If I had to qualify with words the emotions I have towards the concept of travel, the result would be completely inadequate. Words don’t do it justice. Regardless of the limitations of human language, I’m going to attempt to express what travel means to me, and why it is the quintessential activity in life.
Travel is a science. It’s an experiment in time and material management. Your house doesn’t travel with you. Neither does your job, your wardrobe, your refrigerator, your free time….none of it goes on the road with you. Only the essentials do. Pack only the absolute essential technology in your backpack, lest there not be room for more essential items of another genre. Wake up at a decent time and take full advantage of the day lest you miss out on the wonders and beauty of a particular location while you’re physically there to experience it. Lay out your observations in a neat timeline in your mind. Make hypotheses about what will inspire you, and what can go unexplored. Your itinerary is your procedure, step by step, schedule by schedule, how are you going to explore? Analyze your results and draw conclusions when you’re finally home. Is it worth a second experience?
Travel is an art. No one does it incorrectly. Every eye can focus on the same detail and yet be drawn towards different interpretations. The Mona Lisa is a static object, but some channel fear and seriousness while others invoke joy and laughter. Everyone experiences it differently. Similarly, the calm, cool waves and lofty breezes at that beautiful beach on that one particular harbor invite some to lay and rest, while others view the waters as a calling card to release adrenaline. Jet skiing, parasailing, wake-boarding….all differing conclusions from the same natural artistry. All of it is special. No one is wrong. The context of your journey here lays the groundwork for what you feel when you see a beach even though what we all see is the same.
Travel is cultural. You can’t escape the opposite culture. Your birthplace and area of growing up has left an indelible imprint on you that you can’t help but display. It shines like the morning sun and singles you out like a star piercing the dark night sky. Your from Miami? You’re traveling to Iceland? Now a piece of Miami is roaming around Iceland, and anyone who’s paying attention can notice. But your culture clashes with what’s around you. Other people behave differently because they grew up under separate circumstances. You do the mental gymnastics of acknowledging that you and the people here are vastly different, and yet you feel the connection. A sense of unity. A brotherhood of man that’s not as readily apparent in your own community because your own community takes its own culture for granted while your experience in an entirely different community fully appreciates the depth, breadth and scope of the culture.
Travel is spiritual. It entices all of your senses in ways previously unimaginable. There are new sights. New sounds. New feelings. New tastes. New smells. Everything is brand new because the environment around you has shifted. The electrification of your senses slowly destroys the barriers you have to experiences beyond yourself. Your day to day life is too busy to worry about trivial things like the purpose of life and the Creator of the universe, but while you’re abroad, you’re shocked into remission. You don’t have important things like meetings and arguments. You only have the insignificant: what does it all mean? You allow spirituality to enter your horizons, and you welcome it with open arms. Sometimes it’s the only plausible explanation to the amalgamation of emotions you feel in those moments away from home.
Travel may mean different things to different people, but for those of us who relish the opportunity to get to know this world that we have so little time to explore…
Travel is everything.
-The Wandering Toucan