From the earliest I can remember, I have had an uninhabitable urge to go west. And I will admit it took some balls for the desire to eventualize. For some time now, I have left my ‘quit the job to travel the world’ romcom unplayed because it felt wrong to talk about something so individualized, deep-seated. Truth be told, it was more of a short trailer and the world didn’t include the part that was my urge’s beating heart: America. But now it does. And I don’t feel as fraud talking about it.
Like all things nostalgia, I am hard-pressed to talk about the exoticism of the whole experience that was my travels across the last few years. The fundamental psyche of human desire is that the thing you most desire can only be found on the other side of where you are.
It took going through this falsified sense to belief to get to the difficult truth: the urge remains.
Because the urge was not to travel west. The urge was to become someone different. Going westward was supposed to be catalytic to becoming someone more. Someone with a hip, refined, worldly understanding of, well, everything.
From the Odyssey to Eat Prey Love, travel has remained a cultural symbolism for change, a destination to find yourself. Sure, there are crumbs who invalidate the idea by writing entire treatises on traveling around their own bed and how that can be as life-changing. But the birdbrained argument against the idea of travelling afar because you have a million things to see in your own land is as naive as saying we should all jump off a tall building that’s nearest to us because we are all going to die anyway.
Familiarity has pushed us into the abyss of our unconsciousness. We watch without having seen, do without having been, and leave without having arrived. The eyes of the traveler are eyes that see. He who does not see is no different from him who cannot.
Travel transcends your basic senses and helps you find a part of your sensibility that is far more fundamental: Wonder. Wonder is the highest state of curiosity. Because you aren’t looking for answers.
With every place I went, I felt like a child coming into the world. There was always a stranger to replace my helplessness with his humanity.
What can I tell you about that which can only be seen? And must it take crossing oceans and wiping out a part of your savings to open your eyes to this?
I can’t. I can only tell you there’s a price you must pay for your conditioning. Travel offers moments of waking up, however fleeting, however alone. It’s what makes the whole of your life greater than the sum of your life’s parts.
Like everything else, you can turn travel into an obsession, an escape; shut your eyes, tighter. Or you can walk, as one of the greatest travelers that briefly walked the face of the earth said, into the wild.
There’s a difference between the urge that was and the one that remains, and travel helped me see that:
What was, was for a future. What is, is for the present.