Why keep travelling?
I spent some time thinking the other day about the travellers among us who take to the road and just keep on going. Off they go with their very few personal essentials rolled carefully into their trusted bag. Swapping material wealth for spiritual health, they keep going, never looking back.
When I mentioned to friends that I was going travelling alone for a week, they were a little surprised and asked whether I was mad (not quite); whether I was afraid to go alone (nope), or would I need someone to talk to (yes – and did!). It wasn’t that I hadn’t travelled before, I have been to many countries across four different continents, but I’d never travelled before completely by myself. Off I went with a Lonely Planet Pathfinder badge I’d recently acquired, a few essentials in my battered old case with wheels. I took a camera with me. And a pen and notebook because writing, like travelling is a journey on which you can progress.
The trip provided opportunities to see new places, people and sceneries to die for, as well as to share treasured memories and stories that I wouldn’t ordinarily have been able to experience had I stayed home with the same mind-set, repeating daily activities that can all-too-often halt progress at whatever it is one hopes to achieve.
I had a brilliant time! I met many people and experienced much. I was never lonely; and I was only as alone as I wanted to be. As well as being fun and an adventure, and sometimes a test, I found that this trip pushed me out of my comfort zone; offered opportunities to understand and accept what I didn’t yet know about: I tried out different things and reassessed what I thought about them. And this brings about a change in the self.
When travelling our senses become heightened, each day unfolds like magic providing us with new vistas and horizons and scope for renewal and change. We learn about different ways of being through not only observing but also by communicating with others across language barriers, borders and cultures. We eat foods which we haven’t heard of, or tasted with people we’ve never met. Maybe we try out new activities we’ve never done before. We test the unfamiliar. At best, we stand in different shoes; see from a different perspective. And we have a jolly good time, most of the time, thank you very much.
We tread this path in a given physical location in time and space, heading for new and deeper experiences, but the journey we make isn’t only the physical travelling we do any more than the act of writing alone is a story.
Travelling takes us to new physical places, people and experiences, as writing words is the vehicle by which to bring the story to the reader. As we travel, our assumptions can change: we become renewed by broadening understanding, knowledge and creativity. We leave behind narrow-minded perceptions and negativities that hold us in our daily lives. The same goes for a well written story: it has a capacity to send the reader on a journey of the mind, escaping, often, the hum-drum of life and it does so in an amusing, entertaining and thought provoking way.
And I wonder if, as well as the thrill of seeing new places, it is also this thirst for experience, renewal and change that drives us on. Not so much the travelling, the miles covered, the sceneries and experiences but the actual change of heart or mind within oneself.
I think this thirsting after change of some kind could be a reason why some travellers become nomadic and never look back. And whether we do come home, or make the road our home, we do so changed with stories to treasure and tell.
What do you think? If you have a moment, please share the reasons why you decide to go to a place or keep on travelling!