Reintegration: The First Month

Autumn leavesYesterday. I swear it was yesterday that we set off from London, leaving our empty and echoing flat behind us as we wobbled out into the street on two heavily-laden touring bikes.

The whole world was ahead of us. Time was infinite. Or so we thought.

Fast forward 3 years and now we are back in an apartment, in Den Haag this time, and learning to readjust to ‘normal’ life. In the past month since we picked a spot and ‘settled down’, we’ve had time aplenty to reflect on our return to society and a few themes keep returning.

  • The Less We Have, The Happier We Are
    We jumped off our bikes and immediately started accumulating stuff. There was the stuff we left behind in boxes. The stuff we decided we needed, like new clothes and a few extra things for the kitchen, and the stuff that other people gave us, thinking we needed it. And yet the more stuff we have, the less we know what to do with it. We try and organize it in cupboards and closets. Some of the stuff ends up piled high on our desk and mostly it all gets ignored. Every day it seems we are confronted with new incentives to buy, buy, buy but we find the idea of yet more stuff a distraction rather than a benefit.
  • A Passion for Life is Everything
    If bike touring taught us one thing, it taught us passion. When we were on our bikes, we felt truly alive. Maybe it was the positive endorphins generated from so much fresh air and exercise or the exhilaration of constantly seeing new places. Whatever the cause, we can truly say we never felt so good – physically and mentally – as when we were on our bikes. Now the question becomes, how can we maintain that passion in our new, more static lives? We are still searching for the perfect answer but so far we have made these resolutions: We will try new things (we’re starting with Dutch and Yoga lessons) and we will take some time to reflect every day on what we really want from life.  And of course we haven’t completely give up bike touring. We still get out for a day or a weekend where we can. It’s good for the soul.
  • We Want to Make A Difference
    It’s impossible to return from any extended trip and not see the world as a smaller place. The evening news is no longer filled with unfamiliar people in unfamiliar lands but stories of the people we met and who were so kind to us on our trip, regardless of their own, often limited, resources. Money and status were never very important to us but they seem less so now. Instead, we reflect increasingly on the inequities in this world, the privileges we are so lucky to possess and the possibilities for us to make a difference.

What reflections will the second month bring? Stay tuned to find out!


  1. Nora - The Professional Hobo
    23rd November 2009 at 11:26 am #

    I totally understand the feeling of being overwhelmed by – yet helpless in the inevitable accumulation of – STUFF!
    As soon as my boyfriend and I moved into an unfurnished place and set some roots for longer than a few months, the process of accumulation began. We still don’t own very much stuff by most people’s standards, mind you. But every time we stop, even for a short while, it is difficult to fend off the desire to accumulate – to “nest” perhaps, if you will.
    Looking forward, we’d like to travel onwards with carry-on luggage only (and we’re full-time travelers with no fixed address, so that is no small order).

  2. friedel
    24th November 2009 at 6:47 am #

    It’s amazing how quickly the ‘stuff’ does accumulate. Sometimes I think it multiplies at night on its own when I’m in bed! I’d love to know what you’re going to put in your carry on and what you’re leaving behind.

  3. Scott Drennan
    24th November 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    It seems that everyone I know who returns from a life-changing experience like yours comes back with similar reflections and goals. I know we did! I’m wondering how many of us are able to maintain those goals in the face of the pressures of modern life. It will be interesting to see.

    I wrote a few similar reflections on the tyranny of stuff, and my desire to make a difference a few weeks ago. I look forward comparing notes again after your next installment.

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