I am often told by people how brave they think I am. This comes because I have made the decision to live overseas. When I hear that someone thinks I’m brave, I’m baffled by it. I am not brave, not by long shot. Unless, unless of course, we define bravery as doing something that scares you simply because your more afraid of what will happen if you don’t do that scary thing. I we do define brave that way, then yeah, I’m brave, real brave.
I once read quote from Edward Dahlberg that said “when one realizes his life is worthless, he either travels or commits suicide.” Now that quote sounds a bit harsh, and I am not suicidal, but there is some truth in it. When we find ourselves lacking fulfillment, we either move on or we die (not always physically, but something in us dies).
And I think that is what motivates me to things that seem crazy. A normal life scares the hell out of me. I want a career, and a family, and I want to be happy, but I want to do so on my own terms. I don’t want a mortgage, or to be tied to job I hate, or wear a shirt and tie.
If I am brave, it is because I choose to run to scary things and away from my nightmare monsters of mediocrity, monotony, and stagnation. I think Jack London said it best: “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should stifle in dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them, I shall use my time.”
For me, any number of things can happen when I travel. I once had a near panic attack when I was stung in the lip by a fried scorpion I was eating; but that fear is nothing compared to the fear I have of loss of freedom, of conformity, of having to toe the line. I still don’t think I’m brave, just weird.