I had the most peculiar experience today of coming across a new travel blog and having the distinct feeling of wishing I was this person. Not in an envious sense, but because she has learned something that sits so very close yet a thousand miles away from so many lives. She is living her life, cast to the four corners of the earth and the whims of the world – a gentle, eloquent testament in defiance of life being complex, of strings being attached. Defiance of a world filled with if only, filled with maybe I will one day. Filled with attachment to the familiar and security which strangles us from being a part of such a large and changing story – if we only had the courage to step out and start walking.
Giving up everything to travel seems so impossible by virtue of its silliness. Smart people don’t simply jump out and behave so recklessly. Don’t leave a life behind to try and find themselves, to embrace what appears to be such chaos. We don’t do it because in so many lives, there is a distance we have created between ourselves and the unfamiliar. It is a place we don’t go, because it may not be safe, because we relinquish security to explore there, because we could lose so much in our adventuring.
Every first kiss in the world, every lost love, every exploration of a new surrounding, physical or intellectual, has shown us that there is more to the creatures that we are than what simply brings us material gain and status.
But despite the rationalising. Despite the worrying about pension plans, savings, mortgages and god knows what else, that is a place we need to go. It might not be backpacking around the world, or devoting your life to some noble cause, but for everyone, there is that place that calls to you to go to it. When all rational opinion judges it frivolous, valueless, non optimal, you just cannot stop looking, stop wondering. It is a place you need to go one day. Or you will spend your whole life looking across and wondering. Regretting what might have been.
As we grow up we are told that there are good reasons for this division. Because we will be judged badly if we are perceived to be erratic, impulsive. Because it is a lost cause, promising only later hardships and lost security. Because it makes no sense to chase those dreams, humour the heart instead of listening to the pragmatic worries of your mind. And there is the thread by which that wall must unravel. To presume that life is rational, that what is intellectually, analytically best and what is best are the same thing. Every first kiss in the world, every lost love, every exploration of a new surrounding, physical or intellectual, has shown us that there is more to the creatures that we are than what simply brings us material gain and status. There is a happiness that needs to be nurtured – an emotional wellbeing that gives life a sense of quality that no amount of security will ever provide. It’s like that because a life spent simply trying to gain as many days as you can is no life at all.
What roots you to the spot is your insistence that you can only – should only – do the things which are rational. Which make material sense. Instead, think of doing the things that make you so excited you can’t sleep that night. The things that bring beauty and meaning to your life. Not because they are rational and sensible, but because – and only because – they are beautiful.
Realise that such a life will never make rational sense. It will never be clever or safe or acceptable to the settled, staid world. But realise also, that it exists outside of that universe and can never be judged by those standards. You are not running a race in life to be the most reasonable. You are finding your own path, a path that nobody but you has ever taken and nobody ever will again. It’s rightness or wrongness should not be its security, but that sense deep inside that you are growing, that you would rather be nowhere else. That you are satisfied.
When last did you dare?