What’s after Europe?

Aug 29, 2014 by

          Telling friends that I’m going on my big trip to Europe has evoked many shrieks and hugs and I’m-so-happy-for-yous. I didn’t realize how many people know that this is my dream and have been rooting for me to go. In addition to the cheerleaders though, are the what-are-you-going-to-do-when-you-get-back people. Note to anyone who knows anyone about to live a dream: Don’t ask what that person’s after plan is. It’s a buzz kill. But to answer the question, I don’t give a fuck. That’s Future Maria’s adventure. I am on European cloud nine, as I should be. I just quit my job to live my dream. I don’t care what comes after Europe. My biggest concern is choosing a flight itinerary in and out of the EU that maximizes my time in the Schengen zone, a.k.a. the coolest concern ever!

          I don’t live in the future. People that do make me sad. I used to be one of them. North Americans are wired to panic about what’s next. Already made depressed and terrified by society’s work-hard-now-for-a-maybe-secure-future-later mentality, at 12 years old, I asked the bank to open an RRSP in my name. When I was refused, I settled for an RESP, already sold on the idea that university was the only way to a promising career, which I equated with a promising future. From elementary school to the day I quit event marketing, I nearly killed myself for that stupid future. By my early twenties, I had already spent at least a decade waiting for my life to hurry the fuck up to retirement. By the onset of The Happiness Experiment, I knew working most of my life away only to start living in my fifties, sixties, or later, depending on how quickly I could permanently check myself out of the corporate world, was not an option for me. I didn’t want my entire life to be something I was waiting out for a future I was never guaranteed.

          I’m not guaranteed to live past today. I could die tomorrow. Repeat after me, friends: I could die tomorrow. The truth of that statement helped me get my shit together last year. I thought about what was so appealing about retirement. My answer was travel, and I decided I wasn’t going to wait decades to make it a priority. I wasn’t going to risk not arriving at my dream. I was going to make it happen, because I could die tomorrow. Furthermore, I wanted to be happy in the process, so I could not only to have the satisfaction of knowing that if I actually do die tomorrow – before making my dream reality – I’ll die trying, but also to know I’ll die happy.

          Again, to answer all the Debbie-Downer type questions that have been asked of me: No, I don’t know what I’m going to do after Europe, nor do I care. No, I don’t want to return to my current place of employment when I get back. It has always been my save-for-Europe job, not a career move. It has now fulfilled its purpose. And no, I’m not going to work while abroad to sustain myself. I saved enough to not have to.

          My next move is Europe. Not knowing where it will lead me is the exciting part. I’m not going to predict away that beautiful uncertainty. Don’t ask me what comes after Europe. It doesn’t matter yet. Ask me what I’m going to eat when I first land in Paris instead.

Happiness Tip: Remember, you could die tomorrow.

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