Unintended Interstitial and the Torment of Lost Time

Left: Feb 4 Right: April 18

Everything is fragile. Including me, it seems.

I heard both of the bones in my lower leg break. I didn’t know that at the time, of course. Two pops not much louder than the cracking of a joint. It would be a few days before I got x-rays, but it marked the end of my adventure. Ten days into 2 months. So much for Around the World in Many Days Part 7.

I missed out on Easter Island, Patagonia, Buenos Aires, and worst of all, spending a week in Brazil for Carnival with one of my favorite people on Earth.

I wrote about the nitty-gritty in Forbes, and those articles are linked here. This is about the rest. The 11 weeks at home. It’s been harder than I’ve let on. This is difficult to explain, but I’ll try.

Pressing Pause by Force

I have an unpleasant exercise for you: Imagine something you do that makes you happy… and now imagine not being able to do that. Now also imagine that that thing is also tied in to what you do to make a living. Breaking my leg and having to go home has far more baggage attached than just “cancelling a trip.” I was losing time.

Unintended Adventure, Part 1: Relying On The Kindness Of Strangers

I hadn’t intended on breaking my leg in two places while wandering around Chile, but that’s what happened. What happened next was not what I expected.

I won’t deny that from the outside, I live a glamorous life of adventure, travels, food, and parties. There is, admittedly, a fair amount of all that. But there are far more quiet hours in hostels where I know no one, it’s the middle of the night for all my friends, and I’m on deadline for one of my multiple jobs. The last part allows the first part, so that’s not a complaint. It can be a lonely existence, but it’s less lonely than before, so it’s unquestionably an improvement.

I’ve written before about how I do what I do because I can. But I also do what I do because I have to. Life had ground to a halt at the end of 2013. Leaving was the best decision I’d ever made. Seeing what I’ve seen, meeting the people I have… I am far more comfortable with who I am and where I am in life now than I was 2.5 years ago.

The problem is, it stopped. Hard. While walking along the beach in Chile. Crutches, casts, pain, the inability to drive anywhere or do anything for weeks. This would be brutal for anyone, and probably a lot easier on me because my job doesn’t require me to stand or walk. But it’s more than that.

Unintended Adventure, Part 2: South American Medical

I was sure I’d just sprained my ankle, but to be on the safe side, I figured I’d get it X-rayed. The twist (pun intended) is I was very far from home.

Mentally, there has been a different toll. I am cursed with a clock. A running countdown timer in my head that’s constantly pushing me to do things now because there isn’t a later. This intensity has driven away a lot of people in my life. I’ve learned to hide it.

I’ve always felt this urgency, to some extent, but it has only gotten worse in recent years. I know, on some subterranean level, that I can’t do this forever. And that scares me. This broken leg has served as a reminder — a painful, obvious reminder — that I am mortal. That’s not meant as a joke. If you don’t think that way I envy you.

So it’s probably not surprising that in the last two months I’ve had furious output: finishing, finally, my second book; taking on extra work; posting more things everywhere (except this blog, though admittedly I think that’s because it’s another reminder).

Unintended Adventure, Part 3: United Customer Service

12.5 hours in the air, three airports to navigate, all with luggage and a broken leg. I was expecting the worst. What I got was United.

Maybe when I was younger I’d have viewed this broken leg as a temporary setback. Today, however, I view it as time stolen. I’ve lost nearly three months. I’ve lost time with friends and time seeing the world. I’ve lost Easter Island, Argentina, Patagonia, Uruguay.

Will I see these places in the future? I don’t know. I hope so. I hope I can keep going. I hope to see everything.

Pressing Play with Enthusiasm 

There is, finally, a return of hope. Yesterday I found out my leg is almost completely healed, and I won’t need any more follow up visits. Not only is this fantastic news from a physical standpoint, it’s also freeing from a mental standpoint. No longer do I have my broken leg hanging over my head… uh, so to speak.

And today, I leave for my next adventure. One I’ve wanted to do my entire life. I arrive tomorrow in Tokyo for over a month in Japan. Now that I know I don’t have any doctor follow-ups, I might even stay longer.

And after that I’ve got a few weeks with my home friends, then it’s off to London to meet up with my friend I missed spending Carnival with. And then… Europe and who knows. I’m just going to have to make up for what I’ve missed. 

But the occasional stab of pain in my leg is a constant reminder I can’t do this forever. Time is a relentless assassin.

However… if you know the assassin is there, you can keep an eye on him and go do some pretty awesome stuff.

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The Bald Nomad

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