Do I Travel to Escape?
—I had to come home, he said.
—How long were you gone? I asked.
—6 months of constant travel. Long enough to get to the point where anywhere was okay. Do you know what I mean? he asked staring me in the eye.
I did know what he meant. I do know what he means. Travelers escape through their familiar atmosphere to become satellites, orbits in a night sky — observing and participating from a distance.
—It’s scary stuff, he said and then retracted from the conversation to curl up into a memory. In this brief pause, an argument of defense welled up from my cherished memories on the road.
But the conversation changed as quickly as it began and the moment was gone. I thought about what he said and how he challenged not only my sentiments about travel but also the trajectory of my life.
Am I close to a dangerous detachment? Is this travel as a lifestyle, this perpetual suspension an escape, excuse, or cop out? Yes/No.
It is just as easy to travel and hide behind the high of new experiences as it is to hide behind the habits of home. However, ‘home’ does not allow for a particular type of hubris which suggests that we become something more by simply hurdling our bodies through space and time.
The truth of the matter is that it matters very little where I am if who I am is not more important. In other words, just when I think changing is as easy as catching another flight and making new friends, I am haunted by what I thought I left behind. But when I don’t use travel to get away from someone or something, a wonderful thing happens.
Travel demands that I cultivate the ability to be comfortable in my own skin above the ability to be comfortable in my familiar surroundings. And being comfortable in my own skin means becoming intimately familiar with my flaws and my fears… as well as my limitless capacity.
I will never be lost, detached, and a fugitive in my own life if travel is about looking, listening, and finding rather than escaping, forgetting, and arriving. There may come a time when this process lends itself to a different mode (less travel and a different journey in one location). For now, travel is still my greatest teacher.