The next chapter, or perhaps the next book
Oh what? You thought I was done writing just because I came back to California. Like I’ve said, writing isn’t a thing you just do, it is a compulsion.
I’ve got to say, being back home is already making me a bit anxious. I’ve now slept in the same, comfy bed for three nights in a row, I ate a hamburger bigger than my head, and every time I go over to a friend’s house I am constantly looking around for where I left my backpack (it’s like a piece of my anatomy just disappeared). Switching from the transitive to the sedentary is a horrifying experience for some of us. Unpacking felt like “nesting,” even though I unpacked into a washing machine rather than into drawers.
Once you get back all the questions start again: “What is next for you?,” “Are you gonna get a job?,and “How was the trip?” (which only 10% of people who ask you that actually want the full answer). The point is, some of us don’t think about answers to questions, some of us just drift around and experience as much as we can, we feel nothing, we feel everything, but the pertinent question of “what’s next” doesn’t ever cross our path as the float on…until it does.
Back in the beginning of December I was greatly affected by what I had seen in Laos. American bombs lie in fields and have waited patiently over 40 years to explode and kill children who never even saw them fall from the sky. I wrote a vignette called “Volatile Land,” and it continued to weigh heavily on me. Over the next few weeks I considered joining an organization to help, or even starting my own. Not sure where I would even begin to start something that might actually be able to do some good in the world, I decided to put the idea in my figurative pocket while I finished up the remainder of my trip. The next step would be to talk to some people when I got back to California who might have a better idea of where I should start. That plan didn’t last long. I lost sleep over the next 3 weeks, all of the simple freedoms that I enjoyed turned bitter in my mouth at the thought of those going without. By the time I got to Australia I was openly talking to people about my intentions to begin a bomb clearance organization focusing solely on Laos. It was incredible, every doubt I had was immediately extinguished by the positive response and helpful advice I received. Within a single week I had met a robotics engineer, two cold fusion scientists, and plenty more intellectuals with great ideas for the best approach.
Now that I am back in California, I have begun contacting (and attempting to contact) government figures, ex-military specialists, and other NGO heads. Everyone I run into wants to pitch in with skills, contacts, or funding. It’s wonderful that the altruism that inspired me to keep traveling is alive and well here in California as well.
I really do feel like I am lost at sea in this, but I’ve never felt so full of purpose and determination. A friend asked me, “So, what is the end goal for this?” My response is this, “I want to get one single bomb out of one field in Laos.” Success to me will be weighed by one life changed for the better, and if we can prove that we can do it for one village, then the goal will change from there.
So, I hope that answers the question of “What’s next, Jordan?”