Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm About to Die

Apparently imminent death is the only thing that justifies long-term travel. Yesterday, while looking at maps of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, someone asked what I was doing. When I told her about my trip she asked "did you find out you're about to die?"

How can people be so caught up in the mundane tasks of daily life that they can't imagine taking some time out to explore? In fact, most people I've talked to can't even comprehend the idea of exploration. They ask me what there is to explore. Perhaps they've seen the entire world and assume that I have also. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I have seen very little of the world and I believe that the people who can't comprehend my desire to explore will see far less than I will.

It's difficult to explain my motives to these people. They ask where I'm going and I tell them that I'll go wherever the road takes me. Then they ask "why?" I feel like I'm trying to explain the color of the sky to a blind man, and in a sense, that's exactly what I'm doing. To some people the idea of doing something unpredictable and adventuresome is so alien that it doesn't compute. Sort of like Calculus.

When the girl asked if I was about to die, my reply was quick and to the point. "Why would I wait until I am about to die to start living?" She said that she'll travel... one day. Maybe.

I doubt she ever will.

1 comment:

Travis said...

I completely understand your frustration with the aversion to exploration people willingly adopt. I especially see a lot of it in the standard American sensibilities. I remember from a very young age adults warning me to never travel alone, never trust anyone, always have everything planned out. Basically, the world is always out to get you. While sometimes it is smart not to completely make yourself vulnerable to unknown locales and people, such over-generalizations of an infinitely nuanced world is just plain ignorant.

If I was to rigidly adhere to such advice, I might as well not have leave my home, ever. If I were that cautious I would not have walked to 10 bars along the city limits of Amsterdam with a German philosopher, gone on what could be best described as a "spirit quest" with an Inca descendant who makes jewelery while farming llamas in central Argentina, or been a tour guide to a group of Brits and Australians visiting Louisiana.

The best stories are not constructed by accounts of regimented, mundane experiences, and the world is too bizarre not to guard yourself from it.

Have fun on your journey, and always take your own path!