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Around the World in 84 Days

Every journey must come to an end eventually, and such is the fate of mine. I thought my travels would be ending on Christmas Eve, a truly magical day to return to my loving family. Instead, it’s coming exactly three weeks early.

I had plans for another week in the Netherlands – I had an interview lined up, was scheduled to give a presentation on cycling to some PhD students, and was going to get a bike tour of Amsterdam from the very planners that create the city’s wonderful infrastructure. I had flights booked and hotel reservations for a four-day beach getaway to Las Palmas, Spain with my friend George, where the sun shines every day and the temperature sits constantly between 23 and 30 degrees. I made plans to stay with my friend Marie-Eve in Cologne, Germany, and we bought tickets to see a film festival together. I even had accommodations lined up in Berlin, where I was looking forward to reconnecting with a cycling colleague and friend, and learning about the city’s history. Finally, to top it all off, Marie-Eve was going to join me again for one final Europe weekend in Prague, after which I would triumphantly fly home from for Christmas.

So… why am I coming home early? Why did I cancel these plans, that surely would have been fulfilling, relaxing, enlightening, and also excellent for my career prospects?

I’m coming home early because, well, I miss normal life. I’ve literally reached my capacity to take and enjoy vacation. I miss having my own place, having friends and family close by and a buzzing social life, and I miss having an awesome job that challenges me (and the part where I make money is nice as well).

The realization that it was time to end my trip happened on Sunday. Despite having three weeks worth of plans that I thought sounded pretty awesome, I realized I was actually dreading them. Deciding to pull the plug on these plans lifted a giant weight off my chest. I booked a flight. I refunded everything I could, and cancelled and postponed interviews, meetings and visits. I made plans to get picked up from the airport by my parents, and go home.

Monday morning arrived, and I felt the happiest I had in weeks. My mind felt clearer and calmer, and dread was replaced with hope. The sun even came out to reveal the warmest weather I’ve experienced during the entire three weeks in Amsterdam. It was as if the city were trying to say don’t go Matt, I can change for you…

And so, here ends the worldly travels of Matt Ponders, with my trip around the world in 84 days. This won’t be my last post though – as I reflect on the trip over the next while, I’ll post more fun content recapping my highlights and learnings.

But for now, I’m going to work settling back into normal life, finding myself some routine, and a job. And of course, enjoy lots of time with the people I care about.

Talk to you again soon!

The BEST holidays

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