And off I go! Every once in a while, when the excitement and anticipation wears thin, I find myself doubting why I travel. Why am I doing this? My mind, always so keen to strike at any sign of anxiety, gives me a list:
I’m scared, I’m selfish, I’m a pretender.
And sometimes, in the darkness of doubt, I believe that cruel part of myself and I spiral into a barrage of questioning, pondering and writing to pull myself back out of these unhelpful depths.
Eventually, I always come to the same conclusion to calm myself and to keep me on the path onward: I travel to be uncomfortable. I haven’t always done this – I used to travel to tromp, to see, to live. That kind of travelling that I saw in movies, read about in books, dreamt about in my childhood. But as I continued my dreams of travelling far and wide, I’d come to find another side, a less comfortable side, a side that made me wonder if I was doing it right. This kind of travel was stressful, uncomfortable and rather different. I was constantly confronted with difference and was kept consistently on my toes as I tried to navigate my way through another’s world. And at the end of it all, I loved it. I was learning, I was seeing the world from another perspective and through another’s eyes – if only for a conversation, a shared smile, a confused faux-sign-languaged exchange. And not only am I learning, but I am teaching too. I am taking and giving in equal measure, helping to close the gap of understanding in our world one fumbling moment at a time.
That, I constantly remind myself, is why I travel. I travel to keep myself far away from complacency, I travel to learn, I travel to teach, I travel to find comfort in the uncomfortable, I travel to find beauty in the grotesque – in myself, in others, in our shared world.
I’m off – travelling in the direction of my fear and to find the comfort in that fear.