Two days ago I finished writing a story. It began as a tale about two kiwis and a Canadian who decide to use gangsters and mobsters to market their new vodka, hoping to gain street cred and instead attracting a range of terrifying challenges. But I was somewhere between New Mexico and Utah two years ago, watching electrical storms on four horizons when I realised that Vodka just wasn’t enough. As I viewed spectacular lightning splitting dusky widescreen horizons, I knew my characters needed grander problems than smuggling spirits into Liberia and the Ukraine would earn them. I needed to take on something that would echo across the world, something which would require commentary from the Pope. So these human lightning conductors decided to invent a better religion, and the vodka became part of the back-story. But that’s another story for a different day, publishers willing.
Soon after I began work on the book, I started writing this blog. As I set off on a research trip to the USA and Europe my life seemed to have become interesting enough for me to find something to write about every couple of weeks. I find that when I’m travelling I live at a much faster pace. Each day lived seems so visceral, so textured, so rich. Every meal is newly spiced, every conversation has an accent, every dawn is described by new sounds. Each morning makes a promise, that the day will harbour some lesson, some learning, some new understanding. I want to share the revelations, the encounters, the mistakes and consequences. And then I return home, and that pace drops away.
I haven’t posted anything here for eighteen months, not because I haven’t been inspired, but because the achievements were gradual ones, and their rewards were ones of delayed gratification. And because working in a job for an income rather than outcome stifles my imaginative creativity. It’s been a period of building for me, a passage of time during which I’ve managed to set myself up with foundations for a simpler life, one which enables freedom and creativity. And it has helped me further understand the joy of simple living, with kind and thoughtful people. But my passport hasn’t been soaked with the sweat of border anticipation for far too long, and my pack lies forgotten beneath my bed, comforted only by memories of a brief and beautiful jaunt through a Buddhist kingdom. And I want to write a new book, so I need character inspiration, semi-autobiographic comic relief and the rewards that come with making simple mistakes in unknown lands with friends I haven’t met yet.
I’m six weeks out from a flight to Paris, I’m buying walking shoes and train tickets, and my heart beats louder in my dreams. The world is opening up again, my skies are wider than an office window, the winter storms are all around me, unframed, unbound. The pace is picking up, the sound of a jet overhead has regained a personal significance, and as I watch others post photos and thoughts from Castle Donnington, Positano, the Orkney Islands, envy has given way to a feeling of fellowship. I’ve written 150,000 words about another man’s journey, it is time to slip back to first person perspective again. And it’s time to share my ideas once again, and hope to strike a chord, provoke a response, or even provide inspiration for someone else’s adventures.
The great thing about horizons is that just like tomorrow, they lie just out of reach. But unless we’re clinically depressed, our progress towards tomorrow requires no effort, no act of change, no brave decision. But to approach the horizon, that demands a building of momentum, a setting of sails, the anxious lottery of purchasing Easyjet tickets. And most of all it require the triumph of adventurous spirit over apathetic submission.