The last $1000

Going through a breakup while backpacking or traveling

“If there is no joy, ease, or lightness in what you are doing, it does not necessarily mean that you need to change what you are doing. It may be sufficient to change the how. “How” is always more important than “what”. See if you can give much more attention to the doing than to the result that you want to achieve through it.”

-Eckart Tolle, The Power of Now

It’s taken me realizing that the amount of money I have left in my bank account equals exactly what I owe on my credit card to ring the alarm. I am broke. The travel fund is empty.

The first realization was that I could not keep traveling on my own the way I had been as a couple the last year and a half; the second, that I possibly couldn’t keep traveling at all. I had no plan B to begin with, no safety net. For the last four months, I have been sustaining myself by volunteering at a guesthouse in Malaysia for accommodation and eating free food at a Sikh Temple while I come up with a new plan. I also had to borrow $1000 while I turn myself back around. It is great time to rethink the how.

The last $1000

It’s unfortunate. But sometimes, it takes me hitting rock bottom to realize that I need to take measures to change a situation. And this is what is happening now. I am not desperate, don’t get me wrong. In fact, I feel a sense of calm. The thing that I dreaded happening when it hadn’t happened has happened. So now, I am rising to its challenge. I am seeing a great opportunity for change through this, and it’s exciting to have but no choice to do something about it. One thing I am asking myself a lot right now is: how much does one really need to be happy? As I am finding out, the answer is: not a lot. And so, rather than buying a flight home with the last $1000 and come home defeated, I have decided to dare myself to grow. I am broke but thirsty for adventure – and it’s a good combination.

Security is mostly a superstition. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

-Helen Keller

I have fundamentally always been a conformist. A cog in the machine. I defined myself by my job, by what I did, what I looked like, what I bought. I worked not only to define this mind-made self more clearly, but also to maintain some form of security for the future – most of it material – and to save enough to allow me to travel – also in the future. We’re all guilty on different levels of building our lives for the future, along the way forgetting that we live in the now. But does seeking security for the future bring us happiness in the present?

Everything is impermanent, even security. At one point, we are bound to lose everything: our family, our partner, our money, our job, our own life. What will there be left when everything else goes? The world is not a safe and comfortable place. It is full of challenges and hurts – and to think that we can ride it unharmed is a misconception.

My bicycle touring adventure

So I am stepping out of my comfort zone. I have done just enough work in the last couple of months to sustain myself for a little while. And part of that last $1000 was used to buy a bicycle. I have decided to let go, look at all this uncertainty right in the eyes and accept that the only certainty is that everything in uncertain. It’s sounds scary and crazy, and in some regards it kind of is, but it was one of the simplest decisions I ever made. There is no plan B, there never was. I will succeed or I will fail, and whatever the outcome, I hope to be able to see that either is great, because I will learn and I will grow. I want to live with less, challenge myself, see what I am made of, feel the wind of independence on my cheeks and live so fully that it will hurt me to leave when it’s all over. I want to show myself that nothing really matters as much as I used to believe and that I am an infinitely small part of a much greater whole. The universe has got my back. Our hours are counted and the best we can do is to stop worrying and ride this great big wave called life.

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