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As the end of the year approaches, with it comes a strange nostalgia about the time that has passed, and what I have done of consequence during the time I have had. It is also a time of looking ahead, of startng to get excited for hitting the road with a backpack and heading off to Mozambique to see some sandy beaches and live life away from cities and responsibilities for a bit. To go back to being an excited adventurer in a foreign place, learning as I go.

we can start to see the repetition and reflect on whether an ocean of workdays, punctuated with occasional weekends away sums up who we are

I can see though, in conversations with friends, that I am not the only one who is starting to feel that change in the personal winds that this time of year brings about. More than one conversation has tiptoed around a sense of restlessness, of confusion and lack of purpose that reflecting on the last year of life almost always brings about. While our day to day lives may seem chaotic from the mornings we wake up to the nights we go to sleep, it is only when we add them up over a year – or longer – that we can start to see the repetition and reflect on whether an ocean of workdays, punctuated with occasional weekends away sums up who we are.

It doesn’t. It never does. Year after year, we try in this period to try and reconcile the rich internal worlds where we dream big with our shallow everyday personae. End of year backpacking has come, for me, to be a chance to align the part of me that desperately wants to see new things and explore new places with the version of myself that I act out in the world every day. It doesn’t last forever, but for the period I am away, it is delicious, and I feel as though I always return a little bit wiser and more open to the world than I was before I left.

And each time, it becomes a little more serious, a little less of a holiday. It’s nothing more than progressing along the inevitable trajectory of realising that there is no grand law that forbids living differently, that forbids perpetual travel and exploration. And that vision, of life as you want to be – not life as you need to be – are the most dangerous ones of all.