Thoughts from Riding the Rails

We’ve started riding the rails. We walk up to the Sbahn and hop on the train and ride around with no real destination. We’ve ridden the ring almost all the way around the city. We’ve ridden the east/west line from one end of the ring to the other. And we’ve ridden the north/south line from top to bottom.

And we talk. Andy and I are good at talking.

riding the rails - thoughts from the Sbahn in Berlin

I’ve been feeling restless lately. Antsy for a big change, though I don’t know what exactly.

Our apartment has started feeling too much like the place we work. It’s too easy to spend almost every waking moment on our laptops working, or at least thinking we’re working. So in an effort to step back from the laptops, we’ve started going out more than we normally would.

Through our train talks, I’ve come to realize that I’m feeling stuck in a lot of ways. I’m struggling to figure out ways to make more money, because right now I’m still making less than I did at my entry-level first job out of college in 2002. I don’t like feeling like I have no control over how much I can earn. Every time one income stream starts to increase or I get a new source of income, another source decreases or dries up completely. I feel helpless and desperate.

My biggest passion is travel. So it’s natural that I pursued ways of turning that into a career. But I think somewhere along the way I got burnt out on writing about it. Constantly focusing on travel topics for work has caused me to lose steam with my own blog. I still love travel, but I have a hard time conveying that passion in my personal writing.

This year was tough, in many ways, and didn’t involve much travel. Certainly not much of the kind of travel I truly enjoy. It still upsets me that I had to cancel my trip to Slovenia, the destination I was looking forward to the most this year. I miss experiencing new places and, I’ll admit, checking them off the list.

So as I’m constantly writing about travel, here, on my other site, and with several contracts, I’m finding that I need a change of subject. I want something else to focus on, for the change of scenery so to speak, and so that I can enjoy travel more like I once did. But whenever I get a new idea, it feels like it’s been done to death and it’s not worth going after.

Mostly I’m realizing I need more of a purpose in my life. A big goal. A hobby that doesn’t involve leaving town. Something to focus on that can help reignite…whatever it is that’s been extinguished recently. I don’t even know what “it” is, but I’ve spent nights crying trying to figure it out.

I want to enjoy writing on this site again. I want to have time to write here again. I want to travel more. I want to find other interests. I want to explore Berlin more. I want to have more friends here. I want to feel more in control. I want to enjoy more of my life.

I want out of this spiral I’m trapped in.

I recently reread The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau. It’s about how pursuing a quest can give purpose and meaning to your life. The author set a quest for himself to get to every country in the world before age 35. (He completed it.) Other people he interviewed walked across countries, strove to see as many different kinds of birds as possible, or cooked a meal from every country in the world.

While navigating the city on those red and yellow trains, I’ve talked to Andy about my desire for a meaningful goal. A long (for me) trek somewhere interesting. Making it to every country in Europe by a certain time. Eating at one restaurant from every country in the world that’s represented in Berlin. They sound fun and challenging, though not quite the big one I’m looking for.

I’m craving that kind of purpose right now. I’m just not sure what my quest is yet.