Sure, there are a handful of you out there that have figured out the #winning! combination that both quenches your worldly thirst and satisfies your budget. Most of us have yet to be so lucky. Maybe it’s the Pisces in me, the endless dreamer, the wanderer that is constantly willing to put it all on the line to “get my kicks before the whole sh!thouse goes up in flames.”
They say it’s our last go of it, the Pisces that is. Perhaps in another life I had a fancy house and a shiny new car. Maybe I was a Wall Street executive and drove a Lincoln. In this life I’ve never put any great value in the all mighty dollar beyond its ability to take me on the next adventure. And life has been just that for this Pisces, a steady stream of adventures. For my part there is something universal that needs knowing, an understanding of humanity that is in need of constant pursuit.
I’ll take a night alone by the fire is some god forsaken dessert gazing at the stars and picking out old country songs on the guitar over all the silk in Paris. It’s just my nature. I’ve always been a firm believer that if a man (or a woman) wishes to do something truly great in this world, he or she must be willing to sacrifice everything that they have in the name of it. For the traveling folks amongst us it should be pretty clear, for the unconventionalists, the same. The security and stability of our own societies is usually the first to the guillotine.
I’ll tell you from experience it gets harder as you go on. Every time you ditch all your belongings and head back into the world with a backpack and a dream in your hand you distance yourself a little more from reconnecting with the life you once had, the stability you once had. I personally grow fond of the distance. But let’s face it – it’s not all peaches and cream.
It makes perfect sense when you have a backpack, a one way plane ticket and a stack of cash that’ll cover a year abroad. You feel so victorious as you’re chucking your belongings away to the highest bidder and shedding the materialism of the life you know. There’s something there, something driving you to the other side amidst the company of confused onlookers. A year later you’re fresh off a flight from Hong Kong standing on a New York City street corner with five bucks US, a few stray rupees and no where to hang your hat.
What did you get for your trouble? Only things that no one will ever be able to take from you, experience, ideas, an understanding of the world. But there you are standing on that street corner with the realization that this is the same old world that you left. The rules haven’t changed. It’s only you that has changed and you didn’t realize until right that very moment. You had maybe even blocked it out.
When you’re traveling you are with travelers, people with similar interests, ambitions, goals and beliefs. You don’t feel so alone in your quest to experience life in this way. After wandering for so long you come to expect these things of people. But there you are on that street corner with nothing to your name and you’re looking around. The travelers aren’t there. For the last year you would walk up to any given person and start a conversation. So, where ya from?
Everybody looks so busy now. You have to wonder what they’re doing? It’s a mad dash this way and that but to what ends you keep asking yourself. Society in this country is cheap and it costs a lot of money. I don’t mean to in any way devalue the dreams of others. I believe this world is a place where one should pursue their dreams, whatever they are and so long as they don’t impede others in doing the same. I just don’t see it though. All of the little plastic boxes on the hillside that all look just the same.
In the end one of two things happen. You miss the stability enough that the trip you were just on becomes a great story and you go back to your real life or you are set in a state of constant motion. The need to keep going, to broaden your understanding and experience the unexperienced overpowers your will to do much of anything else. Maybe you can keep it at bay for a time, but then it starts to nag at you. It calls you while you sleep. It whispers in the quietest corners of your being, yet you must rebuild before moving along. So how do you rebuild with the same wonder that you tramp?
That is this traveler’s dilemma. What’s yours?
“When you’re traveling you are with travelers, people with similar interests, ambitions, goals and beliefs. You don’t feel so alone in your quest to experience life in this way. After wandering for so long you come to expect these things of people. But there you are on that street corner with nothing to your name and you’re looking around. The travelers aren’t there. For the last year you would walk up to any given person and start a conversation. So, where ya from?”
I must disagree with this idea. There are travelers everywhere! Maybe you have to go a thousand miles away to meet another traveler; all I need do is cross the street. Your banality leaves others breathless, and as eager as you are to leave it, so are others as eager to see it for themselves.
You are operating under the assumption that one must be far away from the place they hung their hat last to be travelling. This is not true. Those that seek adventure without do so because they’ve yet to discover, or accept, the adventure within.
On a greater level, we are travelers, every one of us. Even those who never leave their home, or read a book, or hear another language, or sing another man’s song, are still our fellow travelers on this great fantastic voyage through the meaning of it all. They all, as do we, have something powerful and beautiful to offer ourselves and the whole world, in whatever way they are able and/or willing to do so. We should not belittle them their choice of passage, nor should we feel ours is better because it seems right to us at the time and theirs does not. It is not for us to judge the methods of another man’s madness, as every one of us should hope we should not be judged for ours, for to exist at this moment is a sure sign of insanity in all of us.
You’re right, there are travelers everywhere. I knew as I wrote that paragraph and one other that I had some controversy coming my way. I’m okay with that.
The next paragraph begins “Everybody looks so busy now. You have to wonder what they’re doing? It’s a mad dash this way and that but to what ends you keep asking yourself.” It’s an issue of density really.
One of the things that I find I miss the most returning from overseas or the road is the traveler’s openness. You are constantly surrounded by folks that have their guard down and it is intentionally that way. They’re usually people who have shoved their whole life in a backpack, broken out of the day-to-day with a thirst for the new and different.
When you return you find people in the midst of a routine. I’m as guilty as the next person. We all have our little bubbles. We exist in our day-to-day lives in our own homes and our own countries in a very different way than we exist outside of them. When you’re on the road there is a comradery that is almost instantaneous. You can sit next to a person on a bus ride and wind up living together for a week and maintaining a lifelong friendship – it happens often. When was that last time you built an instant friendship with someone like that in the city where you live? It doesn’t happen so often.
So I ask where are the travelers? I might just as well be the one walking down the street in the middle of my routine while somebody else is asking the same question. What I’m pointing out is that the chances of us connecting are diminished by circumstance. And I’m not any less guilty than the next person.
Are we all travelers? No, probably not. Am I saying that the travelers are in some way better than the rest? I don’t intent to. I’m just pointing out that in returning from travel it is the travelers that you miss sometimes more so than the places. You miss the comradery of like minded individuals. You miss the openness of experience.
“I believe this world is a place where one should pursue their dreams, whatever they are and so long as they don’t impede others in doing the same.” My dream is different than every other dream on this planet. In the grand scheme none is more important than the other. One of the dilemmas of traveling, for me, is the sudden jolt out of a concentration of people who share similar dreams.
Thank you for adding to the conversation.
That’s one of the reasons why I would never go on a round the world trip if I had to return back home one year later and then try to awkwardly fit into my old life. My solution to this dilemma has been to live an expat life, moving from one country to the next every few years, and it’s been working wonders for me.