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Musings from a Happy Wanderer

Why are some people motivated to travel, while others are content to lounge in their own backyards? Why does a plate of pommes frites from a corner cafe in Paris have more appeal for some than a serving of French fries from the local greasy spoon back home? And why do the streets of a sleepy, sun baked Spanish village seem more charming to the consummate wanderer than the streets of a small town fifty kilometres from home?

Being a merry wanderer myself, I can only say that from a very young age, I yearned to travel the globe. I read voraciously of faraway countries, different cultures and even of times gone by, convinced that I was born in the wrong place, the wrong time. I have luckily enough learned to be happy in the space I occupy, but I still thrill at the thought of getting on an aircraft, of swapping the known and familiar for the mysterious and the exotic. For me it is the thrill of discovery but maybe just as importantly, the need to escape, to flee the routine, to leave behind the mundane in search of greener pastures.  Though I am old enough now and have travelled enough to know that there IS no paradise on earth, it does not stop me from wanting to travel the world as a happy wanderer with a knapsack on my back.

I could not envisage a holiday spent at home, where the call of beds to be made, dishes to be washed, floors to be swept, meals to be cooked, gardens to be tamed, groceries to be bought would very quickly turn a day, two days, a week, into one continuous chore. I take as much guilty pleasure from leaving behind unmade beds, eating a meal that did not rob me of my appetite during its creation and having empty plates swept from my view, as I do from aimlessly wandering through quiet streets of busy tourist sites and coming upon an ancient edifice that the locals blindly walk by.

Even self-catered vacations have the lure of fresh vistas and new experiences, the attraction of being able to let go, to just be, with no fear of judgemental recriminations from the hood, your tenure short enough that your impact is minimal, your foot print fleeting. Seen in this light, travel is at best an escape, at worst a selfish indulgence, a brief passage through a time and space where you leave little to next to nothing of yourself. Yet it is this very fact that provides the replenishment and rebirthing of the soul, the time needed to recharge, so that when you return home, you can pick up the reigns of your busy life, a little richer for your experiences, a little more motivated to leave your mark.

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