I sat in a car with my youngest brother C a few hours ago. Windows down, engine off, surrounded by SoCal foliage, and parked outside the condo building into which he had just moved most of his earthly possessions. He contemplated the emotion of moving to a drastically new place. After we sat in silence for a while, I shared an extemporaneous word picture that I was rather proud of so I figured I’d put it here so I can reread it someday.
Traveling is like a blanket that you throw over a collection of objects. At first the blanket seems completely new and foreign; nothing on the landscape looks familiar. But then as it settles, the objects underneath begin to show again. Their forms betrayed, covered with a new skin but not hidden. Those elements of someone take on different appearances but remain consistent.
Traveling and moving to new places has proven itself subtly and ironically grounding in a way I wouldn’t have expected starting out. When you uproot and make a new life for yourself in a new place, and exponentially so as you do that again and again, you begin to discern the staying threads in your life – and perhaps they actually become much more defined and real for those that travel, and are forced to find them, than for those who don’t.
Those themes – those threads – include one’s passions; the things one prefers and appreciates; community; connections with family and important people that span distance; the good and the bad; the memories and the experiences and how one holds them. Hopes; dreams; fears; what makes one feel alive and what one learns they never want to do again.
Traveling can be a great way to identify those things.