Escape plan on “hold”…
I have been waiting forever to finalize my “escape plan”…
But there seemed to be always something coming in between, calling for a “short” postponement of my target date to a better time.
Back then, those reasons appeared all quite sensible: what’s the harm of waiting just a little bit longer to be better off?
But while I was busy counting the days till my dream could come to life – following my revised, “most reasonable” timeline of the moment – the end date kept on shifting towards a later future.
There was only one constant:
Things never appeared to be quite ready.
And my dream evaded me again and again, like a vision evaporating into thin air…
Of course, nobody could have foreseen back then, what is happening now…
When the first Covid-19 disquieting reports started to creep from China, that only seemed to affect some far-away, remote corners of the globe. Now no day goes by without it to make headlines. And that even though paradoxically there is hardly anything new to report!
The whole planet is put on “hold” by an invisible virus.
Any guess about how this might last and how we will get out of it is as good as the next.
Fact is: Nobody really has a clue about much yet.
Something unprecedented happened in our modern “peaceful” times: borders have closed, with lockdowns and most flights grounded, travels are restricted, events canceled, hotels, leisure and sport venues completely shut down…
People can even get “legally” harassed these days (if not by the police by the ever-present sour “know-it-all”) for chilling out in a park while nibbling at a sandwich.
– Yes, exercising might be “graciously” allowed – thank you very much!
– But be wary: resting afterward and (God forbids!) having a bite in plain sight is tabu…
Really. Where have we landed?
Things we took as completely for granted, like booking a holiday or hop on a trip with friends, are totally “off radar” now. Gyms look like expositions of some weird artifacts of modern art: to be appreciated only from afar!
And my most pressing question is:
When will the world open again, so that I can at last leave for my adventure?
Are we stuck now?
Months of procrastination, that only too quickly turned into years (yep!) and what – to be gracious towards myself – I shall call “optimal planning” only taught me one thing:
We are never 100% ready. Action is more a matter of willpower than preparation.
If we have the will, we will find a way.
If not, we will just find an excuse.
Time for a shameful confession:
– All my “perfectly rational” reasons to postpone my plans, at a hindsight, were no more than petty alibis not to leave my “comfort zone”,
– all the while keeping my “cool plan” still in sight, but at a “safe distance”- Not too far, but never too close.
Like having a poster of a beautiful spot hanging in your room. You keep on dreaming you will go there one day, but then again you are still looking at the same picture again and again, from the cushy comfort of your home. And for all the wishing and daydreaming, you are still hanging in there, never quite a step closer to your “secret place”.
Except only in your imagination.
That is what happened with my “escape plan”: it got stalled by endless planning and “optimization”. My biggest sin was to trust “reason” too much.
I was trying to “optimize” everything to the tiniest detail: What kind of travel insurance is the best? What could I do with my gym membership? How about my apartment?
One answer just led to the next question, only amplifying the level of tiresome details. The truth was: none of it really mattered. At most, that was embellishment, not substance.
And while that went on and on, I was losing sight of the “bigger picture”.
So I never left for my sabbatical dream. Yet…
Let’s cut the crap…
Now I am here, stuck at home, like half of the planet right now. Well, I should not be too dramatic: I can still go out whenever I want to exercise – Thanks to the outdoor-friendly and somehow more pragmatic German government, along with most mature societies for that, without which most will just go insane at home.
Because let’s be honest:
– If you are smart and disciplined enough to respect the required physical distancing when you are out – and you are not giving in to the general paranoia,
– then being insulated at home, if that is even possible (which is not, as long as you still go shopping or get food and random staff delivered by strangers), does not really help much.
Self-inflicted home confinement just gets you more depressed. And paranoid. And bitchy with whoever you see doing what you secretly wish you had the guts to be doing too: going out!
– keeping the required physical distance (and washing your hands!) prevents further contagion way more effectively
– than any self-inflicted, and mostly inconsistent, draconian lockdown at home.
And the gain/pain ratio also looks more promising too.
Yet even that cherished piece of freedom, and the occasional “oxygen high” I get to enjoy when I now go for a run, only bring me as far as my local neighborhood goes. Anything beyond the borders is off-limits.
And a trip around the world is out of the question for the moment.
All because I was too “slow” in taking action before this whole debacle started. I got “stuck” in counting the days to realize my dream, all the while missing the chance to seize the present moment. Right then and there, as the realization of my dream was readily available to me. And that would have been till not too long ago…
Fast-forwarding to my badass friend…
My friend N. took a wholly different approach. And he was as swift as a honey-badger when he decided that… You know what? F*ck with this whole panic… Sure, I can catch the virus and die. But I can also die in a car accident. Or more slowly, by eating all the wrong food for years and ending with a heart attack. I am young, quite fit… and frankly I will end up bored to tears here. I’ll rather take my chances and…
So you know what my badass friend did?
You will laugh at his badassery!
On the very same day where its country announced to close its borders and ground its flights, N. quickly backed his stuff, grabbed his surfboard, and took a plane to one of my favorite places in the world: Beautiful Bali!
He told me that the airport had an eerie feeling that day.
Most “sensible” people were queuing at transfer desks to go back home, with deep worry-lines on their faces and no smile to spare.
He was the only “crazy” one leaving in the other direction, with a badass grin and his loyal surf-board companion on his side, looking forward to his chosen adventure.
When he arrived in Bali, he was not disappointed. The conditions were perfect. And the crowds gradually disappeared. One after the other, stranded tourists were contacted by their embassies to be rushed back home, to “safety” – Pun intended!
The paradox of choices.
Expectedly, my friend too got a “worried” call from his embassy, urging him to enlist for the next available flight back.
Sensibly, he “duly” considered the offer, of course. But then again, that was not one he could be expected to accept.
See, there was a “catch” there: The airline would take him, but (outrageously!) not his board.
So, naturally my friend had to politely decline.
How “irresponsible” would it be for anybody to swap the “safety” of a draconian lockdown back at home for the “freedom” to surf on empty waves?
So he stayed back, getting to see a dreamy image of Bali from only back in the past, just in the company of laid-off friendly locals and a handful of equally “crazy” tourists – Most fellow surfers and yogis. Plus, many Italians, he reported to me – boosting my national pride from afar all over again.
Kudos to those guys!
Now N. is still there, sound and better than he could conceivably have been back at home, where the number of infections is still raging and people lockdown at home have taken “alien” habits – many secretly planning to either kill their housemates or go on a spree to the upstairs neighbour binging on loud music, so that they can finally scramble some peace of mind back, where not too late already.
And I am still here, somehow in my “limbo” land, cushioned in between those in full lockdown-despair already, like my family back under semi-confinement in Italy, and the few who took to their “escape” route just in time, like my badass friend N.
One thing is certain: I am now armed with an unshakable resolve. And I will never hesitate again. The sabbatical will be my next stop. No more holding my breath for the perfect time.
Because now I know:
You do not wait for the right moment. You take the moment – And make it right. The choice is only ours.
We just have to be smart enough to see it. And always badass enough to take it.
What a surfer fellow once told me, when going all in for a “crazy” wave, was:
If you never try, you never know!