Sure sitting in a cushy office and working the nine-to-overtime drill provides a degree of stability and routine, not to mention financial security, but there are downsides. For one, it can give rise to complacency. It’s easy to perhaps find yourself no longer challenged or you become comfortable with the situation – even if it’s not what it’s cracked up to be – just because you might be scared of change or can’t be bothered with the extra effort that comes with challenge and growth. In the end you’re at risk of becoming bogged down by the daily grind of it all. You become stagnant.
The thing is you may not even realise until you find yourself pondering life. Are you happy? Who are you? What makes you tick? What have you achieved in your life? What do you regret? What is your potential? What are you capable of? What can challenge you to find this out? It’s the making of the all-too common identity crisis. And what’s more, it doesn’t have to strike when a milestone birthday is looming. A wedding, a breakup, a death: all of these can trigger a bout of anxiety and self-doubt and the realisation that life is too short.
As I sat on an empty commuter train home after being the last to leave the office (again), the setting sun already cocooned in the blanket of night, I found myself pondering.
These exact questions were worming their way inside my head. They unsettled me, repeating over and over like a dishwasher stuck on a cycle that can’t click off, only to start again. But worse than that was the fact there was an ugly great void where the answers should have been. I didn’t like that. Not one bit.
And so a plan was concocted. Quit my job. Go freelance. Visit or climb 40 volcanoes by the age of 40 – a feat to be achieved within five and a half years.
This was by definition a comfort-zone buster of epic proportions, not to mention a savings-swallower. But the choice was simple: stay stuck in a job (albeit great with great people), content with watching the minutes, months, years go by and dreaming of the perfect life or actually making change happen, finding myself and seeking my full potential? I chose the latter because the things I could learn, people I could meet, and stories I could share (and hopefully be paid for – a journalist has to make a living you know) promised to enrich my life in ways not achieved through a Google search term.
And so, the quest was on.
1. Mt Teide – Tenerife
2. Mt Vesuvius – Italy
3. Stromboli – Italy
4. Mt Etna – Sicily, Italy
5. Mt Eyjafjallajökull – Iceland
6. Thrihnukagigur volcano – Iceland
7. Ponta do Pico – The Azores, Portugal
8. Nea Kameni – Santorini, Greece
9. Avachinsky Volcano – Russia
10. Mt Ararat – Turkey
11. Jebel Sirwa – Morocco
12 Ngauruhoe – New Zealand
13. Mt Taranaki – New Zealand
14. White Island – New Zealand
15. Mt Fuji – Japan
16. Sakurajima volcano – Japan
17. Mt Aso – Japan
18. Mt St Helens – USA
19. Yellow Stone National Park– USA
20. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park– Hawaii, USA
21. Piton de la Fournaise – ReunionIsland, Indian Ocean
22. Nevis Peak – St Kitts and Nevis, Caribbean
23. Ambrym volcano – Vanuatu
24. Krakatau – Indonesia
25. Ijen Volcano – Indonesia
26. Sinabung volcano – Indonesia
27. Mt Bromo – Indonesia
28. Mt Semeru – Indonesia
29. Mt Rinjani – Indonesia
30. Mt Agung – Bali
31. Mt Pinatubo – Philippines
32. Cotopaxi – Ecuador
33. Arenal Volcano – Costa Rico
34. Pacaya – Guatemala
35. Lanin – Chile/Argentina border
36. Villarrica – Chile
37. Masaya – Nicaragua
38. El Misti – Peru
39. Mt Kilimanjaro – Tanzania
40. Nyiragongo, Virunga volcanoes – Rwanda/Uganda/DRC
* These volcanoes may be subject to change depending on circumstances such as travel advisories or seismic activity that recommend against travelling to the volcanoes or the surrounding areas