This trip isn't just about seeing new places, eating food, taking photos and learning how to cook. It's about discovering little things about myself. It's about realising what makes me who I am; the little foibles and idiosyncrasies that I possess.
Not without good reason, I could be criticised for taking myself too seriously; for being too concerned about what people think of me. There are things I am not comfortable feeling or discussing, and when my own little fiefdom becomes threatened, my guard goes up. We are probably all guilty of this to some extent, but I can't help feeling that it holds me back.
A lot of this comes down to freedom. Right now, freedom is something I would appear to be enjoying. I am travelling, on a very generous budget, alone, so my own whims may dictate my course. If things become awkward, or situations threaten my freedom, I can always toss a few dollars in the right direction to steady the ship. I suddenly decide I want to do something, like take a sailing course or learn to cook Mexican food in la casita de tu abuela; no hay problema. It shall be done. But this is not freedom.
Freedom comes from within. It is a state of mind, not a state of being. Freedom is what you get when you remove all the constraints that you place upon yourself. All the restrictions, concerns and worries that you allow to weigh you down and inhibit your own movement. The pillars that we all erect to preserve and protect our own fragility - if we can cast them off, revel in their tumbling, then we are free.
Down near the UBC campus, there are a few stretches of beach, the most famous of which is Wreck Beach. It's proper old skool, Dazed and Confused stuff. I spent a few hours down there today. Lying in the sun, you hear the ladies with their cool boxes walking past. Margaritas, mojitos, ice cold beers. Mushrooms, purple haze. Bombay and tonic. To get down here you must first traverse the best part of five hundred steps down through the forest. At the top of the steps is a sign. It says Clothing Optional.
I've always been one to keep my clothes on. I feel unbelievably self conscious if de-robed outside of the obvious situations. So here presents a golden opportunity. An optional nudist beach, where my anonymity is assured. Where I can remove my clothes, lie in the sun and bask in the naked glory of my soul. If that's not a step towards true freedom, towards stripping away the things that hold me back and running through the streets with wild abandon, an ice cold beer in hand, then I don't know what is.
You should try it some time, it's good for the soul.