There is a dangerous element to travel. What if you like where you are so much that the thought of returning to where you come from begins to seem untenable? I have to admit that I have become addicted to sunshine and warm weather. It may be hotter than Hades sometimes, the humidity may be tracking off the charts but, did you look at the weather ‘back home’? It’s mid winter where I came from, dark and gloomy day after day. Today there is a ninety degree differance in temperature between ‘that place’ and here where my heart has come to rest.
Recently we have been discussing the psychological effects of ‘being away so long’. Would shorter periods of absence be easier for us so that the siren song of the tropical heat didn’t lull us into a state of perpetual bliss? I wanted to set my heart and soul free, and did, but now that part of me doesn’t want to go back into the box called ‘home’ where birds don’t fly in the driving snow and it isn’t eighty five degree’s at seven o’clock in the morning making me sweat over my morning coffee. The fact that we remove ourselves not only physically but spiritually from our traditional homelands more often and for longer periods is having a profound effect on us overall. When we travel, we immerse ourselves in the local environment, head to toe, like diving into a deep pool, not expecting to surface. This is the issue, I am experiencing a classic form of dissonance.
It’s not ‘tropo’ I am experiencing. I have not become the new culture I live in so that I do not resemble who I was. I have not taken on a new skin, quite the opposite. As a foreigner in an antipodal culture we realize just how different we are. Being away for extended stretches has led me to the luxurious gateway of self evaluation and subjective analysis of my own culture that would not be possible if you were unable to gain this outsiders perspective . I have developed a preference to this alien existence that has had the effect of sublimating the old, is that a bad thing? I have found that living in a place where I am unbound by the daily noise has led me to greater introspection and the patience to complete whole thoughts without interruption. Is this one of the dangers of traveling away so long? Solitude within a maelstrom, is an interesting state for a busy mind.
I live in a city of some fifteen million souls ebbing and flowing through the streets like the tide. I do not hear them, I do not see them, I am invisible in a sense. Of course I am not, my point is that while we do not understand the language being spoken or read the alphabet soup of advertisements so we are completely free to travel along our own path without interruption unless we choose to stop , order a drink, a meal and otherwise engage. It is a catharsis when the driving force of civilization has no effect on you. That is the key concept. I would imagine that this incredible lightness of being may reflect back on some individuals psyche as being an empty void , perhaps induce a state of loneliness.
We are never completely by ourselves in our lives are we? Conversely, if you’re at all like me, and have had quite enough of western economic life, you may find this liberating. If you want to experiment with this idea, try turning off the TV and radio for a week, read no newspapers and plug your ears when you go out so that the world is little more than a muffled blah blah blah. For stimulation talk to your partner, yourself, read more or begin to write a book . This is what travel does for me, the process of engaging the emptiness allows my mind to grow. The geography and weather are decadent features of the overall fantasy that I have chosen as props to stimulate my thinking. But, and here’s the dangerous part, now I like how I think to such a degree that I feel a nagging frustration creep in whenever thoughts of ”going back’ intrude into my state of restful being.
You’re thinking, “I’ve spent a lifetime developing who I am, why should I change now?” That’s a fair question, let me answer it this way. Is the state of mind induced by travel, ‘change’ by definition or can it be interpreted as ‘growth’. Nothing dictates that you have to change, but life itself dictates that everything must change. That is the true and unassailable nature of the universe. Perhaps there is more ‘you’ waiting to be discovered somewhere in the world. This has been my personal experience, and therein lies the rub. I have grown to appreciate this attitude of flux that has only been made possible by removing myself from the definitions of a singular existence. I seek new experiences and revel in the ones I have recently acquired.
I have come to the conclusion that we live a finite existence. I design my life with the actions I take. This is my interpretation of the cosmic reality. Still, the universe has built in imperfections that shift with constant motion. We live in a primordial state of wonder, no matter what your belief system. I have decided to wander away this latter half of my life, this is my choice. There are always going to be inconsistencies between what you want and what you want to have, there is no perfection. The act of ‘acting out’ can be seen as living dangerously, but by all means do so. Life and living are worth dreaming about, they are also worth fighting for. Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true. Home is a relative term , only you can decide where to leave your heart.