Aiming for the banana peels
A new perspective for those heading towards the RY finish line
Having to wait for things isn’t fun. It’s so easy to become frustrated, anxious, or even angry as you try to speed time up to get to where you want to be or simply get what you want.
This can be especially true when you are traveling.
While traveling is inherently full of unknowns — will you make it in time for your flight? will your baggage make your connection? will that connection in Phuket have a lounge (it f’ing better)? — it also can guarantee you one thing with absolute certainty:
You are going to have to wait.
You will wait in the check-in line, you will wait at security, you will wait to board, you will wait for the person sitting in the aisle seat to wake up so you can get out and use the bathroom, you will wait in the passport control line, you will wait to see if your bags made it, you will wait for a taxi to take you to your new home. And those are just at the airport!
You may not experience all of these waits during the same trip (dear, God, please no), but odds are that you will experience at least one of them, and odds are that you will not be pleased about it.
Even on Remote Year, when you are, at a bare minimum, taking one flight per month (often more with #sidetripz), the waits don’t get easier.
Traveling for a year doesn’t just automatically turn you into that super chillaxed traveler who just “lets things happen” and “goes with the flow” and “always thinks of a third thing when listing stuff,” no matter how much you’d like to think it will.
I know this because one week into Month 10 and I am still having to check myself and my attitude about as often as I check my bags when things don’t go as smoothly as I’d like them to on a travel day.
This past month, about a half of Kaizen deviated from Lima and went to Cartagena for New Year’s Eve. At least a dozen of us were on the same itinerary that had a two hour layover in Bogotá.
Two hours? Excellent. We’ll breeze through passport control, get a little tipsy at the Priority Pass lounge of our choosing, and hop on the 45 minute flight to a bougie weekend of poolside drinks and breakfast buffets.
Much to our dismay, the line at passport control had other plans in mind.
Instead of salud-ing with ice cold Club Colombias in the lounge, we stood. And waited. And shifted bags from one sore shoulder to the other. And looked around at each other, trying not to seem too nervous about our boarding time that was quickly approaching.
It was somewhere between a heated conversation one of us had with an airport attendant and the 5,678th time that I checked my watch that I made a realization.
During our nine months on the road, these are the only types of situations — the uncomfortable ones, the ones with the long waits — where time actually goes by slowly.
Time doesn’t go by slowly when you’re bungee jumping off of a bridge in Bulgaria.
Time doesn’t go by slowly when you’re spending a weekend(s) in Tokyo.
Ya don’t say?
Time doesn’t go by slowly when you’re driving in a car throughout the entire country of Morocco.
No wait, actually it does. Bad example.
Anyways, you get the point.
I’m not surprised it took me until Month 10 to have this lil epiphany (← stealing that as my rapper name NO ONE TAKE IT!!), after all, lots of conversations these days talk about *gasp* “the end” and what people are doing post-RY.
It’s right about now that all anyone wants to do is somehow slow down time, not speed it up.
If you remove the line and the passport control and the airport out of the scenario, all we were really doing was hanging out — like actually hanging out, not checking Instagram while half-ass conversing at a dinner table — with a dozen of our close friends.
I don’t want that to go by fast! I want to savor it and bottle it up and reproduce it for sale (I know of at least 50 eager buyers already). I need to be embracing these waits, thankful that they’re acting as the banana peels in this year-long Mario Kart race.
I’ve had a couple of chances since that layover to share this “embrace the wait” philosophy with friends during times that would be easy to get wound up over, and I honestly think it has helped. People’s reactions have typically been the ones where they look around quizzically for a second or two and eventually nod in agreement, a little taken aback by the truth of it all.
I hope to have more converts soon.
Now that the end is near-ish, I wish I had this perspective a little earlier, even all the way back to my Premote days — that never-ending six month period between deposit and Day 1 in Split.
I was so eager for this adventure to start, that I didn’t stop to appreciate the fact that I had a full year of amazingness ahead of me. I just wanted it to get here already.
I kind of wish I had taken more time to appreciate that period and enjoy the only time during this entire crazy experience that each passing day didn’t slowly take chip away at the number of days left in our year.
I get it though.
No matter what anybody told me back then or what anyone told me before right about now, I probably wouldn’t have heeded the advice. Not that I didn’t think that it was right or true, but because it’s damn near impossible sometimes!
It isn’t until your once-seemingly endless adventure starts to near the dreaded finish line that you start wanting to slam on the brakes after going pedal to the metal for so long, only to find that this kart never actually came with brakes to begin with. It’s only then, when you come to that anxiety-inducing realization, that you start aiming for those banana peels intentionally instead of trying to avoid them like you have been doing this whole time.
Here’s my challenge to you:
Next time you catch yourself getting heated or annoyed by something that is making the time crawl by because of how inconvenient, boring, or uncomfortable it is, take a moment and embrace it. Appreciate it. Thank it. It might not seem like it at the time, but it’s actually doing you a favor.
As long as it doesn’t make you miss your connection to Cartagena, anyways. 🍌