Traveling is inhaling pieces of world.
When I explore a new place, I try to push aside the me in me. I empty myself of plans and presumptions, making room for the life around me to seep in. Since January I’ve been inhaling: stale motorcycle fumes and crisp Colorado air; I’ve been hearing new words and dancing to new beats; I’ve met people of different colors and calibers. I reached new heights, looking down from the crest of a continent; I got hit from behind and sank low into strong-smelling fears I never thought I would encounter.
I had intended to travel longer. I wanted to fill myself with more stories as my pockets emptied and time ran out.
But when I came home from America, I realized I had inhaled a little more than my body could hold. An exhalation was inevitable; but if I did it thoughtlessly, in between travels, I would scatter millions of moments into the air and they would never be mine again.
I have to unwrap all the presents I’ve been given, and they have to break up into little cells, to flow in with the rest of my blood, to form connections with the person I was and to turn me into the person I will become. Now, they are simply moments. I must turn them into something, into me.
Traveling shakes me up and throws me down; it forces me to find my own steady ground in this senseless, spinning mess. But if I do nothing with my memories, they will sit on the shelf collecting dust like old family videos. As William Faulkner said:
“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.”
Putting words together is my way of making a little sense of life. But sometimes, I have to arrest my own motion in order to do so. Do you remember the story about the poor villager who goes searching for treasure and later discovers it had been in his own home all along? If I am still searching for something, I can’t have to have to look too far.
My next journey will begin in a little over a month, only this time it will be in a seated position. I am going to live and study in Jerusalem and maybe be a bit normal for a while. I got a glimpse of the world; it’s big. And, contrary to prior beliefs, I am not. But although I may be smaller and less significant than the planet, I still have a shockingly large appetite. And there are still a few thousand places on the menu I want to try.
Watch out, world, I’ll be back.