Friday, June 01, 2007

Travel Differently...

Well, once again my fabulous traveling companion (my husband) and I took a trip last weekend. (In case you missed it, we went to Philadelphia, which is only 2 hours from where we currently live, for Jam on the River). Once there, we had the same conversation we have almost every time we go someplace. "Well, now what?"

It's not that we are boring, or that we don't want to be there, but that we tend to travel so "unprepared" that once we are there (or while in transit) we ask each other, "so, what are we going to do there? What's the plan?" Half-way through a very long flight to Tokyo my husband looked at me and said, "what are we going to do in Japan?" We do this a lot. We'll go someplace, like Amsterdam, Paris, Maui, or Tempe, Arizona and just wander around (and get "lost" a lot). It's basically like we think of someplace we'd like to go and then just kind of show up. We do a sort of "authentic intentional wandering," perhaps. It's not often that our trips are about destination over journey. What's the saying, "getting there is half the fun," right?

I actually like this type of random, take it as it comes, go with the flow, no schedule, type of exploring. I would much rather be an explorer, or traveler. (Don't get me wrong, "touristy" things can be fun; like going to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago. I'm a Chicago native and have been up there once--or maybe twice). I just don't want to feel that I have to go someplace or do something or I'd be missing it all. I want to feel like for that present moment I am actually there. Living there. Actually being. Not just seeing a place or culture through a travel book or through holes in a map. I still ask myself, "Did I go to The Louvre because I wanted to or because I felt like I had to. Seeing the Mona Lisa is what you do in Paris, right?!"

This brings me to the whole point of this entry....traveling differently. We are going to Morocco in a few weeks and in trying to prepare myself (which really just means gathering clothing that is appropriate for the climate/culture) I began thinking about how and why I travel. Paulo Coelho has a great list of 9 ways one can "travel different." Once I read it, I realized how he had put into words all the things I was already doing (or am trying to do) and feeling. (Which can be a very affirming feeling). I strongly suggest reading his list.

There is something about traveling and exploring that can really change a person, and I know has changed me. I think the part of it that I am most intrigued by is not the physical act of moving from one place to another across oceans and mountains, but the sort of mental and emotional travel and exploration that can take place during a journey. And yet, these are the same journeys. The fact that no matter where you go and no matter how hard you try, you will not be the same person you were before you took your journey, be it to Marfa, Texas, Valencia, Spain, or Tata, Morocco.

Maybe I am lucky that I am able to do this. Maybe I just need change once in awhile. Maybe I want to have good stories to tell my grandchildren. Maybe I like What-Ifs. Maybe I seek out uncertainty. Maybe books and pictures just don't do it for me. Maybe I just want to live now. Whatever the reason that I go I always feel wonderful for having gone.

We are stardust. Travel lightly, Bekki