While I am travelling I always keep extensive journals. It is something I have always done, and it was a habit that stood me in good stead when it came time to write my Vietnam book.
It's amazing what ends up in these journals. Of course, there is the run-of-the-mill observations of scenery, but also lots of complaining and lots of surprising obsession and flirtation.
But most interesting to me are the lists I make. I make lists about places I hope to visit wherever I am, and I also make lists of things I MUST do as soon as I get home. Invariably I get home and don't look at these lists for years, and when I do their content seems bewildering.
Being a confirmed bibliophile and compulsive reader, I also keep a list of books I will read immediately upon my return. Who knows where the content of these lists come from. Something has occurred to me while travelling, and I suddenly remember a gap in my reading. Or I have picked up some bizarre paperback at a book exchange in the backpacker area, and it recommends some odd titles I decide, in the heat of the moment, will be essential to my development when I get back to Australia.
Here is the list I made in my journal in October last year while in Ho Chi Minh City:
Books to Read When I get Home:
- Julian of Norwich
- Rimbaud biography
- Dancing With Life by Phillip Moffitt
- The new Andrew Pham book
- Fame Formula by Mark Borkowski
- Cialdini's Persuasion
- The Four Agreements
- Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
- Birth of Vietnam by Keith Weller Taylor
I've attempted to read Julian of Norwich for years, but keep drifting off.
I've had the Rimbaud biography on my shelves for years but have never picked it up.
The new Andrew Pham book is disappointing, and I just can't get into it.
I've already read The Four Agreements years ago, and found it quite uninspiring, so heaven knows why I felt the need to re-visit it.
I think that the act of being a tourist is liberating in all kinds of ways, and these lists represent a re-invention a positive conviction that, upon returning, I will be a new and better person.
Alas, it almost always turns out not to be the case...