I often wish I could just calm down about the whole thing, go along for the ride and stop thinking so much. According to common knowledge, traveling is the most wonderful, enjoyable thing in the world.
Actually, I find travel extremely difficult. I do it not for a break, but as an effort; I can feel myself strengthening under its tutelage. I am sharpening myself against its stone. It fills my head with images of places I will never see again, love for people I will never see again, nostalgia for short lives I have lived that I will never go back to. I believe that I am stronger, less sensitive, more steady, less moody than I was a few years ago, and I attribute this to travel.
The anxiety I am using it to confront is still there, regardless; the idea isn’t that I don’t feel anxious when on the road, but that I do, and that it’s good practice. Sometimes, within minutes, I can go from feeling free from plans and expectations and so expandedly liberated to feeling overwhelmed with doubt that I’m not doing it right, not seeing enough of the tourist stuff, being too touristy, not challenging myself, making it too hard for myself. And then I remind myself that none of that matters because in the end I am just living life like anyone does, I just happen to be in another country, and then I have a sweet connected interaction or a great meal and then I remember the alternative, the 9-5 and counting down to the weekend, and I am so thrilled, and so present.
I’m not always this dramatic, and these swings have gotten smaller and less frequent over the years, signaling the kind of growth I am after. I look forward to the gentle kind of day/month/year where I am not planning ahead, not making any requests of the world or myself, simply being where I am and then going to the next where when it feels right to go. Once that happens, maybe I’ll be ready to be in one place and take that practice into a more settled kind of life.