Don't lose your dreams to protect your days

Why We Travel

From the book “Letters to My Son” (Kent Nerburn)

This is the magic of travel. Any travel. You leave your home secure in your own knowledge and identity. But as you travel, the world in all its richness intervenes. You meet people you could not invent, you see scenes you could not imagine. Your own world, which was so large as to consume your whole life, becomes smaller and smaller until it is only one tiny dot in time and space. You return a different person”..

All you need to do is give yourself over to the unknown and open yourself to a world that is totally apart from your own.

“Slowly the memories of the familiar recede from your mind and you find yourself adrift in the experience of the world around you. Your thoughts and concerns change. Your emotions focus on new people and events. The world makes its claim on your heart and mind, and you are free, at least momentarily, from the concerns of your everyday life.2012 2013 341

Many people don’t want to be travelers. They would rather be tourists, flitting over the surface of other people’s lives while never really leaving their own. They try to bring their world with them wherever they go, or try to re-create the world they left. They do not want to risk the security of their own understanding and see how small and limited their experiences really are. They move from hotel to hotel, protected by money and credit cards, and never really meet the world through which they are traveling.

To be a real traveler you must be willing to give yourself over to the moment and take yourself out of the centre of your universe. You must believe totally in the lives of the people and the places where you find yourself, even if it causes you to lose faith in the life you left behind.

You need to share with them, participate with them. Sit at their tables, go to their streets. Struggle with their language. Tell them stories of your life and hear the stories of theirs. Watch how they love each other, how they fight each other. See what they value and what they fear. Feel the spaces they keep in their lives.

Become part of the fabric of their everyday lives and you will get a sense of what it means to live in their world. Give yourself over to them – and you will find that the beauty in their lives and their world will become part of yours.

When you move on, you will have grown. You will realize that the possibilities of life in this world are endless, and that beneath our differences of language and culture we all share the dream of loving and being loved of having a life with more joy than sorrow.2012 2013 386

But travel is not as romantic and exotic as it sounds. The familiar will always call, and your sense of rootlessness will not give you rest. Your emotions will fly crazily in all directions until sometimes you will feel that you have lost your moorings. If you travel alone, the warmth of families and couples will break your heart, and your loneliness will plunge you to depths you did not think possible. And then, there are greater dangers. You may wake up and discover that you have become a runner who uses travel as an escape from the problems and complications of trying to build something with your life. You may find that you were gone one hour or one day or one month too long, and that you no longer belong anywhere or to anyone. You may find that you have been caught by the lure of the road and that you are a slave to dissatisfaction with any life that forces you to stay in one place. These things happen. But how much worse is it to be someone whose dreams have been buried beneath the routines of life and who no longer has an interest in looking beyond the horizon? I believe it is worth taking the risk. How else will you know the feeling of standing on something ancient or hearing the silent roar of empty spaces? How else will you be able to look into the eyes of a man who has no education, never left his village, and does not speak your language, and know that the two of you have something in common? How else will you know, in your heart, that the whole world is precious and that every person and place has something unique to offer? And when you have tragedies or great changes in your life, how else will you truly understand that there are a thousand, a million ways to live, and that your life will go on to something new and different and every bit as worthy as the life you are leaving behind?”-KN

“That is why we need travel. If we don’t offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don’t lift to the horizon; our ears don’t hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days. “- KN

One thought on “Why We Travel

  1. Craig MacInnis

    Wow. Powerful. Reading this as I travel to Atlin, BC. A first step into a new world.
    Thanks for your words.

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