Friday, October 29, 2010

PTSS... A New Psychiatric Disorder.

There's a new Psychiatric disorder going around, and knocks a lot of good people over unexpectedly. Highly contagious, it transmits itself across gender, race, and border controls rapidly, and they've still got to come up with a cure for it. I'm a sufferer. PTSS (or as it once was- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) for many people has come to stand for Post Travel Stress Disorder. And it is seriously debilitating, no known cure, apart from deliberately incurring more of what caused it in the first place...but Bank Managers are not sympathetic enough to even consider any more funding for such an expensive cure. You are on your own ... left to get over it with empty pockets and without treatment... Perhaps Gap Adventures new brochures might help.....they're due any day.

When I started this blogsite, I had two main reasons.

1.Relating our travel experiences in a manner to publicise wildlife conservation issues.

I've had an intense interest in wildlife, and had my earlier life not taken an unexpected twist, I'd probably have pursued a more academic career in a Biological Science field. That was not to be, and looking back it has been a great life and I would not want it any other way. The unknown horizon has always held my gaze, rather than looking back where I've been.
There's a war going on, carried on by well funded criminal syndicates , fuelled by the strong demand of Traditional Chinese Medicine for animal parts, Africa's wildlife is being stripped at an ever increasing rate. Elephant poaching for ivory is soaring, rhino are being killed at an alarming rate, and in other parts of the world, growing concern about the rapid decline in species, much of that because countries are being stripped of rare species and container loads being illegally shipped to China..And the not so rare, are now endangered.
Returning home after our Namibia wildlife volunteer project at Naankuse, it was my intention do do a bit to help. It seemed I could be most effective at setting up a blogsite, and writing about our travel experiences to highlight some of these issues. You'll note that most posts do reference a species that needs publicising, without being overly zealous and ramming these subjects down your throat.

2. Taking the best of our travel stories and publishing them.
I've bookmarked a couple of websites where items posted on this blog, can be collated and published in a real book. Hey, no need to be the world's greatest travel writer these days. Wonderful. I kind of like the idea of our coffee table having a glossy book by a distinguished author like myself strategically placed  in front our very impressed visitors. Visitors be is going to be a very thick book, we have been travelling since our first OE (overseas experience for all you non Australasians) in 1974 when we took off to UK and Europe.
 Reliving our experiences and the revival of those memories makes the project more enjoyable. Some of our adventures now seem more real, and others are there just wanting to jump out and lay themselves out across this screen. So many.....

This PTSS has got me contemplating and reflecting ...time for a rethink.
Over on Caz and Craig's travel site we've been discussing how hard it can be to settle into a mode after travelling. For Caz and Craig the transition from Nomad to 'normality' is difficult, perhaps unobtainable. It is an interesting concept, and a lot of us may not understand the problem. I can. Travellers will.

PTSS is a wee bit different. It is lethargy when it comes to anything to do with getting back into 'normal' life. OK, you get over the jet lag, but the syndrome has it's tentacles around every neuron in your brain.
It is a time of mixed up thoughts, loss of direction, running off  on tangents, and ...oh what was I thinking...lost it.

But PTSS is also a time of renewal. It's a time of finding a new trail out of that directionless meandering.  It's a time of a complete refocus !  And decisions. Setting your sight once again upon the horizon.

A sign of recovery ?

Hopefully...still some work to do though.

Travel for me, over the years has become more of an experience to learn and contribute, rather than sightseeing, or another photo opportunity. Nowadays there have to be better reasons.
I have been intending to travel back next May to volunteer again with EHRA here-
It's a project making a real difference in mitigating the human-elephant conflict  in Namibia and I support them from home by publicising Johanes and his volunteer team at every opportunity. I long to get back there.

However, the more I read of rhino poaching and elephant slaughters in Africa, the more I feel I need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of my contribution there in terms of costs and time. Could my dollars on airfares etc. be better invested in other methods to aid animal conservation there? And these ideas cropped up yesterday during a conversation  with my wife Kay, over our after work glass of wine while sitting in  our  courtyard, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. We were chatting together about travel plans for 2011. We always have plans! But next year there are none, just ideas, and there's a void in our lives at present normally filled by that next booking we've just made. In fact  we have often flown out of NZ on one trip , having already booked the very next.
PSST surged, took over my neurons again and I found myself suggesting we don't travel next year. How incredible...  I couldn't believe I'd said it.
Kay looked at me, and said she couldn't believe how in sync we are....she was thinking the same!
Then stated "I can't believe you're saying that.That's not the man I know".

PSST settled down, relaxed it's strangle hold , and a more enlightened mood evolved, and discussions took a more realistic track. We may not do a 'biggie' trip. We have little enthusism (at this time ) for another 8 weeks away. Kay may plan to join our daughter in Europe for a shorter time. Myself, I'm up  in the air...... and not on a plane either.

A wee digression- Blogging has opened up a whole new world for me, as I'm sure it does for countless others , otherwise we wouldn't be wasting so much time, talking to so few, about so little. It's enjoyable because we're learning, developing latent skills, and most importantly we are  developing friendships with many more like minded people. And the realization dawns that I'm not going to be a great travel writer, or have a site that earns big bucks , but that was not what I set out to do and I need to press that Reset button and get on track again, and be a good travel blogger, and use my site for the original reasons above.

So here's the questions for my friends reading this-

Do I spend a lot of time and money travelling next year to help in another wildlife project in Africa?

Or do I stay home and invest that money in a conservation project or projects that make a direct impact there?

Post your thoughts please?

PS- This is why? --
Elephants of Chad


Jools stone said...

Wow Jim, it's a very tough call. On the one hand by going out there you will perhaps see & exp more, meet more ppl at coalface etc (assuming you get involved with new projects) and thus be better placed to publicise the work, hopefully prompting funds & motivation from others to get on board. But on t'other, it depends how much of yr money gets sucked into the travel part vs increased donations. Know what you mena about blogging feeling like talking to a small, but lovely, coterie of other bloggers but don't underestimate the power of what you're doing in raising awareness and the viral msg spreading eventually (esp thru twitter and fbook). I've never done any sort of volounteer work for example but reading yr posts makes me think about it more than say reading something in the press. I'm not entirely sure why, but pers connection and your obvious passion coming through in the writing has got to factor into it somehow. Great heartfelt post, your tbex comment seriously undersold it!

lilypond said...

Another wildlife project in Africa, if I were you and to .... with the moeny. It's such a worhtwhile cause and to be directly involved..fantastic. I love the style of this post, a lot!

Cathy Sweeney said...

First of all, excellent article! Honest, well-written and full of personality.

I give you much credit for your work on behalf of your worthy causes. You pose a very important question here. I think the decision is so personal that I'm not sure that anyone can really help. Either option is commendable and we should all be at least contemplating choices like that at some point in our lives(most of us don't). So it really comes down to what you really feel is right for you. And I think it's absolutely OK if that means continuing to travel to do good even though that obviously means spending some of the money. Being hands-on with the project may bring more benefit than you imagine to the cause and be well-worth the expense of getting and keeping you there.

Nancie said...

Jim, I think you have to go where your heart takes you.........that might even mean staying home. Only you know the answer.

I definitely suffer from PTSS the moment I walk through the airport doors. What do I do? I go home, fire up the computer and start planning the next adventure. :)

Amy said...

Great post! I'll have been traveling for a year solid once I return to the UK in mid-April and I am actually a bit worried about adapting back into 'real life'. It's nice to know I'm not alone! :)

Red Nomad OZ said...

Would it help to look at it in purely financial terms in the first instance? How much would you spend on the O/S trip? And if that was converted to local action, how much could that achieve? Other considerations like relative level of impact etc could then be factored in. We hear a lot about 'food miles' in terms of sustainability, but what about 'travel miles' as a factor in overseas aid effectiveness? Of course I'm NOT advocating a 'no travel' policy - sometimes that's the most effective mechanism to drive change - but it's a consideration that isn't always made.

From another angle, numbers of Facebook and blog followers have grown considerably since I started following your blog - maybe your influence is greater than you think??

Happy travels!!

Caz Makepeace said...

I love how you said PTSS is a time of renewal and refocus. It is just another stage of your life that needs to be viewed as a new adventure. It's the only way to deal with it.
Your decision is a tough call. You have to listen very carefully to what your heart and your gut is telling you to do. The answers might not come for awhile but keep asking the right questions and if you listen well, the answers will come.

Sandy said...

Wow, very interesting post. Got me thinking, which I think a lot of people should do before setting off. With regards to your question, I guess you probably need to follow your heart. You are obviously very passionate about wild life conservation. Both your options are amazing. I wish more people would consider these options. And you know how much you will get out of travelling there and getting involved.
All I can say is well done for what you have done so far. Great inspiration for us all.

Jim said...

Gee,thanks everyone.Kind of humbling to read so many great and helpful replies. And I really mean helpful.Places it all in perspective. As Sandy says, and as I began to realize as I completed and reread the post, both options are amazing....but as Jools says..a tough call.
Coincidentally, just after I posted, an email arrived and we have begun discussing a related option. And I feel it's promising.
I'm going to let you all know about it as soon as it's confirmed.

Amy said...

We always convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, than another. Then we are frustrated that the kids are not old enough and well be more content when they are. After that were frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We always tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together. When we get a nice a car, and are able to go on a nice vocation when we retire. The truth is, there's no better time than right now. if not now, when? Our life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to ourselves and decide to be happy anyway.

zablon said...

its nice that you and your wife are in sync that is really lovely. personally i would prefer to go to the project on the ground and help with the wild life rather than staying at home and letting another organization do it for me while i support them with funds. i would want to feel really involved with the project

Norbert said...

Really great post Jim! I think we all have a degree of PTSS. Aren't our blogs our placebos when we are not traveling?

Ouch, that's a tough decision and both options have their valid ups and downs.

In my opinion (and I might be wrong), going there might be more fulfilling for you in terms that you are dealing directly with your cause and are absorbing everything from your experience, but like you said, some of your money will be consumed by travel. On the other hand, yes, you can give more by staying home, but will that be enough for you? would you feel like you need to be there to be part of it? Those are very personal questions only you can answer. Traveling or not, the important thing is that YOU are making a difference.

Jim said...

Your last sentence Norbert hangs in my mind...and that is my main objective,and either way I will be.That plane I'm on is still circling ...gonna run out of fuel soon.LOL.
After such a long trip 8 weeks ,I am amazed at my lack of enthusiam for overseas travel.So I'm thinking we plan little trips around our backyard(NZ) next year.And channel the savings into a wildlife project.....may have more to say on this shortly.Not like me to be so indecisive..... Love the comments from everyone, much appreciated, sometimes it pays to elicit insight from others.Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I personally have a unique issue with african animal poaching. At university I studied Conservation law enforcement, post university I worked as an LEO, and conservation ranger. I'm also a licensed pilot. If I was in these areas I would rather assist the military to root out the poachers and do what needed to be done to save the animals, than spend the time assisting non-profits. They have their place, but until you put out the fire, the tinderbox will always be threatened

Kelly said...

Nice post Jim!! I guess maybe the answer will come to you if you just wait it out. I find myself in the same state of indecision often.. but eventually, if I just sit on it, I figure it out.

And if you decide not to travel, I have no doubt that you will still find a way to make a difference.

Jim said...

Hi Ravenrider,with your background and pilot skills you'd get a job over there easy in anti-poaching patrols. They're crying out for people to help. I can supply contact details if you want.

Jim said...

It's working out OK Kelly, like you say, just a little time....
Been left a very small legacy, enough to allow me to achieve both. Crazy how these coincidences come along just when they're needed.
And the mindset is changing, and anticipation rebuilding , so I must be recovering. LOL>