your life and what fills your soul. And this, is what reflect out to those you meet. This is what I had set out to find.
Suddenly you find yourself laughing into the wind atop a mountain pass in New Zealand, free falling out of the sky over the great barrier reef, perched on a ledge in the cathedral ranges of Australia, tracing your fingers along alleyways of street art, atop a rotating bar in Singapore, sprinting to catch a flight, hiking miles through jungle to reach a secluded beach in Thailand, celebrating fourth of July in Bangkok, at a karaoke bar in New York, wandering through London, singing in a pub, dancing on rooftops, alone on the cliffs of Wales, drinking sangria in the sunshine and staying out until 6am in Barcelona, being enthralled by the trad musicians in a tiny pub in Dublin, lost in the fog in Edinburgh, sharing a meal in Manchester, sitting on the banks of the river Mersey discussing life, at Notre Dame for Easter mass, watching the sun set from the top if the Spanish steps in Rome, bottle of wine in hand, playing soccer on the banks of the Arno in Florence, getting lost and rained on high above Cinque Terre, drinking wine under the archways of Venice, breakfast in the legendary cafes of Vienna, downing litres of weissenbier and singing songs atop tables at Frühlingsfest in Munich, on top of Jungfraujoch, surrounded by the most beautiful scenery, hiking along ancient castle walls in Salzburg, writing at a cafe in Bratislava, napping on a hill in Prague, laughing with joy through the neighbourhoods of East Berlin, exploring the counter culture in Copenhagen, and you come to know, that you are free.