“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you—it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
It’s been a while since I set out into the world on my own. The lull is surprising because wandering is in my nature. Movement is in my blood. Exploration is my mantra. And I tend to adventure with an Indiana Jones-like ferocity.
It all really started when Canada and I called it quits seventeen years ago (an early version of conscious uncoupling). I crossed the pond to Denmark where I got a degree, job, group of friends, and fell in love over and over and over again. Yet, it wasn’t enough to calm the disquiet bubbling in my stomach. Before long, I cut all attachments, packed up and hit the road.
As that’s the only thing to do when restlessness strikes.
I’ve been around and I’m not ashamed to say it, having engaged in long trysts with Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Americas. I’m difficult to pin down for, even when “settled,” I’ll skip town whenever possible to explore other cities, states, and countries. I move to be inspired, learn and transition.
And let go of all the things I no longer choose to carry.
There’s a lot of soul-shaking things happening in my life right now, and I know I’m not alone. But as I prepare to embark on another set of adventures, with no finish line in sight, I’m acutely aware that not all wandering involves drinking tequila on the beach until 4 am or living happily ever after with the person you think “completes you.” Hell, it may not even involve taking a plane from one time zone to another since fair number of journeys are not only about fun.
Many have little to do with physical distance or involve being in possession of a passport.
A lot of travel, in fact, is about going within to navigate the crisscrossing roads of your mind and ride the hemorrhaging pathways of your heart. These internal journeys carry as much weight as external ones—sometimes more, depending on the situation. I’ve gone on countless expeditions that involved learning a skill set or gaining knowledge in a new field: Getting a degree, landing a job, starting a business, or writing 500 pages of prose. Contorting in yoga, fighting an adrenaline dump in the ring, learning a language, or taking off my armor and getting close to someone (so close they leave prints on my heart) only to let them go after a few seasons.
It just so happens, in my case, physical activity is my oft-used mode of transport. I’ve scouted out gyms, yoga studios, and outdoor spaces to hit up when I travel, and I’ve done it for as long as I can remember. I get a kick out of unrolling my mat or lacing up my shoes at a new club or venue. Aside from beating jet lag, it’s a chance to get a fresh perspective and meet new people—many who (like you) use similar outlets to unwind and tackle their demons.
The prime emotion I feel when Ibrahim yells: TERROR. Do I care? Nope. At MC Boxing Club in Brussels.
What’s best, however, is learning the essence of determination, tenacity and stamina don’t change from culture to culture. “Keep it up!” or “DON’T STOP PUNCHING THE BAG!” sound the same when yelled in most languages.
They are reminders we’re not all that different in the end. We all bleed a similar shade of crimson regardless of hair, eye, or skin colour.
And although such experiences are not labeled as “travel,” they clear similar paths and introduce us to new opportunities. Such voyages teach us we waste too much time seeking the approval of others. Instead, we should move in the direction of falling madly for the one person we ought to love unconditionally.
Those cardinal rules of transit don’t change, really: it should take you from one place to another and change you in the process—hopefully for the best. Along the way you might find there is no other choice but to negotiate a truce with weakness and insecurity. You’ve got to get out there and just do it. Engage with the activities that test limits and push boundaries.
Any wandering that spurs positive change is a force for good.