Travel is this amazing thing that we have access to like never before. With flights under 100 euros to neighboring countries within Europe, it’s a wonder that I’m not off exploring some new and undiscovered land every weekend. Which, to be honest, is kind of one of my plans. Because travel is this incredible thing that allows you to discover parts of the world where people do things entirely differently than you are used to. Where words are spoken that you have never heard before. It’s a chance to hear new sounds, taste new things. But on the flip-side, it’s transient, unstable, and the perfect remedy to an uncertain millennial. It’s the highest form of modern escapism.
My best friend Artur has a friend he met during his first year with his new company. While I have never met the girl myself, I have heard plenty about her. She is a 29 year old German woman who divides her time between working as an Agile coach in the corporate world and teaching yoga and disappearing off on retreats where you don’t speak a lick of language for a week and has recently left it all behind to travel the world for the year. And while being able to drop everything and go is both free, brave, and admirable (and something that has been on my mind for a few years now), doing so with unfinished business is not always a sign of someone who has been able to do away with the worldly possessions that seem to tie us down to a rock in these modern times, nor the sign of someone who has got all their spiritual and emotional shit sorted.
Now there really is something to be said for transience. There is some kind of magic in not being chained to objects. And sometimes I think that homes can be prisons. That possessions can drown us and stymie our development as human beings. That the everyday routine of waking up, getting up, cleaning up, and eking out some sort of professional existence is some modern form of slavery keeping us from realizing our larger potential – our larger potential as a human being but also our larger potential as individuals with individual needs, wants, and things to discover larger than what we do 9-5.
But as hard as it is to kiss your comfy flat goodbye, reduce your possessions to what you can fit in a car or carry on your back, isn’t your baggage always lighter when your refuse to bring your problems with you?
I remember when I was little and used to pack this small pink suitcase with carosel horses painted on the front with every intention of running away. I made it as far as the treehouse in the back yard, with a suitcase full of entirely non-essential items for making it in that big bad world all alone – like my favorite stuffed animal (although to be fair, for a 6 year old, Squeaky bunny was kind of a big deal) and a box of snowcaps (also, kind of a big deal) – and when my parents came out back to see what all the commotion was about, I informed them, quite matter-of-factly and with impressive resolve that I was “running away.” Clearly, I wasn’t all that successful, but the intention was there.
I’m pretty sure every kid at some point in their childhood says “Fuck this” and thinks of running away. I mean, in all honestly, it’s kind of a childhood rite of passage. This need to physically escape when you don’t know what else to do is engrained in all of us. Why fight when you can flee? Which kind of makes me think that eternal travel is sort of the big girl grown-up way of doing pretty much the exact same thing.
I won’t lie. When I find myself in a situation I am less than pleased about, the first thought when I wake up is, “damn, I should just really pack up and go.” But then I remember I have two cats that depend on me and a renting company that would be less than chuffed if I just stopped paying rent all together. In fact, I kind of entertained the idea two weeks ago after waking up in someone else’s bed wondering if my life is what I want it to be. I mean, I’ve never been to Hawaii and I’ve heard that it’s supposed to absolutely lovely this time of year.
So what’s the big deal with running away anyway? If it works for you, is it really all that bad? Aren’t we all allowed to throw in the towel every now and then? Give life the middle finger and set fire to it all? And can’t travel help us reach some form of inner enlightenment that’s harder to discover under all the muck of our daily responsibilities?
I don’t suggest running away from it all and refusing to face your problems head-on. Cos if you do you might escape the distance but when you eventually do have to come back home, you’ll most likely be right where you were when you laid waste to it all in one blazing glory of “fuck this.” But temporarily putting things aside is different than giving up all together. And I’m a Cancer anyway, so it’s my natural inclination to permanently domesticate myself one of these damned days.
So maybe it’s time to pack those bags and go. Face this big bad world all by my big bad self. But only for a little while. Cos at the end of day, like David Byrne says, “Home is where I want to be.”
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