Today was the first Thursday in a pretty long time where I’ve woken up without being buzzed by an alarm and then without a single look at my phone, rolled over to the cold side of the pillow and gone back to sleep. Today I had remembered, was not a day for going to the office.
It’s an obviously strange experience when for the last few years Monday to Friday mornings have been an orchestrated daily performance of hastily finished cups of coffee, smoothing down of crumpled shirts, and flitted checks of the clock making sure you’ll reach your desk in time for emails, calendar invites, and your second cup of coffee.
The key to my new found restfulness it turns out had been an almost disappointingly short email I had sent a few days previously; ‘…I Lawrence Brand would like to give notice that I will be leaving this role…’. After a long time in a job, it feels strange that all those daily interactions with your office friends, those plans made, goals set, and meetings held, feel so easily dismissed. I wanted it to be more dramatic, and to feel more hard-won. In reality though I, just like so many others before me, had quit their job to explore the world and in the context of a steady 9-5 that feels less about succeeding and lot more like dropping out.
The company had been good to me, once I’d explained that I was leaving to build a bicycle in the corner of my apartment and then ride it from Romania to China, and once they had smiled and nodded their heads sympathetically, I’d been allowed to not work my notice. So I now had a month free to feverishly finalize my project, but what I was immediately haunted by was a sensation of how quickly the meaning and importance of that office work you’d been frowning over last week seemed to have evaporated, or that perhaps you’d deceived yourself into ever assigning it too great a value.
Don’t get me wrong though, I do feel lucky, not only that I now have the luxury of this free time to build my bicycle, but also that I had a clear, strong, and encompassing plan to fill my world up again with. Making bicycles had been my long term goal for years by this point, and I’d been only vaguely successful in trying to squeeze it into weekends and after dinner time since I had moved to London in 2012. So to wake up today with the immediacy that I must work on this now is a fantastically energizing feeling.
Feeling that empty space where the office job used to be is actually something positive then, because I know that building this bicycle and riding it 6000km across 10 countries is going to be more than enough to fill it.
There’s also no sense in which I am as ready as I ever thought I’d need to be, I don’t have my visas organized, I don’t have a finalized route, I haven’t even made a bicycle yet. I’d previously imagined I’d slip away from the office to a beautiful and neatly arranged Porterlight bicycle workshop where my touring prepared cargo bike would await, but we all know life is far more scrappy than that. What I have instead is a near joyful feeling of under-preparedness.
What I’ve done then is make the plunge. I’ve jumped in at the deep end, and am now planning to flail my arms and legs until I learn enough about swimming to keep my head above water. In a reassuring way the metaphorical life jacket I’m wearing is this: I know I’ve made the right decision. Having dreamed about this for so long, to find myself sitting here at home on a grey Thursday morning, with bikes parts strewn around me and maps pinned to the wall, without a completely solid plan, and with a hundred tasks and thousands of questions left to answer, I am truly happy.
If you’re reading this then I presume you’re also teetering on the brink of your day job. My only advice can be this: chase your dreams, take the plunge.