There is much envy directed at the perpetual traveler. I get messages from people all the time wishing they could live like me, moving “freely” across the globe. But sometimes, the highlight of your day is finding a roll of toilet paper where the perforation on the two plies line up exactly, instead of being offset so when you try to tear it with one hand while you hold the strings of your temple pants in the other so they don’t drag along the dirt floor of the hole in the ground you are pissing into, it rips vertically in thin strands like a cheap packing tape you pick at for ages just to find the proper edge again.
Everyone who travels wants something, even if that wanting is to give. I do it for that, but also because I want, I need, to understand what places are like. It isn’t a vacation. Places aren’t always good, and some places are rarely comfortable. They just are. I will feel what I’m inclined to feel about them from moment to moment, given the world from which I came and the body I inhabit, how my body is different from the bodies around me and how that shapes the perception of the me and the them. But my feelings won’t change the place around me. It’s neutral. It just is. People adapt to any place over time. That’s how we made it this far.
You might look at the pretty pictures from around the world and think you want to go there, to consume the vision with your own senses. Maybe you should. But maybe you also shouldn’t. Just remember: often times, that picture is the crown jewel of a laborious experience. Unless you’re willing to sit in the dirt and eat bugs with people, if that’s what they do, to understand why the thing in the picture means anything to anyone, why not just look at the picture and appreciate it for its aesthetic value? Appreciate your own life and all the comfort you have in its stability as well. So many people would kill for that in this world, and they do. If you would trade it in pursuit of all the unanswered questions in the world, even if it means being attacked by a swarm of dragonflies on a 105 degree train while fluorescent lights beam down at you at midnight, maybe it is time for a change. Nothing ever changes unless the cost of maintaining the status quo outweighs the benefits. But do the potential benefits of the lifestyle you fantasize about outweigh the potential costs?
For me, they did and do. Even as I lie happily in a room the size of a coffin typing this blog post on my phone in hopes the internet will transmit it where it needs to go, I’m content with this wild life I’ve chosen. You don’t have to decide right now what you want to do. In fact, you don’t have to worry at all. Just be. If you do one thing a day to move your life along in a positive direction, that is enough.
While I’m out here though, eating bugs and eliminating 10 liters of water a day through my skin, and finding paradise and writing a novel sometimes in between, I hope you’ll think about how to really support the people in pursuit of the unanswered questions in the world, so they can share with you what they know. I’ve had a lot of support along my journeys, and I’ve got a lot of stories to tell as a result. So, ya know, show your favorite castaway you care or something from time to time, virtually or even by paying them a visit.