To travel, or not …

I’ve always said I wanted to travel around the world.  Well, careful what you ask for … today I find myself perfectly placed to make that dream trip, with no responsibilities to speak of, and an economy not offering much opportunity cost.   After purchase of an around the world ticket, the cost of a yearlong trip through the interesting, aka developing, parts of the world, would be a whole lot less than life in Menlo Park.

So why am I still here, enduring Caltrain at 1 and 5:30 every morning, when I could be dancing salsa in Cali, sunning on the beach at Koh Phagnan, or training to run with the Kenyans?  Maybe it’s partly inertia, and fear of losing the sense of stability that a steady address provides.  Well, I admit it, those are factors.

But this time, now that I have to face the real possibility of travel, not just fantasize about it, I think there’s more.  What would I want, or expect, from extended travel?  Would I be moving toward something, or retreating from life’s responsibilities, sticking my head in the sand for as long as my finances allowed?

Past travels

Past travels

What are the goals of travel, or indeed of any experience?  Are they … (1) enjoyment in the moment, and (2) learning leading to change?

On the enjoyment front … as long as I can keep in check the part of me that focuses on what the neighbors have, it’s like the t-shirt:  Life is Good.  Sure, travel has greater superficial variety, more cheap thrills, but is that just greater breadth of relatively shallow experience, at the expense of deeper relationships?  (Is this making me sound old?!)

On to change/learning.  I think what shifted the balance for me was a Proust quote I saw on someone’s door years ago.  Something like “The only real voyage consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  Wow.  The guy must have been a closet Buddhist.  I have gained different perspectives from my trips abroad, most recently in Colombia.  But might those perspectives have been available closer to home, if only my eyes were open to see them?

My feeling now is that enjoyment and learning come from fully experiencing the richness of the present moment, which we can do anywhere.  And, equally to the point, we can miss it anywhere, from Cancun to the Costa Brava, when we let our monkey mind dominate.  As I too often do.

Stillness …

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3 Responses to “To travel, or not …”

  1. susan Says:

    Thoughtful post. And yet, I say go.

    “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

  2. Nephew Says:

    What if you just wrote about all of it? What if that was all you did?

  3. knightstango Says:

    I realize y’all are well-meaning, but this is not making my decision any easier!

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