Well, you see, when you ask someone what would they do if they had money, most people would say, without even thinking- Travel.
We, as humans are born with such a desire to know, to see, to explore, that had us climb mountains, cross seas and oceans, dive deep and fly high in search of something to soothe our souls. In this search of ours to know, we have encountered billions of stories and seen millions of people living their lives and sometimes, we had even imagined ourselves to be a part of that local universe.
We travel to belong. To find our place in this (still) undiscovered world, and think of the different lives we would have lived if we were just been born someplace else. People from the valleys imagine living on top of the mountains. People from the mountains daydream of the sea and people from the tiny and remote villages wish to be in a bustling and vibrant metropolis.
It is perhaps that we are born on this planet, but we don’t quite belong here? Have you ever wondered why are you here? Well, that is a really good question.
Setting aside the travelling to say we’ve been there and saw that and taking pictures to prove it to our friends, there is the other kind of travelling, when we just go in search of ourselves.
And when during those quiet moments on a plane, train, car, boat, whatever means of transportation is available, including one’s own feet, you space out and imagine you are not a traveller, but a local.
Travelling means being part of the everyday lives of other people. We catch a glimpse on how other people live, how their lives are, what their normal looks like. And we marvel at it while sitting in a local pub and eat hot sweet potato chilly soup with warm bread and butter and sip a glass of white wine, listening to the locals’ chatter and their laughter. And our lives get richer, our imagination awakens and we find ourselves believing for a moment we are also one of them. That is the magic of travel. That fleeting moment of belonging.
We lose ourselves in forests, foreign alleys, take the less beaten path and see the new world with wonder eyes. We see new faces, new customs, we taste new dishes, new wines, we hear different languages and even different realities than ours, and we marvel some more. How is it that people are so different?
And then, you find yourself in a book shop reaching for the same dear-old-book as a stranger, and you both smile. Or you take the wrong coffee cup at the local brewery and after taking the first sip, you realize it is the same as you have ordered. Perhaps sweeter than you would have liked, but it is the same, universal latte. And you and the real owner, both smile, like before, sharing something. Or when the friendly dog of a local comes to you with the ball, pleading eyes and wiggling tail to invite you to play with him. And you throw the dirty ball a couple of times, while the owner of the dog watches you amused and bursts into laughter when the dog – at some point – seems confused. Or that moment when you are so caught up in your writing that you do not hear the stranger asking to share your table, but he sits down anyway, while you scribble furiously an idea that just came to you in your rugged notebook. And when you finally get out of your head you see the stranger next to you drawing with a passion in his own tiny notebook filled with colours and stains, always on the rush, always with a fear of not being able to capture the entire feeling. And you smile. Or when you go to a church to clear your head and rest your tired body, and the person greeting you says they’re having an organ concert that evening, would you be staying? It seems that there is an emeritus organ teacher playing, such an amazing feat for that small village of theirs. And you start nodding so furiously that they smile. And you listen to the wordless emotions, the grave and vibrant tones of the instrument, and you get transposed into another realm, without borders, without another language than the universal one of emotion. And at the end of it, you turn to leave and you see an old man coming down from the choir helped by a younger boy, and you get introduced to the emeritus professor, who moved out there from the big city after his retirement, bought an organ, repaired it and now is teaching the village children music, including his own nephew. And you know you still have tears in your eyes, and the old man puts his thin and parchment white fingers on your forearm and thanks you. And you think to yourself- shouldn’t be the other way around? Or when you find yourself giving directions to others, because they took you for a local, and you just happen to know the way as you just came from that place. And they thank you, smiling and pocketing their maps, and follow your instructions. Or when you are staying in line to get some ice cream and one local comes to ask the ice cream lady if they have brought some pear and rosemary or mulberry and thyme to take home, and you end up thanking him for the recommendation afterwards.
These are just tiny bits of things that may happen when one travels. Near or far.
Travelling does not need to be thousands of miles away, on the other side of the globe, in order to be called travel. The simple idea of removing yourself from the usual known and extremely beaten path is travel.
And then you may find tiny stories like the ones above.