Back in March, while finishing up my fourth year of living and working in Colombia, I was struck by a post-quarter-life crisis of modest proportions, elucidated not quite succinctly in this long but engrossing post, “Fly Brother and the Curse of the Aimless Intellectual.” Basically, I had no idea of which of many paths to take: writing full-time and working part-time, working full-time and writing part-time, traveling indefinitely, loafing creatively, etc., etc. Eventually, I settled on traveling around the world for three months, then moving to São Paulo to concentrate on a novel whose storyline is set there. I chose to follow my immediate desires and attempted to let the universe steer me towards unlimited creative energy and subsequent financial success through the associated creative endeavors. There was nothing to it but to do it. But several things have happened in the course of my trip that have thrown my original plan off course.
First, I fell in love with Berlin. I felt like I was cheating on my baby, Sampa, but I also felt like Berlin could give me some of the things SP couldn’t: ease of travel, logistically and economically, to other regions including Brazil; a larger artistic platform from which various creative projects could be developed more thoroughly; and better earning potential.
Second, I ran out of money. It’s impossible to plan and calculate every expense in anticipation of a trip, especially one circumnavigating the globe. I completely miscalculated ($8 hot dogs in Sweden did not bode well for the budget) and ended up at the mercy of friends and family, essentially borrowing, begging, and (well, almost) stealing in order to complete my journey. I wasn’t stationary in one place long enough to earn any real money and need for immediate income generation caused me to re-evaluate my timetable for resuming traditional employment.
Third, my mother was involved in a serious car accident: three cracked ribs and a totalled vehicle. She’s doing well now, surrounded by her friends and the rest of my family, but I decided to cancel my Australia ticket and go home to Florida for the first two weeks of November. Ahm comin’ home, Ma! At her urging, I’ve not cancelled my Brazil ticket yet.
But Brazil still not a foregone conclusion anymore because I’m actually being drawn more towards travel writing than book-length fiction. It could be the combination of being on an epic journey and the relative ease of penning articles from the road versus novel chapters in interminable need of rewriting, and as I ruminated in previously, it’s much easier to base myself in Berlin or, say, Hong Kong and travel cheaply than be in Sampa and expect to pop out of town for the weekend.
Subsequently, I’ve found two paths toward offering something of a balance between the finances and the time: returning to high school teaching or joining the Foreign Service. I do think teaching in Barranquilla was on the extreme end of dues-paying when it came to student discipline and social life in the city, so I’m thinking that other schools in other places (like Brazil, Germany, or HK) would be a touch less stressful. Meanwhile, the benefits package for foreign service officers is unequalled, and My President is in the process of expanding the diplomatic corps. How fly is that?
I’m starting preliminary paperwork for both career paths. The uncertainty is anxiety-inducing, but I guess I should just enjoy the ride and see where the cosmos takes me.
We now return you to Fly Brother’s Round-the-World Adventures, already in progress.