Travel Near, Travel Far, Well…. Travel Wherever You Are
This little rhyme rings in my head as I close my eyes, only to visualize the picture of a map; highly decorated and scattered with pins marking places of consequence… literary pilgrimages I’ve always dreamed of, religious pilgrimages, places of people, places I’ve been, places I love, places I dream of being, of living, of seeing, feeling, touching, walking, eating. This map rests in the back of my mind, ever so prevalent, and oh so daunting. It is a challenge, see, a challenge to stir something in me, to keep me from forgetting. A challenge so that every time I close my eyes I am reminded of where I want to be, where I should be. It forces me to be reminded so that with every choice I make I take one step closer to each pin, one step closer to further discovering the world.
To me, to travel is so much more than a plane to a new place, than guided tours and famous sites. To me, to travel is to fall in love, to be in awe and wonder of the hand at work behind every detail. To travel is to be deliberate in your pursuit to understand, to be intentional with your mission to explore and experience life in its raw form. Because life in the raw is a beautiful and true site that will remind you to believe in things again, to trust in things again, to foolishly dare to be innocent and to accept that you know nothing and want to learn everything. But only the truest forms of travel can bring this out of you.
I believe it foolish to travel and only see the walls painted for you, the walls built around a city, that catch your eye and take you in, that convince you that this is their home, that this is Greece, this is Italy, this is Mexico, this is it- this is our country, so come, let me guide you and show you all that there is to see… No ma’m, I say to that. No. I would much rather take the key from my neck and find the hidden door on the painted walls with a matching lock. I would much rather see what is behind the wall, where the people live and the food is in their kitchens not a restaurant and the famous sites rest at the makeshift soccer fields where the kids play or the local market with the freshly harvested produce. This is where I would much rather be. This is where the culture lies. This is what travel was meant for, to allow you to discover the heart that lies in a culture rather than just see their monuments. Yes, the painted walls are beautiful, I will not deny it, but they are also a trap, one that I have fallen for, even one that I have seen coming time and time again but did not have the courage to seek out the hidden door for fear of being caught. But I must tell you, oh the power of courage and the things it will allow you to do, to see…. is so worth the risk of being caught. And say you are caught? then simply ask to be taken back to your captors house behind the wall where without a doubt you must suspect his Mama is in the kitchen cooking up something wonderful.
Courage is something that can lead you to understanding, whether that is following monks to their den to learn how they pray or asking a local artisan how she makes her beads. Courage is the thing that can charge you with the unrelenting desire to learn and seek to understand. And with courage comes humility, for to stand up and be courageous, that is to say not fearless, you must also have humility so that you can understand that in order to experience a culture you must set aside your own, refraining from imposing your culture in order to take in another. Although this feat is large and daunting, it is not impossible, and the result? Well, it holds the endless possibilities of new friendships and new outlooks, new perspectives. One thing that I know for sure is that travel is full of risks, and fear does not disappear but rather is overpowered by your desire to see the world for what it is.
I hope you can close your eyes and place pins on maps, I hope you find you neck buried by strings of keys. I hope you have courage to seek hidden doors and laugh at painted walls. I hope you run away from monuments and run towards a culture that is worthy and far too often bypassed. I hope you can travel far, near, wide, often, or wherever you are and that it makes you fall in love. But one thing I must say is that if you choose to be a traveller, then travel deliberately, and with the intention of encountering something wonderful and raw and true.