Sitting around the fire we both knew this was the end. The end of the trip for me, and also for Clement who wants to start working for a year in Australia. Over the last six months we have got to know each other like a married couple. Now this married couple is going to part ways as our common journeys reach their conclusion. Now it just feels like a void ahead. It is going to be a turbulent, self-exploring time.
Tonight we circled around how, deep down, everyone feels insecure and weak, and how this expresses itself so differently in different people. No matter what Clement does, he will only feel average. If he can do something, it must be easy. Quite simply, he is more technically skilled than me – at cycling, at fixing bikes, at lighting fires– you name it. He thinks that everything we do, as he can do it, it must be easy. The fact that I find it hard is impossible to fathom, and he repeats, over and over again, how easy it is, and how everyone can do it. This drives me insane.
When I was at school and university, I was one of the best academically. It was very important for me to be the top, and I worked very hard to get there. In the narrow field of solving academic puzzles that definitely had a solution, if I couldn’t find a way to use the theorems we had at hand, the problem must have been impossible to solve. If I was shown otherwise, I didn’t like it. This was something that I was good at – among the vast majority of things I was bad at in my mind, and I felt I needed external appreciation for this one thing I was good at. People had to think that I was good. Why I need this external appreciation I don’t know.
I am very happy, and also proud of this bike trip. I feel so free, seeing the world. I like to think that not everyone can do this (I need to feel good at something). Being reminded that I am worse than the ‘average’ Clement is hard to take sometimes. Feeling insecure expresses itself so differently in Clement and in myself. It is very interesting.
I left my job to go on this trip. For me that was the hardest thing to do. Would I be worthy of a job as good as this at the other end? I am now at that other end. I did not pride myself at being good at the job I did, so I was allowed in my mind to feel average about it. People confirmed over and over that I was good at the job. Why was my job not something I pride myself in like my academic success at university? Yes, this is all very contradictory. The end of this bike trip is a whirl of feelings and emotions in my mind. This will be a turbulent time ahead.
Today we cycled in the sun with Nico – the last little leg of our short stint together, and it has been a lot of fun. Nico brought new perspective on everything with lots of discussions. Yes – the cycling adventures, but today also a lot of religion and, in particular, Buddhism. Our paths diverged at Greenock where we had lunch and slept on the park lawn in the sun.
Lying in the sun
We then had a beautiful cycle through the Barossa Valley – Australia’s most famous wine area, including a fun wine tasting.
Tomorrow is the final pedal to my father’s house in the Adelaide Hills, and from there it is a short ride downhill to the last metres of the trip – Brighton Jetty where my mother’s ashes are scattered.