Wedged into the middle seat of a transatlantic flight, 15 hours into a 35- hour journey, one recalls a conversation from hours earlier. The magic of the journey, and the buzz of the airport, long faded, has left only an uncomfortable piece of airline property, serially too small, and one’s mind, fatigued by the closeness of strangers, to grapple with all the journey represents. What began as a chance to witness the doings of man in new places with new names, employed by foreign people with foreign features, slowly and deliberately devolved into questions of One’s place in the universe. Lost in the distant fray of a self-imposed, indulgent willful ignorance a rusted, squeaky door argument beats its drums of war. A Voice, the unrelenting burden of those who are forced to seek what lays beneath, disgusted and distraught at the natural inclination all have for the need to drink colorful liqueurs that drive home the point paradise must be near, drifts delicately to the fore. One’s rhythm, swinging gladly between fanciful imaginigs of swashbuckling heroism and sun kissed bodies, is on the verge of taking a decidedly more serious turn. The steady onslaught of consciousness, at first a gentle lapping at the shores of paradise unkown, will in turn transform into a personal realism. A void or vacuum never materializing; rather, a gradual sense of truth bubbles to the surface offering a perspective unencumbered by fanciful over activity. In its place, the Voice, logical and slightly detached, offers a casual observation, points out that a plane flight alone does nothing to change a person; that, in fact, one must choose to change oneself.
In childish defiance, One defends the life choices divined, developed, and executed while standing in line only hours ago. In those moments of pre-transition, where the body remains rooted in place, adding value to an arbitrary hierarchy led by those in the distance, the unstoppable progression of the cue infinitely adding prestige to the traveler, One is forced to consider a larger sense. Once, One thought, that to stop perceiving, to stop thinking is to cease existing, and for one to cease the fundamental aspect of life one must have a good reason, but was left empty handed when trying to provide an adequate response for such a sacrifice. For some fellow revelers, the panic of fitting into a new bathing suit rips their self confidence to shreds, often allowing that person a rare gift of fear motivated change, for others, the excitement of reuniting with relatives whose embrace has long since turned cold on shoulders that crave attention is the reason for turning inwards; for One, the nature of such discourse borders on pedantic moral realities and codes, not out of a deliberately conscious need, but rather an inherent, and bothersome, inclination to ask questions and seek answers.
“True”, the Voice says, “you have every right to choose the time and place to find insight, but you do need to change your ways in a meaningful manner. Indifferent, hasty acceptance of superficial realities does nothing to bring you closer to your fellow man and the human condition.”
In a huffy, exasperated response, knowing that the Voice is right but unable to relinquish the naive want to enjoy traveling without the larger questions of mankind entering the mix, One replies, “what does the condition of my fellow man have to do with this?”
“Tell me”, ponders the Voice, “what happens when all the glitter and newness washes off, and you’re left with nothing but yourself, grappling with the dual realities of poverty and destitution?”
“Why”, One implores frantically, attempting to head off the argument before it reaches its traditional fever pitch, “must you always bring reality into this? Why must you always conjure truth as though it were a magic potion, an incantation capable of destroying my peace and acceptance?”
“Because, you want to see the world for what it is, and shying away from that desire does nothing to bring you closer to your intentions”, says the Voice.
One thinks they have become weary; the world, once an experience, limited by the avenues and thoroughfares of suburbia, has become richer with the veil of American middle-class concerns lifted, but in its place a larger picture has emerged, straining One’s sense of right and wrong, imposing a need to redefine the true nature of man and his relationship with other men. Thankfully, for a time, the battle is put on hold, the wrestling subsided as One is called to the counter.
Walking through the terminal, beginning the unwanted, but imperative discussion again, one tries to justify the recent trend of walking away from a traditional life. One believes, part and Parcel to the experience of exploring one’s self through travel, is the ability to leave that seat at Thanks Giving diner open, or that spot near the tree at Christmas vacant. Some might, in fact, some do, question the motivation for making such decisions, and truthfully there isn’t a one size fits all answer; what some threaten to call sacrifice is the name of the game whenever one pursues a personal goal. The only offering One is able to provide, finite and bound as it is, and the most powerful of them all, is the accumulation of insight through experience. The act of internalizing whatever awaits around the corner, to engage with it deeply, fully, and the dedication of time to explore one’s relationship with it, allowing it to mold one’s character and expectations, is the greatest of all pursuits. It could be said, with utmost certainty, that there is an unquenchable burning, a need to be in constant motion, acting as a pervasive force in One’s life. Some shy away from movement and challenge, the assurance of the typical, explored, and known prove too much of a temptation to resist. Those predisposed to favor the feel the warmth of a fire on their cheeks during the holidays regularly wonder why being in transition has such appeal, and how it could provide such comfort when familiarity offers such a peaceful place to rest one’s mind. To such temptations One points out that to be in motion, to be in transition, in between here and there, is the place where One dreams the most, where reality is strongest, and the allure of what awaits has yet to be bogged down in mundane maintenance; where everything is possible.
The truth found in traveling is the definition of one’s self, and the truth found in defining one’s self is their relation to God.
to be continued…