Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Traveling without moving

During the fortnight of illness that resulted in my many thousands of words on feminism, my writing prompted some pretty interesting responses from people. Some readers actively engaged with the ideas I was writing about and those people I asked to write something for this blog because, you know, they hadn’t done enough by engaging with me, I wanted them to give up their spare time to write more! Other friends showed their support in a more restrained by no less appreciated manner and those people I asked to set me a topic to write on. I was given three very different topics, but all three providing me with additional inspiration to that already animating my writing.

The topic I wanted to tackle first was that of ‘Travel’, suggested by Frances. Frances is a great traveler herself, and she wanted me to talk about how important it is to travel, but discuss also those who are not inclined to travel physically. I found the brief aligned well with one of the lessons I learnt in my twenties – traveling educates you with fun, but staying at home educates you with discipline. This entire blog started because I was in another country, and I wanted to be able to write about all the traveling I was doing. The funny thing is that precious few of my adventures whilst traveling around the United Kingdom and Europe are published on here, but many small discoveries made in every day life are.

I resigned myself long ago to the fact that I do not feel comfortable with a backpack as my only home. When I moved to London and started to visit Europe I discovered I could stand hostels for about three days, and I disliked traveling to places without a companion or a local to show me around. However I was extremely good at living in new places, feeling at home, making local friends and becoming a local myself. I always presumed it was because I liked to feel the history of each place, so being a local or knowing a local was the way to go, but I have since learnt it was because I don’t need to be somewhere exotic each time I experience a great and exciting change to my way of thinking.

Carving out my life in Perth has given me additional ideas on what I consider to be the essence of travel, whether that be actual physical travel in another culture and land, or be it the lessons of travel learnt in your own routine. I regard the discipline of the examined life to be the constant thread between a world traveler and an armchair traveler. I have heard complaints about Contiki Tours with young people drinking their way around the tourist attractions with their companions, and I have heard complaints about people who form opinions on far off countries from reading or hearing about them but not visiting them. I would always argue for people to think about the place they are, no matter if it is exotic or mundane, and I always wish to see places that I read or heard about, so I could experience it for myself.

On the topic of travel then, instead of ticking off the places I have been or the places I would like to go, I would like to talk about the disciplines I have had to learn to make sure I travel every day. I may be sleeping in my own bed each night but each day I can make the decision to travel through knowledge, narratives and neighbors.

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