Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Midlife Crisis or Wanderlust Gone Wrong?

When I was little, I daydreamed of travelling the world, I loved globes, atlas' and maps - many of my favourite books had a map in them - even if it was of Middle Earth. 

I'm not your usually sunny beach in Spain sort of tourist, I'm by no means at all an adrenaline junkie but I do have an explorer spark -  when we went to Vegas for our tenth wedding anniversary, one of the highlights was kayaking down the Colorado river and honeymooning in the Maldives meant I was usually snorkelling in the sea with reef sharks and giant turtles. 

Where most of my friends are eagerly anticipating European beach holidays, I'm hoping for an icy trek to a remote Icelandic waterfall, a conservation holiday to the Galapagos, visiting the city of Petra, indulging my spiritual side in Bhutan, Hugging trees in an eco resort in Costa Rica (Luxury eco resort of course)  keeping my fingers crossed for an untouristy Inca trail to Machu Picchu, taking the train with the glass roof through the Rocky Mountains, learning to cross country ski through a Finnish forrest, loosing myself in a small Greenland village or pushing myself to my limits crossing a wobbly wooden bridge on a hike to base camp, Everest.  One of my all time favourite Movies is the Secret Life of Walter Mitty and in it he visits many places on my destination wish list and his imagination is very much like mine.

I have wanderlust and it's bad, an itching desire to explore the world. Our children are almost 12 and 10 and have never been abroad - if we are ever lucky enough to all have time off from school/work at the same time, we have such a large family scattered across the UK that holidays abroad keep being shelved so we can see our wonderful family, with Covid I anticipate it'll be over two years since we last saw some of our family. 

In the 12 years of being a parent, I have managed to travel to Verona for two short weekend breaks and Las Vegas for a 5 day epic celebration, believe me when I say they were wonderful trips and I really don't mean to sound ungrateful, It's just I envisage more travel than that in 12 years. 

Summer 2020 was supposed to be the first year we were taking the children abroad - it seemed like the prefect opportunity to celebrate our eldest finishing primary school ... but covid happened and like all middle class families on the outskirts of London, we got a puppy instead. 

Summer 2021 looks like a write off to - if the pandemic reaches a stage where we are safe to travel, the chances of us all having time off from work and two schools at the same time, having someone look after our puppy and finding a European holiday are slim. 

I can't help but feel a bit deflated, as I'm getting significantly older, I can't actually see a moment in my life where I go to any of the places on my destination list, I think it really hit me when I watched the Sherpa documentary - firstly - it was an eye opener just how exploited some of the Sherpa's are, I would not expect someone to risk their life so that I could have a hot towel or fizzy pop (and how dare the Everest tourists who do, demand that!) and I can't believe that it costs an eye-watering  £100k to climb but the documentary said Sherpa's aren't even paid enough to cover their own funeral costs (if they perish on the mountain it would cost £400 for their funerals)

I think the biggest realisation was that for me, my Everest ambition has passed my by, apart from it being a totally unaffordable sum of money, my goals slowly shifted, I used to think I had as good a shot as anyone at reaching the summit (when I was about 13 I remember conquering Striding Edge on Helvellyn and thinking Everest was totally accomplishable)  then I used to scale it back to camp one and then I started to think I'd probably die just trying to get to camp one but I still wanted to have a go and now base camp isn't even an option! I cannot see a point in my life where I would be fit and healthy enough to do the challenge now I'm a mum in my forties, life has simply passed by quicker than I was able to realise that dream. It was enough for me to go and have a little cry in the bathroom, Its just hit me quite hard that I am indeed a mum in my forties who is never going to climb Everest or even just reach base camp ... so in reality is my wanderlust actually evolving into some sort of weird midlife crisis?  

I tried to give myself a reality check, after all I definitely wouldn't swap my children for anything, not even Everest and crying in the bathroom because I'm not going to explore the world like I thought I would back in 1987 is a little over indulgent ... and not to mention utterly ridiculous when there are literally millions of people loosing their lives to covid right now. 

Get a grip Emma, you can do better. 

Grand Canyon by Emma Clement - Emma in Bromley