The effects of travel on the traveler, what are they? Are they the same for everyone? Speaking for myself, I remember entering a separate reality where everything was changed for the better, as if I had experienced revelation and redemption through baptism of earth air and fire. From that point I have never occupied the same state of being.
I had shed my skin and become something that I had not been. What I was had burned away and was replaced by an ephemeral floating sheet of absorbent material to be flexed, folded, soaked and shaped by every new impulse. In my case, becoming a traveler saved my life. My first experience outside of what I’d known was from hell to heaven.
I travel because it’s all I know. This is my life and my world. I have in the past described myself as a breath of homeless air across the face of the world. Before you start thinking that I occupy some kind of magical dreamscape, let me assure you that I do not. I live in a world of my own creation.
No one is going to recommend that you drop everything to become a rootless mendicant, especially me. This is a world outside, a cast off world, a world of detachment for those whose lives are feckless to begin with. Travelers are looked upon as seers of the road ahead but are in fact, men and women without a past to return to. Surprisingly, we are many. What does that say about the world we occupy?
Why does traveling have such a profound effect on some people? What is it about the freedom and access that makes certain people begin to mark their bodies with tribal symbols and dress themselves against all fashion? Does the mind expand when subjected to the pressure of cabin altitude above 30,000 ft? Does the travel experience poison the well of an individuals life when their tribal influences are stripped away ?What makes the common accountant suddenly appear in dreadlocks after a two week holiday in Jamaica? Has this happened to you?
The experience of immersing yourself in an alien culture for an extended period of time creates challenges for the traveler. The longer you’re away, the more difficult it is to relate to your own culture when you return, if at all. I have found that 6 months is the usual period of time it takes to metamorphose into the hybrid creature no one, including yourself, would recognize from afar.
This reminds me of the old adage ‘be careful what you wish for because you just might get it’. I can tell you from personal experience that once certain barriers are breached, there is a point where you’re old life becomes an alien landscape and going back is not an option.