I never feel more alive than when I travel.
I mean wandering down foreign streets and haggling over prices in a language I don’t know, but more than that I mean simply sitting in my seat, watching scenes I’ve never seen, watching the world go by out the window.
This world is bound to be even more interesting than my hour-long morning bus rides as a kid, following the same bumpy, gravel road on the way to school and me, gazing out the window making up games as I flew over the open prairie.
What if I was running beside the bus and could only step on grass and had to jump over everything else! What if those cats I see on that porch actually run the house! What if an ant was floating on a twig in that ditch! Where would it end up?
Now my games are different, soaking up new lands either across the world or across the lake—adventuring in places I’ve never been. When I move I let the sights enter into my field of vision and roll back over me, taking me into this unfolding vista.
I let my breath be my only thought as my Dickinson-esque train laps up miles, holding me in an ever-expanding embrace, my body fills with air, oxygen passing into depleted veins and space created in my lungs to feel into.
I feel full and whole, a deep-seated weight of security and trust even if I have no idea where I’m going.
Exhaling out remains of molecules I no longer need, that same sense of fullness is maintained. My breath is my companion on this journey of inexplicable comfort through movement.
Over the holidays I was with a couple in their 80’s who have travelled to over 100 countries. Walking around their house was like being in a museum with all the items from their journeys. The Tibetan-style head of the Buddha held my gaze as I sat in a living room. I had moments of upwelling devotion at the sight of pictures from India, Radha dancing around a peacock, and the bronze Ganeshas on the radiator by the door. The way the woman’s face lit up at the mention of someone’s friend of a friend who’d been to Uzbekistan, the next intended destination: even past 80, with memories of endless countries, the urge to travel can never be fully satiated.
What is it that I seek as I wistfully count up my rewards points and type in possible destinations on airline websites?
Oh! I could go to Vancouver and visit friends! Who knows, maybe even stay and work in that bookstore everybody talks about. So many possibilities!
Why is it that I feel the most solid and secure when I’m hurdling over vast stretches of land or air, freshly departed from one place and en route to another?
I may never get complete answers to these questions, and I am deliciously content with that. Truly what I get in those moments is blissful attention to the present.
I’m not where I’ve left from. I’m not where I’m going.
I’m exactly where I am.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Hartwig HKD/Flickr