Thinking through travel
I enjoy travel because it’s an addition of a dimension to my day-to-day — an exposure to different angles of sunlight, different shades of the earth, different smells of the breeze, different textures of hands, different sets of eyes, different narratives and stories, all so different but similar to mine. It’s an exploration of the deep connections between me and the different parts of the rock hurtling through space where I and the 100million short of 8billion people are neighbors in.
It’s an aching fascination of what “a day in the life” of a stranger I gaze at through your moving frame and at the same time, a strong longing for the comfortable life I have left at home. What’s their favorite food? What do they like to do after school? What did their childhood look like if they were born here? What if they moved here? Are they married? Do they have children? If they do, do they have a favorite one? What do they think about when they walk? What do they think about just before they fall asleep? Who have they lost? Do they think about how pretty the night sky looks? What secrets have they sworn to carry to the ground? Do they enjoy dancing? Do they enjoy their own company? What stories were they told as kids about how they came to be? What pains have they lived through? Have they worked through them? What experiences do they look back on and smile at? What if they don’t have any? What’s that like for them? Who is their favorite cousin?
Sometimes I am afforded the privilege of getting to know these strangers — even for a few minutes, hours, or days and we learn that they aren’t very different from each other — but mere differences in a series of consequences.
I also bask in the reflections induced by landscapes as I traverse through. “A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature,” so said Henry David Thoreau about Walden pond. And just like the pond, gazing into the savannah, mountains, skyscrapers, plains, small villages, big cities, seemingly off-the-grid homes, has a similar quality of reflection.
Through travel, we transcend the self-absorption that is sometimes crippling. What’s important is remembering these feelings even when we get back to our day-to-day and nurture a space for wonder and connections.
I’m grateful that I was able to experience this at a time I needed it and continue to. It is only now that I can process these collections of feelings and reflections, but it was indeed transcendent.
I do wonder what other kinds of understandings travel might open to me.