“I made it to Varna.”
This thought still crosses my mind, even though I have been in this city for two weeks already. Even now, if I take the time to reflect on this thought, it’s a challenge to comprehend it. I have spent a lot of time wandering aimlessly. During this wandering, when the thought came to me, it was typically followed up with, “How did I get here?”
It’s been a dream of mine to travel around Eastern Europe* for at least 6 years, and the idea to visit Varna specifically has been on my mind for about 3 years. The idea of Varna was brought to my attention when one day in Paris I met up with someone who happened to be a distant cousin. But that’s another story for another day.
Now, here I am. How did I get here? Looking back, I find the answer quite funny. It was just a catalyst followed by a series of small steps. At least, that’s how I see it now.
For those six years, the question was always, “When am I going to get to Eastern Europe?” And I gave myself the typical answers:
“When I pay off my debt.”
“When I get rid of my stuff.”
“When I save up $10K.”
Eventually, because it took so long, I changed the answer to “When I get back from South America.”
That’s right, I even planned another adventure before starting this one. That’s not surprising though. In the 6 years I’ve wanted to visit Eastern Europe, I made the time to take a trip to Western Europe and another trip to India and Nepal. I don’t regret taking those trips — I’m just reflecting on the path I took to finally get here.
So now that I’m here, what did it actually take to get here? Yes, I had to meet those three obligations to myself before I could leave home with a clear conscience. And that took years to achieve. Once the end was in sight though, it was only a matter of weeks before I was ready to come here.
I didn’t realize this at the time, but the catalyst really was buying the plane ticket. This was essential for me to take the final series of small steps. After I purchased the ticket — that’s when I started to ask “What do I have to do today, so that I can go to Varna?” Now I wonder why I didn’t ask myself this question sooner. I believe I would have arrived here much faster!
Going forward, the series of steps that had to happen were still in the haze of the unknown. And the unknown was what I was used to. The unknown is an easy place to put my life on hold. Looking back, I can see the series of small steps were actually minor. I didn’t know this at the time though.
They just happened. They had to.
I think the humor in the answer to “How did I get here?” comes from the realization that I really just needed a catalyst. Once the catalyst was introduced, everything else fell into place. It had to.
As I dream about any future endeavors, I suppose I should ask myself, “What’s my catalyst?”
Once I have an answer, I’ll introduce it into my life as soon as possible and let the series of small steps follow.
*I say “Eastern Europe” because that’s the term I was taught back home. On my first day in Bulgaria, I was informed that Bulgaria is part of “Southern Europe.” One look at the map, and I understand their point of view, and grateful for the new perspective. This is one of the reasons I love to travel.
This was written by Mitchell Roth on Friday, May 3, 2013 , in Varna, Bulgaria.