Many people see traveling as an expedition across seas and lands, running from the bulls in adventure, a wild and perhaps foolish explosion of self expression, freed from your routine lifestyle. They say,
“You will fall in love,”
and surely they are right. You will fall in love with many people, places, and friends- it is truly incredible just how much love you will come to understand; the love of a stranger inviting you into their home, the love of a stray dog protecting you while you sleep in the street, or the love of a warm body next to you. Many people see traveling as a waste of time and assets, appealing to the insecurities that come with the road. You are not saving money for a retirement plan and anything that does not move you in that direction is useless. And they are half right- you will not save any money, and if anything you’ll lose it. Financially, you will become stagnant. But it’s not useless.
I have been traveling for a full 365 days now; I have not seen my family or friends back home, I have not eaten recognizable foods, and I have not slept in the same bed for more than a few months. My funds slowly diminish, my body is worked to the bone, and everyday you wonder what the future holds for you- a mystery that only god knows. But it is not useless.
While your bank account drains down and your body becomes weak, you look back at everything you said and done, and you realize that you were anything but static- you are no longer you. It has been a year for me, and I have changed in ways that I didn’t consider such as my attitude towards people. My judgements have decreased in number, my stereotypes are destroyed, and my fears are slipping away. My confidence is powerful, my view on life is simple, and my religious attitude towards love and compassion only grows with each kindness and every gift that is bestowed on me by these beautiful souls that cross my path. I feel full of life, happy, and free.
“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson
It is interesting to see all the ways I am different, but perhaps what is more fascinating is how exactly I am the same- when I peer inside myself I can see my insecurities remain, my fears of commitment remain, my sadness and loneliness remain. This seems to be a complete contradiction, but it’s not. I don’t think so, anyway. It seems to me that everyone is a shade of their own qualities. We are both sad and happy, brave and cowardly, good and bad, alone and surrounded. Life makes itself clear to me in this way, and I have learned this from every external experience I acquire along this road.
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
Right now, I am sitting in an office in the middle of the Carpathian mountains, Ukraine. I have been working here at a summer camp for a bit to refund my source of income. Arrived early June, leaving late August. This camp has changed me in a millions ways and I couldn’t be more grateful for its influence. I feel small, I feel humble, and I can see all of my faults and flaws- how weak I am. But this feeling, while we assume may make one upset, in actually affirms me and comforts me.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
It has been a year for me, and yet it feels only yesterday that I got on that plane to Ireland. Time moves fast, but with so much growth it feels much longer. I am not saving money for retirement, I am not buying a house or a car, and I am not preparing for the worst in my health. But I am changing, growing, loving, laughing, smiling, crying, running, walking, sleeping, and waking- I am living. A year of living has shown just how powerful it can be. But nothing I say, and nothing any other travel can say, will ever convince another to accept such a inexpressible journey into themselves. We can only choose for ourselves.
“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.” – Wendell Berry
I could write more about the changes that come, but part of my job here is to dance 20 minutes before each meal with the entire camp staff. So, I’m off to move to my body with 100 kids to songs like “Uptown Funk” or “That Power.” Is it crazy and weird? Yeah, but I wouldn’t trade this experience, and the entirety of this year, for any amount of money, home, job, or whatever other trap keeps us from being the best versions of ourselves.
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