Sunday’s Inspiration: Half My Life Ago, This Week

“Time’s running out the door you’re running in” – Ian McCullough (1997).

Sunday's Inspiration: Half My Life Ago, This Week

Sunday’s Inspiration: Half My Life Ago, This Week

“In the blink of a young girl’s eye, glory days.” – Bruce Springsteen.

They say time flies and they don’t lie. Whoever “they” happens to be. As I head to Italy and France this week to live out a childhood dream of watching Northern Ireland play a tournament match, something else dawns on me and scares the living daylights out of me, Timothy Dalton style. At this very point in my life, if I cut my years in two exactly, then it reminds me of the day in June 1998 when I did my final exam as a trainee journalist, on the Media Techniques course at Belvoir Tech in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Yes, that exam was exactly HALF my life ago. It was a staggering 18 years ago. I don’t have any photos from that month, this one from 1997 will have to do.

A rare photo of me from Belvoir Tech Times, 1997.

A rare photo of me from Belvoir Tech days, 1997, on a cross border bus from Northern Ireland to Republic of Ireland.

“I’ve been waiting long for one of us to say. Save the darkness, let it never fade away” – A-ha.

I was 18 then, I’m 36 now. It’s not that I’ve “wasted” all these years that pains me (as it’s not been a waste), it’s really the fact that I was too busy doing other things to notice how old I had become. But yet here, aged 36 I am still your 18 year old buzzing at the thought of the next Oasis single coming out (good luck). I feel I am still back there, in 1998. I haven’t progressed or changed in any way I know.

My early days as a backpacker. On route to an Oasis concert in Dublin, aged 17.

My early days as a backpacker. On route to an Oasis concert in Dublin, aged 17.

That day I did my exam in Belvoir Tech (a 9 am exam in Belfast), was the same day that the 1998 World Cup started. It was Scotland v. Brazil that day live from France and I watched it with my Dad. This week, I will be in France, watching Poland v. Northern Ireland at the Euro 2016 tournament. With my Dad and brother Marko, and hopefully some friends down the years of supporting Northern Ireland through the good and bad. Back in 1998 I was studying all this communism melarkey while at Belvoir Tech. I was reading stuff about Lenin, comparing it to Paisley, or Thatcher and generally doing my own nut in. I was caught up in the politics of Northern Ireland in 1998, helping with a Good Friday Agreement councillor’s election campaign. A sentimental shiver still strolls relentlessly through my spine each and every time I backpack in the former Soviet Union. But it all linked back to Belfast City (beat).

“Take me to the magic of the moment on a glory night” – Scorpions.

Lenin and I whackpacking in Bishkek

Lenin and I whackpacking in Bishkek

In the intervening years I have doubled my lifespan, done a bit of travelling, had more failed romances than anyone I know and apart from this website, I really have nothing to show from it. Yes, nothing. That melancholic fact is rather sad and disturbing. I’m back where it all began, none the wiser, none the richer, none the poorer. The same. I am stagnant. It’s odd, it’s really odd.

“Here I am going nowhere on a train, here am I growing older in the rain” – Noel Gallagher.

Here am I, going nowhere on a train. Here am I, growing older in the rain.

Here am I, going nowhere on a train. Here am I, growing older in the rain.

I don’t know what dreams I had when I sat on that bench with my backpack (photo a few above), heading to the Oasis concert as a 17 year old, but it probably wasn’t to run a website and backpack the world with zero purpose. It wasn’t what I wanted. This week, there’s another odd full circle here.

jonny blair moscow

I didn’t mean to do all this with my life

I’m back in the city of Cork, Republic of Ireland this week, for the first time since that Oasis gig. That goes back even further in fact, that would be 20 years ago, 1996. I definitely had bigger and better dreams back then than being a long term budget backpacking travel expert.

I’ve nothing nothing with my life, YET.

YET, this is important. Sooner or later, I will do something with my life and people will remember it.

I’m the young one. I’m the 18 year old in the 36 and we start again. I’ve had so many dreams today, that I can’t get no sleep…

“While we’re living, the dreams we have as children, fade away” – Noel Gallagher.

jonny blair national monument jakarta

Backpacking in Jakarta, Indonesia

2 thoughts on “Sunday’s Inspiration: Half My Life Ago, This Week

  • Are you kidding me? You have more to show for yourself in the past 5 years than most people have to show for their entire life! You not only found a way to turn travel into a career, but you also believed in yourself enough to make it work for as long as it has been worker. Nothing stopped you from taking that next step. And because of that, you know nothing will stop you from succeeding in any other future challenges that come your way in life. If you want to be remembered for something, then it would be as a guy who lived life the way he wanted – not just wished for it to happen.

  • Hi Ray, thanks for the comment. Yes, I’m not sure where I’m heading next really. It’s all a bit confusing when you are used to a nomadic life for so long, and have been in a long term relationship, documenting every day of your life on the internet. It could be time for a complete break from the blog for a month. I’m not sure yet. Safe travels. Jonny

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