From a wandering perspective…
A common misconception about travellers, those who long for far-off places that some only wish to reach in their dreams, is that they don’t appreciate what they already have. Or that they think they are better than others. Perhaps it seems they forget about the people back home once they venture onwards. That they live in an ‘unreal’ world away from the reality we already know, getting by by money. Yet, this could not be further from the truth. Following a path that shows you so many different aspects of life on Earth, the struggles and the beauties, the pain and the love, the fear and the courage of humans, truly humbles you in a way that nothing else ever will.
Returning home after each excursion gives you a new light with which to look at things. Things don’t appear as they used to. You can see the cracks more easily, the facade behind which everyone hides, the complaints of a privileged world. But you can also see more clearly the unique beauty of people, the struggles we help each other through, the genuine love between beings.
Travellers know and understand that no one person is any better than any other – we are all the same, you and I. We are humans that differ in experiences and quirks. But on the basic level, we are one and the same. Anyone who attempts to intimidate another by boasting about their greatness, does not understand that that very greatness resides in every single one of us. Some are just further away from realizing that and encouragement never goes amiss. It is not about competition, it is not about who did what where, who did it better, how much, etc. It is about making and sharing meaningful connections. Altering perceptions. What did it mean to you? Let someone see it through your eyes, then take a look through theirs.
As for forgetting people who are back home, that would be impossible. For it is these souls that have shaped who you are, had their impact on you and are embedded in your heart forevermore. You have learned lessons from the people you have encountered in your life, yet some of these lessons only become apparent with distance. Reminders of those you hold dear pop up everywhere – in the woman making a meal for her children, a flower on the mountainside, a song in a bar, a story overheard, an intricate design. Many times I’ve been in a place and thought, “if only suchabody were with me in this moment”, nothing would have been more perfect. Instead, I must live with the moment I have and accept that it is beautiful in that way, a memory kept alive and vibrant by the thought of someone I love.
The friendships made through travelling are another thing altogether. It can seem like you know a person’s soul right through to the core after spending merely days with them, whilst you may feel distant from others who, for years, have lived in close proximity back home. This is down to the pure genuinity of those you meet along the way, who tend to be the most open-minded, energetic and insightful beings due to their travelling mindset. The more you surround yourself with such worldly people, the more worldly ways you inherit. A shared passion for travel is always prevalent, alongside the difference of backgrounds, which is always embraced. Everyone has a story and each person you meet has something to teach you. That’s the beauty of it. And it’s the most natural thing in the world once you learn to open up.
Travelling is surprisingly easy – this seems to baffle some people. “You’re so brave!” “How do you do it?” “I wouldn’t know where to begin”. Belief in yourself is all you need to step out of your comfort zone and take up a challenge. These challenges remind you who you are. They highlight your strengths and weakness, spark your intrigue and boost your spirits. They reveal the obstacles you can overcome by following your instincts and intuition, and reveal the ways in which you can shape the world to create your own reality.
That’s not to say there won’t be complications along the way. Language barriers, culture shock, getting lost, talking to strangers, becoming ill, feeling homesick, dealing with touts, being on your guard, travelling long hours, sweating your back off – these are some of the challenges you have to deal with. But with a good mindset, you can overcome any of them. And besides, the benefits outweigh these things by far. You might even find yourself enjoying some of the struggles, especially after realising you survived it all.
Language barriers can be very easily overcome. By immersing yourself in the culture, you give yourself no choice but to communicate with locals using other means. Hand gestures, tonality, smiles, expression and eye contact make conversations flow easily, despite neither person speaking the other’s language. Learning a few simple phrases (i.e. hello/how are you/thank you, etc.) goes a long way and puts an element of respect between you and the native speakers. You are no longer an ignorant tourist expecting people to speak English. Once people see your eagerness to learn, they will be happy to teach you. Practise whenever you can and you’ll be surprising others in no time.
Moments of realisation along the way happen often… that shivery tingle throughout your body, your mind awake and your soul alive. A sunrise over the mountaintops, your feet in the sand, wind kissing your face, the warm embrace of the sun. As Bill Bryson puts it, “I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything”. In the world we choose to live in, this is a daily occurrence and every moment reminds you to be aware of your senses and stay awoken.
Money is not an issue. You can stretch it as far as needs be, whilst travelling without it is easier than you would’ve thought. Hitchhiking/couchsurfing/volunteering at hostels/workaway are several ways of living freely, amongst others. You just have to seek them out. Meanwhile, the generosity of strangers (who may have next to nothing themselves) will overwhelm you constantly.
As travellers, we do not run away from a life we don’t want to lead. We run towards the life we are destined to live. And to all those yet to travel, to all budding travellers – just go. It will be the best thing you ever do. You have the traveller genes embedded within you (our ancestors knew it well). So roam, wander, traverse the earth, get lost, be found, fall in love, collect your stories, share adventures, awaken your senses, grow and let the beauty of mere existence dawn on you forevermore.
~ When you explore the world around you, you discover the world within ~