Packing a suitcase and flying off into the great unknown does remove us from our comfort zone, adding a host of emotions that challenge the status quo. If we stay within the confines of what we know, we are bound by memories comfortable and understood, along with familiar experiences.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, `comfortable’ can feel great, like mom jeans…well, maybe if not great, let’s say `adequate’… our world becoming smaller and our dreams an ice sculpture. But each minute the sculpture melts a little, until finally it is completely gone.
For me, it is important to occasionally dust off the passport. As Flaubert once said, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” It’s just that I need to see what a tiny speck I really am, and expand on it!
Somewhere I read that each of us has a picture, however vague, of what we would like to accomplish before we die – the now famous `bucket list’. How close we come to attaining this goal often becomes the measure for the quality of our lives. If it remains beyond reach, we can grow resentful or resigned. But if at least partly achieved, we experience a sense of happiness and satisfaction.
For the majority of people on this earth, many have nothing and life goals are simple…survive, and leave children who will in turn survive. And if possible, do so with a certain amount of comfort and dignity. Others need a different path…that of the warrior-wanderer. And there is another group living somewhere in between.
While each life path may be commendable, I have noticed how some cast a weary shadow over the latter…while those of that `warrior-wanderer’ ilk may be on the most rewarding journey of all, not being suited to some `conventional’ life at home.
Sometimes it takes a traumatic experience to toss someone into a life of travel, events prompting that person to join the nomad warrior-wanderer class for a piece of time; to explore and imagine new beginnings. If money is used as an excuse not to go, well, I’m thinking there is always a way around that. You will be fine. Are we not educated in life? Are we not resourceful and full of fine ideas how to make a few dollars last longer? Trust me. You will find a way.
Now, if I were to describe my family, I would say they resemble a handful of baby birds with mouths dropped wide open in a world full of aggressive hawks – their expression always one of surprise, complete and utter awe at how far they have come, as struggling immigrants, and what they have achieved.
Growing up, my father never had a bedroom. He slept on a cot in the living room of his parent’s home until his 18th birthday. The first lumpy mattress he suffered was in the army. He brags about his love of that mattress. It was a sort of awakening for him as he experienced different cultures and mores, all becoming a fabric of familiarity. Of course it was wartime, and nothing was pleasant or humanized, but it still transformed his world into a more accepting place that grew.
It is true that sometimes travel doesn’t meet our expectations.
Hearing that my dad spent a month in the city of Casablanca waiting his return to the States after four years of service, I was anxious to ask him about his stay in that city, the setting of the Bogart and Bergman film of the same name. “Well,” he said, “There wasn’t much to the place. Just one street and a couple bars. We could hardly wait to get out of there!” Needless to say, our conversation dented my perception of the 1942 classic. The trouble is, now I have to go see for myself the usual suspects in Rick’s Café, and hear `As Time Goes By’.
In February I’ll be heading to Dubai. I can’t wait. I also can’t count how many negative comments I’ve received when I mention my upcoming trip.
“Isn’t that where ALL Europeans travel?” I hear, as if it reeks of a lack of imagination.
“Why don’t you save some of your money and go back to Vegas?” “Why fly 17-hours to hang out in shopping malls and sand storms?”
Wow…hearing such negativity, it’s funny, but it just encourages me all the more! Not that I like malls…and it’s true, I really do detest shopping.
But you know what? I’m Hell-bent to find something else, another energy that resides there…something that makes us all human. Maybe it will be a sandstorm…but I’m thinking that is the very fun of it. I plan to open my eyes because ANY place I have not been is a playground.
As Tom Waits said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride” …or the ice sculpture surely melts.