There’s a saying attributed to many people, but has long been a mantra of mine when it comes to creative endeavours.
“It’s a marathon… not a sprint.”
If you expect anything to work overnight, you’ll be sadly disappointed. If you try and move too fast, you’ll miss the bigger picture.
And despite having clung to this advice through much of my professional life, when it comes to my travels I seem to have forgotten everything I know about pacing myself.
The whole point of this trip is to spend the time I have to get the full experience everywhere I go. And it started off that way. But when I got to Melaka, I let my hyper-planner out of its cage and set about getting myself booked in places all the way through to the end of the month.
On one hand, I felt comfortable – I had a warm blanket of reservations, travel plans, and an idea of where I was going. But nothing magical has ever happened inside our comfort zones.
It was as I was leaving Sabah that I felt like I had overplanned myself. There were still things I wanted to do. I could have spent one more day lounging on Pulau Sapi – I had just gotten the hang of how things worked at the beaches. The guys at one of the coffee shops were starting to remember my name. I was feeling more comfortable with Kota Kinabalu’s minor state of vehicular chaos. The place was growing on me.
However, I had a plane to catch (two in fact), and a room already booked in Langkawi. Changing my course after five nights in Borneo would be an expensive proposition, and I had already made two costly mistakes on my trip while in KK.
So here I am, sitting in Langkawi, not terribly certain where I want to go next. And I’m actually kind of okay with this. I know I want to go to Penang next, and so it’s probably where I’ll go. But I haven’t booked any transport yet – if I’ve learned anything, there’s always a way to get from point A to point B around these parts, even on a last minute’s notice. And I don’t want to book anything just yet, in case I want to extend my stay a few days.
Beyond Penang, I’m not sure. Do I wrap up Malaysia and head north to Thailand? Do I hit up KL for a couple of days and turn south toward Bali? There are options. Inexpensive options.
What I do know is that I’m going to try and have more intent as I travel to stop and really take stock of what’s around me. Not rush things and let myself take time to breathe. It’s not about crossing reservations off a list or checking off names of cities.
It’s a marathon. Not a sprint.