The one thing I really miss – and I mean really miss – when I'm travelling through this world is my music. There are, of course, plenty of other things I miss as well, such as family, friends, pint glasses and regular income... but that's about all I can think of, to be honest, and I'm surviving without the pints and regular income perfectly well. Music, however, is a really painful vacuum.
There I am, watching another sunset over a Fiordland lake, and everything's perfect except for the soundtrack. Sure, the gentle lapping waves are beautiful, the chirping birds are probably rare and the complete lack of human intrusion is pleasant, but nothing would beat a bit of Pink Floyd to go down with the sun. Or I'm sitting in the middle of a busy New Zealand town – yes, there are some out there, believe it or not – and the riff from a Led Zeppelin track pumps through my head, making me want to start playing my air-guitar right there in the street. Driving requires all sorts of mood music, from vicious metal riffs to cool, ambient vibes, depending on the type of journey and the speed of the car, and although I have a few tapes that I'm playing to death, I really, really miss being able to take CDs from my collection at home and simply stick 'em on the stereo.
I've just finished reading a book about U2, something I picked up in Invercargill from the second-hand book shop for a few dollars; the subject appealed to me, despite being nearly ten years out of date, because I have fond memories of seeing U2 live at Wembley Stadium on their Zooropa tour. I was dumbstruck then – it was a powerful event – and reading this book really brought it all home, how much the idea of carving out a career in something like music has always appealed to me. I say 'like music' because I'm definitely over the 'I wanna be a rock star' stage – I have neither the talent nor the confidence, unfortunately – but whereas my dream job as a teenager was to be a computer magazine editor (a dream that I'd realised by the time I was 23), I now look at the perfect job as something slightly more artistically rewarding, whether it's writing or something I haven't discovered yet.
I've often given thought to what I will do when I return, and the possibilities are intriguing: I could work for a technology company; I could go back into journalism; I could go back to university and study a course that I actually care about this time; or I could move into an area which is totally new to me. There's little use in planning anything at this stage, but whatever the future holds, at least the present is pretty damn rosy, so I have the luxury of being able to ponder my future without actually having to do anything about it.
Oscar Wilde once wrote, 'A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?' and the same can be said about travelling around Fiordland, the huge area of wilderness in the southwest of the South Island. According to the guidebooks it's the highlight of most people's trip to New Zealand, and it's certainly been my highlight, though probably for different reasons to the bungee-jumping crowd. I've been tramping myself into oblivion, sometimes quite literally, and loving every minute of it. Perhaps my next career aspiration will be to be a professional walker? Who knows...