Travel And Change (No Coin Necessary)
Thursday, February 3, 2011
After six months of traveling, I remember one friend telling me, “never change.” I responded with, “change is necessary to grow.” I remember not knowing what that meant, but thinking that it had something to do with maturity and personality. Or something like that. So it was, for sometime during an extended-PTF that I had an existential-travel crisis: is it supposed to change you?
Just before re-arriving in Buenos Aires, I broke down a bit. Leaving Toronto (once again) with no plan. For most travelers, this would seem exciting and adventurous. Unfortunately, I seem to be more of a Paul Theroux traveler — one who romanticizes expeditions only to find them unbearable and exhausting. Each time I go back to my home city, my heart eases a little until the next place I wonder about. I wonder how many experience this kind of feeling.
So it was, when reading whether Modern Travelers Have Lost Their Way in the Wall Street Journal, I began to question whether we are supposed to experience existentialism on a journey or to be given “an opportunity of self-examination.”
I think that we learn to appreciate the difference between “want” & “needs,” and we also gain a better understanding of other cultures. Travel shows how most people in the world are actually good, not bad. It also shows that most places are actually quite peaceful, not violent. It opens one’s eyes to mainstream media’s propaganda of other places being “backwards.” But, instead of seeing this as a change of self, I think these experiences highlight aspects that were already present (quite possibly dormant).
Just like you get along with certain people for a certain reason — conversation flows easily over shared stories or thoughts — I think that certain places speak to different types of people. Some people have a curiosity of specific cultures. I remember traveling in Asia and the person I was traveling with preferred Taipei whereas I preferred Phnom Penh. Two different people with different tastes each taking the experience in those cities to re-discover their personal likes and dislikes.
It’s funny, though. Skype-ing with a friend the other day (I’m in Buenos Aires, she’s in Toronto), she told me how amazing it must be: writing in Buenos Aires! It seemed so romantic to her.
I couldn’t help but laugh. A lot of friends were concerned for my departure, dropping off copies of Eat, Pray, Love and giving advice on finding love. I didn’t really understand what was going on. I reassured my friend(s) that my stay here wasn’t exactly a movie moment — I had (have) apartment issues, the stress of finding a job, plans with friends I had made my first time here, etc . . . Essentially, I am doing the same thing that I would do anywhere, but just here. My self goes where I go. Growing up in a family of perpetual movers, I guess I learned to pack light and to bring my home in my heart.
Some people see this life and think it’s rosy. Perhaps it is, but I think everyone’s life is interesting. Perhaps travel allows us to, not change, but become more aware that self is not an extension of material “haves” but learning how to radiate “gives” (of time and advice) and “takes” (of time and advice). After so much moving around, whether to a new city or short jaunts of travel, always sharing time with family and friends, the only thing that has changed about me is learning this process called “flow.” But, that could just be a part of growing up.
By Brit Weaver
About the Author
Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog, TheBubblesAreDead.wordpress.com.