Musings on Traveling

I had a small freak-out yesterday, along the lines of “oh-my-goodness-I-am-leaving-the-country-for-more-than-two-years-what-was-I-thinking?! I’m not ready for this!” But who ever is ready for what may be the adventure of a lifetime? All I can do is have an open mind and heart and plunge right in. Two things helped me reverse my freak-out mode this morning: (1) My friend Christina has been in Indonesia for less than a week — she’s starting a Fulbright ETA year — and is already blogging about all her amazing adventures. (2) My friend Ryan has been in Fiji all summer and recorded an inspiring set of reflections on his blog, about “do” versus “doing.” Here’s an excerpt from his entry:

My involvement in these projects has largely been the byproduct of my insatiable desire of DOING, which is an activity that will help me find something to DO.  With each passing experience, I am getting closer and closer to devoting my entire life to a cause,  be it education, sustainability, or solving large social inequities – or all three.   To move forward is to rely on faith and a dash of fear.  So fill up my cup, and here I go. (Ryan King, “Reflections – Part 1,” Sometimes Sun, Sometimes Rain)

Thank you, Ryan, for those wise words — my 27 months in the Peace Corps will be a lot of doing, in part to help me discover what I want to do. Ryan also posted this quotation at the bottom of that same entry, which put my fears in perspective (and even made me realize that my fears and anxieties may, in fact, be what make my embarkation and service more valuable): 

“What gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from [home], we are seized by an instinctive desire to go back to the protection of old habits. At that moment we are feverish but also porous, so that the slightest touch makes us quiver to the depths of our being. This is why we should not say we travel for pleasure…Pleasure takes us away from ourselves — Travel, which is like a greater and graver science, brings us back to ourselves.” (Albert Camus)

Camus’ statement really resonated with me, and maybe it does with any of you travelers out there. I try to remember my 8-day trip to Kenya (Jan 2009) and tell myself that I will have many similar feelings in Ukraine, though the time period will be longer.

There may be days when we sleep on little more than a mattress in a town with no electricity or running water:

But there will also be plenty of beautiful sunrises and sunsets:

Though I haven’t left my comfortable home yet, I begin to be more and more excited about what my fears may reveal about others and about myself. 

[23 days until Staging!]

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