January 20, 2017 / 6 Comments
It’s a question we’ve gotten often, either in regard to why we’re going to a specific place or why we travel as much as we can, in general. It’s a question I don’t understand, from a mindset that I do. “Why?”
For us, travel is less of a decision and much more of a compulsion. The oddness of travel is that the more you do so, the more you want to do it. The more you travel, the more you feel connected through being absolutely unplugged. It’s dichotomous. The more you travel, the more adventurous and comfortable with going off the beaten path you become. It begins to transform your wants. It builds on itself. You start with one place, one trip, then you want to travel the world.
We understand the mindset of the unknown, where a desire to travel isn’t present because one hasn’t done it before. However, the question of “why?” now corresponds to “why breathe?” or “why eat food?” to us. It’s as though someone is asking to get rhetorical about something very commonsensical to us. It’s understandable.
“Why travel?” I’ll explain it like this. Before you travel, you may have the illusion that you are who you are, complete, wholly, and fully defined in the boundaries where you live with the people you know. When you travel, you realize that the real you, who you are meant to be and the best version of yourself, is scattered across the world in a million pieces waiting to be discovered. As you pick up the pieces, as you venture, you add these pieces back to your nature and become whole again. It’s as though, at birth, the world says “your challenge is to find the rest of yourself.” Every place and every person holds a piece.
We get the “why?” question often because of the seeming scariness of the world, but believe us: it isn’t that terrifying to travel. The vast majority of the world, even in places you think would be sketchy or frightening, really isn’t. Most people want what you want – happiness and peace. They’ll offer that to you if that’s what you’re looking for, so long as you offer it in return. Give memories, get memories. Give love, get love. Give kind-heartedness, get kind-heartedness. It’s really a simple philosophy.
So, the question of “why?” is one we understand, but one we don’t really understand. Why travel the world? It’s as though someone is describing something to us that we’ve never seen before. I can picture it, I can even come pretty close to exacting in my mind what it really looks like, but I haven’t been there.
It’s important, however, to understand that this is a real question to people who have either never realized the desire to travel, or have had fear override that desire. If you have the desire but lack the funds, maybe you don’t know that there are inexpensive ways to travel? Maybe fear and the assumption that it’ll never be for you has kept you thinking that travel is for rich or well-to-do people? I can assure you it isn’t.
Travel is a priority. Some people go to the doctor for regular check-ups, and fear the worst if they don’t. I haven’t seen the inside of a doctor’s office in nearly a decade, but I feel the same about travel. I can’t not. Traveling is part of what helps me avoid the doctor, in fact.
I know that there’s more of me to meet, and more of you. I know there’s a great, big world, so big that I find it hard to believe I was destined to experience only a minute fraction of it. Have you ever felt that way? If so, then maybe you’re closer than you think.
People say we fear the unknown, but I actually feel like we fear our desire of the unknown. I think we, as a species, are obsessed with the unknown but feel it taboo to admit it. There’s a reason why the Travel Channel rakes in cash and food trucks with bizarre, international combinations have lines wrapping around the block. We all want a taste of the unfamiliar, just to see what it’s like to feel like we can experience something out of the ordinary, so we can experience something outside of ourselves. Why do people pony up cash for lottery tickets by the billions? Is it the money, or what the money represents – total freedom, total access to do “whatever the hell I want”.
In other words, to break free of the constraints of normalcy.
Why? Are we engineered that way? Inside of our prescribed, civil lives are we actually rebels looking for a way, any way, to break free of tradition and consistency? I think we are.
Recently, when discussing with someone that we were going to Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, we were asked “why do you want to go there?” This wasn’t said quizzically. It was said with a level of bewilderment, almost to the point of being angered by confusion. “Why do you want to go there?” Sure, I get the misconception that all of Mexico is riddled with gang activity, and much of it is, but have you ever seen Chichen Itza? Have you ever seen Tulum? Do you know what happened there? What can we learn about us there? What can we learn about ourselves? Sorry, I’ll climb over broken glass to get to a place like that. We love traveling the world because of the overwhelming impulse to see more, to be more and to feel more.
“Why?” is less of a function of understanding than it is a judgment, unfortunately. “Why?” is often a question stemming from a cold-war era philosophy, stuck in rhetoric, that assumes if you’re in any way worldly that you can’t possibly love where you live. That you’re a dissenter. It’s a response you often get from the overly-patriotic who wonder “why would you ever go anywhere other than America?” Quite simply, I’m a citizen of the U.S. by paper. By a decision that was made, long before my chunky fanny came corkscrewing out, that lines would be draw “here” and “here” and we’ll name it “this”. That’s what a country is. That’s what nationality is.
No, I’m first-most a citizen of the world. I have no lines I won’t cross. Everyone is my countryman.
“Why?” travel? It’s like asking “why live?” I don’t know really, because I wake up and find myself alive? Because I wake up and find myself breathing? Travel feels nature. It is natural. It’s more than natural – it’s nature itself. It’s my nature. It’s your nature. We’re seekers. We’re explorers.
We’re the species of Vikings and Columbus, of Vespucci and Magellan. We’ve traveled to space! We all want that. We all are that – misfit explorers making the best of it on a spinning marble that could fly off into outer-space like some interstellar frisbee at any point.
“Why?” is a function of discovery, in of itself. Sometimes “why” really means “why”. As in “I want to know”. Tell me why this means so much to you. Tell me why it should mean so much to me. The love of travel is infectious, which is why we all, at the very least, question it. Tell someone about the best vacation you’ve ever been on, and I promise your passion will come across, showing absolutely and definitely who you are at your innermost core, and they will respond with admiration. Travel is good for you, and has innumerable benefits. It creates a new, purposeful you that comes across vividly. They will respond with love. Furthermore, they’ll want to go, too!
Why are you at your best when you even talk about travel? Why is travel important? Because it is your nature, and the explanation of it is like the explanation of an impossible equation or the listening-to of a great symphony – your passion will seep out of you. It’s detailed. It’s elegant. It’s passionate. It’s truthful. It’s wise and mysterious. It’s you, and it’s everyone who isn’t you.
So, “why” travel? Because, at it’s very nature, it’s all there is to do.