“In my eyes you’ll see
The way it is to be
Take a look and see
The light still shines in me”
In my eyes – Milk Inc.
It comes on the wind on quiet nights, and when you have finished unpacking your bags from a long trip to a place you never thought you could go. Places in the world that you had never thought your life would take you to. To places in yourself that you never thought you could go, that you never thought existed. It comes from the fact that when the last coconut candy toffee has been eaten and the last bottle of offensive rice whisky has been given away (or worse, drunk), something remains. Travelling leaves a mark on you that you can never quite get rid of, a stain in your heart that, on the evenings when there is nothing else to do and your mind is free to wander, it will drag you back to. Good times, awful times, times when you were so tired you would give anything for the quiet of home and times where you would have given anything you had to stay and keep a moment in time.
The problem, of course, is that the more you travel and the more you see, the more you realise the inadequacy of the little box that is your day to day life – the tiny little speck in a larger and infinitely more complex reality that the sum total of your days on earth amounts to. The people who see the world so differently to you, whose hearts, values and experiences don’t so much make you question your own firm beliefs as they force you to realise and be humbled by the fact that everything you know and everything you could possibly ever understand is only the minutest part of the human experience. To have the opportunity in life to travel and learn from what it affords you is a rare and special present. To return to the world you knew before, where little has changed, is a damnation.
That I want to travel again is beyond question – the rich tapestry of the human condition begs to be explored, rubbed up against and gotten dirty. The hardest part is finding meaning in the downtime in between, that sense of being special, that derives from having to push every day for food, a place to stay and getting to your next home before nightfall. It sounds so nonspecific to say that I feel like I belong ‘out there’, without any real destination to tie to that place, except that it includes dust and heat, hours on dilapidated buses and pigs tied to bikes in the streets of Siem Riep. The truth, however, is that ‘out there’ insofar as that place is the sum total of those experiences, just feels so much more real than the abstracted reality of regular get togethers at the same pub, chasing promotions and wanting a bigger car and nicer house than your peers. Granted there are people out there for whom such experiences are satisfying, deeply so. I just cannot count myself among those numbers anymore.
What I am trying to describe here is not unique to me. Of those who returned from southeast asia, more than one has spoken of pining for that adventure again. It just bugs me how I cannot shake it from my thoughts, and how I keep returning to that state of wanderlust. It bugs me, and sometimes makes functioning in the everyday difficult, but its a particular sort of restlessness that makes me feel blessed for the things I have seen, and excites me at the thought of how much more remains to be explored. And so, on these quiet nights, I welcome it.