With 300 Words, Travel.

31 March 2012 § 2 Comments

On the road without a camera, I must capture movement with words. I have been challenged to make what I do seem accessible to thousands of armchair-travelers, and to other travelers home enough to justify travel magazine subscriptions, or curious enough to peruse Matador’s ‘Top 5’ lists, which make me feel like I needn’t travel in order to travel.

I have stories. Lots of them. They’re exciting and inspire me to keep going. But I am a cliché: when life wasn’t headed where I’d wanted, I left a budding career, a long-term relationship, and – most tragically – my dog, to bound off for Alaska to strike it rich in commercial fishing.

It didn’t work.

The next three years were cratered by long trips abroad and a lack of funds I hadn’t known since childhood. I met wonderful, smart people. Some were beautiful, and I explored bodies as passionately as I have ancient cities, remote mountainscapes, and desert highways.

But I don’t call myself ‘traveler.’ I save that term for those whose stories of Australia, India, and Kazakhstan captivated me. They’d stepped onto a plane and let the wind take them someplace magical. I wanted to be like that, so I went.

Soon, I discovered that travel is not about the places we go, but the people we meet, and what solitude teaches us. Travel yanks us out of our comfort zones – which aren’t limited to hometowns, but are things that we do; to travel, for me, is to be authentic and raw, and to learn with an open heart. It is to seek truth where it has been hidden for centuries.

‘Keep going,’ they whisper in my ear.

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