First thing’s first, what is static friction? Kinetic friction you are already aware of, the friction when an object is in motion that leads to a loss in momentum/energy. Static friction is the friction between two objects that are not moving. Generally, more force is required to get an object moving from its static position than if it were already in motion.
Think about making a snowman. As you roll a little snowball into a big one, you just keep going. It gets a bit harder to push as time goes on, but you can manage it. As soon as the big snowball comes to a rest though, it is very hard to get it moving again. That’s static friction.
It looks something like this.
I have experienced static friction at times on this trip. Not really in the beginning as the newness and bountiful discoveries were all so overwhelming. But I now find myself able to get comfortable in places and have a hard time getting back on the road. That was true of Cyprus for sure. It was also true in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Some places have a great combination of qualities that leave me feeling very comfortable. Such features include weather, scenery, history, culture, food, and lifestyle. But most of all it’s the people.
I was very cold in Tbilisi so the weather wasn’t really a contributing factor, but the people there were wonderful and so was everything else. I didn’t want to leave. There was so much of Georgia I hadn’t seen and so much time with amazing people yet to be experienced. But alas, I booked a cheap plane ticket from Ankara to Beirut and I had to move on.
I left Tbilisi on a night train bound for Batumi, a city on the black sea just minutes from the Turkish border. From there I would continue down through eastern Turkey and into Iraq. The day before I left I had a bit of diarrhea and the day I left I had a lot of diarrhea. I knew I wasn’t sick though. It was nervousness and anxiety. I knew it was. I knew that as soon as I got on the train I’d feel better, but until then overcoming the static friction involved that nervousness and anxiety.
I was upset with myself. I realize that going to Iraq would make most people nervous, so a bit of nervousness was fair and only human. This car bombing happening a few days before didn’t help. But it was more than that. I have drifted from my inward journey, starting in India and continuing the past few months. I remember thinking “I trust myself but not my environment.” It doesn’t work that way. I have long struggled with the idea of confidence and how it applies to living life in a meaningful way. I still haven’t found the right balance with confidence, humbleness, faith, and acceptance.
But what was most disappointing was that I knew as soon as I got on the train I’d feel fine. And I did feel fine once the train got moving. While traveling I’m “in the zone.” I know how to do it well and I love discovering what’s on the other side of every journey. But at the same time I find myself wanting to stay a bit longer in places, develop friendships, focus on future projects, etc.
I wouldn’t call it planting roots or settling down. I think after you’ve traveled so many months in a row you may long a bit for more stability the way a traveler who is stationary for a long period of time longs for getting back on the road. Maybe some more balance is needed. Maybe I need to figure out how to combine traveling with catching my breath more often. It’ll be healthier for me and allow me not to lose my deep appreciation, my wanderlust for traveling.
Going back to being disappointed about not being able to tame the anxiety inside me, it’s ammunition to focus within more going forward. And I do still see the positives – that I don’t let anxiety or nervousness get in the way of what my heart wants. For now I am using the brute force method to break this static friction, but soon I hope to use meditation to eliminate as much friction as I can from my life as a whole.