I do not like traveling. Not a bit. I like the familiarity of my surroundings. I like the predictability of a routine. I take a lot of comfort in my place, in my people, and in the ease of being in a ‘known’ space. I wake up, get ready, work, have dinner, wrap up, and sleep. Every single day. There are slight variations in there, but, this is what I do. The weekends seem daunting because there is not a lot of structure in them – unless I plan ahead. I never look forward to them. The tedium of thinking ahead, planning, and then eventually executing it on that day seems onerous, and sometimes, very frustrating.
I know people who love traveling. They look forward to it, make time for it, and like to ‘explore’ new places, new food, new people, and culture. My husband is one of them. He will wake up in the wee hours of the morning, get ready, drag the family out of bed, pestering everyone to get ready, and then drive us to wherever we seemed to be going. I loathe this part, the preparation, the waking up early, the getting into a car to drive to someplace unknown. It’s worse when I am flying. I do not look forward to them. You see its way out of my ‘comfort zone’. I had things to do- books to read, cakes to bake, and taking long quiet walks, and now I must be in a car for 4-5 hours or even longer depending on where we are going. Not doing anything, just watching the world pass by.
But something shifts when I am in the car, watching the world move by through my window. I live in California, a place where you have mountains, oceans, valleys, and forests with tall redwood trees all within a couple of hour’s drive. It’s a beautiful state. Sceneries change. Weather changes. People change. You feel new things. You relive old memories. You feel happy, ecstatic, nostalgic, and bittersweet all at different points on the same trip. Sometimes the beauty of the world will just blow you away. It gets so unbearable, that you must pause, get out, and appreciate it. And if you can’t contain it, let the tears flow.
I remember watching a documentary – Arctic Daughter: A lifetime of Wilderness. It’s available on Amazon Prime if you want to watch it. It’s the story of a woman, whose mom instilled a love of the wilderness in her. So, at a very young age – early 20s if I remember correctly, she embarks on a journey to spend a winter in the deeps of Alaska. The story is about the hardships she faces, the uncertainties that keep her awake and achieving her dream of building a cabin and living in Alaska for a year. I remember thinking – why would anyone do such a thing? Why would anyone want to choose hardships against all the material comforts? And it’s not just incremental pain or hardship, its monumental – giving up everything for your dream, basically putting your life on the line. With the cold, the frostbites, the treacherous snow, and the dilapidated cabin, there was a higher-than-normal probability of a tragic end. But then why does someone climb mountains, or dive into the deepest of oceans?
But, then Jeanie, the protagonist says something profound, or at least this is how I understood it – her life back in Arizona was mundane, and she was on an adventure with someone she loved deeply. She was young, strong, and naive, and with all of it, there was this optimism and hope to be at a place where she felt she belonged. And, it could have been a one-off affair, but no, she does it again, and again, and again, with her husband and her little boy. She was happy until she lost her son, and the cold mountain gave her a sense of warmth, and protected her in a way, that no one in the civilization could. She still lives there, in austerity, in peace, in tune with her own self and with the world around her.
I don’t complain anymore. I have accepted it. Don’t get me wrong – I still dread the unknown, the discomfort, and the uncertainties. But then life is not always easy, it’s unknown, it’s unknowable, and it’s full of uncertainties. But as Anthony Bourdain said – “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you. it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
Where are you going today?