Right now I am sitting in our garden house in Lunteren, a village in the heart of the Netherlands. The only sounds I hear are car engines humming by the front door, the chickens clucking, kittens purring and Passenger playing from my phone. Right now I am settling down in The Netherlands. Not so much as if to say I’ve completely moved myself half way around the world and I’ll be staying here for years, but enough to allow myself to realise that this country will host me until the end of this year at least. Right now, I am blessed.
Three weeks ago I was in Iceland. Four weeks ago I was in Canada. Five weeks ago I was in America. And ten weeks ago I was in Indonesia. It’s crazy to think that the last time I set foot on Australian soil was all the way back in January, twenty-five weeks ago. Five months!
Five months ago, I left Adelaide with no intents to return for at least a year. A year where I could be free, chasing summer around the world and seeing as many places as my money permitted. Since then, I’ve travelled through five countries and seen twenty cities, both solo and alongside my best friend. I’ve experienced so much ‘realness’ this world has offered me. I’ve seen so much, been so much, learned so much. Lived so much. In Adelaide I was just a boy with a dream, but that boy didn’t know that his dream would teach him so much.
Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I have learned while travelling is that there is something so great, so beautiful and so freeing just outside my comfort zone. And to get there it takes a shit-load of courage, strength and perseverance. Stepping into a place that violated all my pre-determined rules of comfort and security was truly one of the hardest things I’ve forced myself to do, yet waiting for me on the other side of the fence was something that I could have never anticipated or expected. There’s a new Ben. One who doesn’t overthink, one who is more willing to give-up my comfort zone and one who is more confident. Before Bali, Ben felt sick booking a bed in a hostel dorm. After Bali, Ben doesn’t think twice about accepting an invite to a night out by a dorm buddy. Bali was the place where I first stepped out of my comfort zone, but since then, many other places have seen me grow, develop and learn through different experiences. Most of which did require me to leave my comfort-zone, but also experiences that have taught other things about myself and the people around me. Travelling with Jessie has taught me so much about her that two years of the same classes in high-school could never have. And she has also shown me things about myself that I wouldn’t have known if we didn’t spend consecutive days being in each others presence, twenty-four hours straight for three months. In this way, I am blessed.
I’ve only been to five countries in the space of 5 months, yet what I have gained from each and every country are lessons that years of life wouldn’t have taught me if I stayed in Australia. No day goes by where I don’t imagine myself where I could have been if I didn’t decide to travel. In a seat behind a pull down desk in a theatre at the University of South Australia, scribbling on my notepad or distracted on my phone pretending to listen to a lecturer murmur on about town planning. But when I look at where I am right now, in the Netherlands, half way around the world, in a different hemisphere and entirely different continent, I realise how blessed I am, how lucky I am, and how much I would never trade this in for anything else in the world. Not a million dollars. The up’s, the downs, the highs, the lows, the joys and arguments, satisfactions and disappointments. I am blessed.