360 days is a lot of days.
That’s how long I have been away from this blog (not counting a blog post that announced where I intended to stay, in September 2019).
The other day, I finally got a haircut. My hair had grown too long and shapeless, but over these months, it hadn’t been a priority.
I visited a dozen different countries since March 2019, stayed for 7 months in one.
But the home I’ve settled in for the past 360 days has been a country you can’t visit. It’s a place only I can travel to and stay indefinitely.
For the last 360 days, I’ve been mostly ignoring the outside world.
If you’ve been reading the In Between Islands series on LightChaser Life, you will know that in the early part of 2019, I was island-hopping in the Philippines. I visited Panay Island during the Dinagyang street festival, sought silence in Guimaras, didn’t do anything remarkable in Cebu, had a reasonably good time in Bantayan Island, spent some time in indifferent Negros Island, and truly enjoyed the magical island of Siquijor. I also spent some days in Makati, although those days were spent reading and sometimes indulging in nostalgic forays to coffee shops and the Legazpi Sunday Market thinking about the French Pyrenees.
If you’ve read my manifesto on travel as a form of freedom, you know that early in 2019, I read Dan Goleman’s book Altered Traits, a summary of his and others’ research on the value of meditation practice for healthier ways of being. Goleman’s book sparked a long inquiry into how working with the mind creates the patterns that bring wellbeing. I’ve read a lot of studies and books about working on the mind. Most importantly, I didn’t stop at learning how to declutter my head theoretically. I spent the last 360 days replacing unhelpful and limiting thinking habits, and training myself to adopt and use better habits for wellbeing.
You could say that the past 360 days have been occupied with An Inside Job.
For the last 360 days, I’ve been on this internal journey. I took some side-trips to actual physical locations, but the travel I’ve been on has been inside.
The next six weeks will be spent decompressing from the long hiatus, as if emerging from a deep dive.
I have to learn to breathe above water, again.
Get used to reality as others and the environment insist it is, instead of the reality that I carved for myself these last 360 days. (For example, get a haircut.)
A friend of mine once wrote about a concept called ‘time out of time.’ In his story, he defined ‘time out of time’ as the slice of time that is taken out of the timeline you thought you would follow. For example, if you were in Rayong and went to see a waterfall but got lost, and found a surprisingly insightful experience with locals. That interruption in an otherwise planned timeline is ‘time out of time,’ when you suddenly find yourself with the freedom to engage in something that was entirely unplanned but gave you valuable learning.
For the last 360 days, I’ve had ‘time out of time.’
As I emerge from this slice of time, I find that the stories that unfolded for me throughout these times hold some resonance, and I don’t want to forget the paths I took to here, where I am, now. I’m going to write these stories down.
I want to write the stories down because it will be like a re-emergence, like breaking out of the cocoon and finally showing color unfolding in new wings.
You could say this is the beginning of another journey.