There is a monkey on my sweater with a stern look on his face. I can see him looking at me through my bedroom mirror. I bought the sweater from a thrift shop because I thought a front pocket was a fun spot to place a stern looking monkey. Surrounded by shitty half finished paintings, I’m questioning my purchase while I’m drinking horrible tasting wine and smoking far too much weed. Is the monkey judging me? Where am I? What am I doing? I’m momentarily obsessed with questions like these, yet I love when I feel the need to ask them.
I’ve been traveling the world alone and I’m currently in Australia, working in cafes and living in a shed for a few months while I work on my paintings. Considering my situation, I’ve had a couple of people ask me if I’ve found myself yet. I suppose it’s a cliche’ for people to travel while in search of themselves, so I can’t blame them for asking. But I can’t help but wonder, where is the finding when the found is always with you? What excites me is the thought that we’re always finding ourselves.
Whether stationary or not, travel is a metaphor for life. Confronting the world forces you to confront the different aspects of yourself in relation to the different aspects of the world. Because the world is full of changes, so are we. Since I was a teenager my goal in life has been to create myself through experience. What new things can I explore? What new sensations may I feel? I have inadvertently “found myself” while traveling, but that’s only because I’ll find myself everywhere I am.
This doesn’t mean I don’t get scared. In all actually, I’m often fairly terrified. What am I doing with my life? Why have I anthropomorphized a pocket monkey? Where will this all take me? I’ve recently bought an expensive professional camera with the goal in mind of creating a traveling podcast. I know nothing about cameras, filming, or editing. The other day I was playing around by recording random things, when the reality of what I’m trying to do freaked me out. Talking alone into the camera is actually pretty damn hard, it can make you feel vulnerable and a bit crazy. Especially when you find yourself doing it with little friend support in some crummy and cold shed in the backyard of a crummier house in Melbourne. Are my goals a joke? Even if I pull this off, who will watch it?
I travel in order to explore and open myself up to possibilities, but I also originally took off in hopes of finding an opportunity that I can commit to. I often feel constantly torn in the directions I want to take in life. Some days I just want someone to simply tell me what to do. Yet if there is anything else I hate more in this world, it’s someone telling me what to do. I’m a walking contradiction in that way. I think my desire for instruction is derived from a fear of responsibility. If someone else is dictating my life, I can blame them for my disappointments; but I can’t live that way because I know it’s a lie. I’m responsible for my own life, I have no one else to blame if I fail.
This realization of responsibility has been an enormous thing to take in. I’ve always thought of responsibility as this thing associated with a career, children, or doing the dishes; but it’s more than even that. We are responsible for our entire lives. Not just our current, living, and breathing in this moment lives, we’re responsible for everything leading up to our inevitable deaths. What’s worse, failing or never doing? The answer is never doing. Because if we fail when we reach the end of our lives, we’re failing anyway; but we’re failing without having even tried.
I ended up in Melbourne after a series of bizarre and fantastic events and my mind is still reeling with the freedom I currently possess. The pocket monkey might be looking at me disappointingly, but I love my situation. I’m living a dream of mine since childhood and I’m free to explore the world and myself as I please. This is a good thing. The more things I explore, the more things I try, the more I learn about myself; my true self, not the self filled with “shoulds” and “can’ts.” And whatever I end up doing or abandoning, at least I’ve learned something. At least I’ve DONE something, instead of sitting on my ass complaining about life and wasting it. Judge that pocket monkey.