I haven’t traveled in a while. Although by travel, I mean a plane ride that crosses different time zones and cultures, I still haven’t traveled in a while even by bus. The most I have done lately is my usual commute. Commuting is tiring, travel is exciting. I knew it has been a while when a friend mentioned that her work is sending her off to another continent as part of a staff benefits programme. When she told me, I was first stunned that people actually have such jobs. Then I smiled and congratulated her. Under our friendly chatter, I felt a strong pang of envy. I wish it were me. By nature, I wouldn’t consider myself an evil step sister who cannot stand the happiness of others. Far from it, I am very empathetic, seriously, and I can be happy for others. So why did I feel so bad that I wasn’t traveling.
To be honest, I love traveling. I always dreamt of the job that would send me all over the world at someone else’s expense. And I once got close enough to such a job. Although I didn’t travel that much for work, I had more vacation time than most people and used it to discover my neighbours on the continent. Traveling close to home kept the spending low and I discovered places that I didn’t know.
When I changed jobs, it never occurred to me how much traveling meant for my spirit, until I could not. The jobs contexts were different, the vacations fewer and the income less. I realized that, for me, like many people, travel is a way of renewing the mind, opening up the mind, filling the mind with new things and emptying the mind of old clutter. There something about a new place, new smell, new FOOD that completely overhauls the entire human body and its multiple systems. The digestive system for one, seems to welcome a change of diet and feels quite challenged by digesting a new food. It is like giving it a new job and it will work harder hoping for another promotion in the future.
The heart and related systems benefit most. A vacation in a new country means that former stresses of your usual life are briefly forgotten and will be dealt with later. You don’t travel to Zanzibar to spend time thinking about how large the electricity bill will be or how your car really needs service. You remove that from memory and concentrate on your next sea food meal, on the next spice tour and the like. Watching the ocean becomes a morning occupation because someone else is making breakfast.
I have no problems with the usual airport hustles. I sleep comfortably on coach. I can survive an 8 hour flight without need of a cell phone. I eat anything once at my destination. I can make friends with people who don’t speak my language, will wear a veil if things come down to that and I will get as many shots in the arm as the embassy requires. I am not a fussy traveler.
I guess I must admit, I need to travel soon. I want to travel soon. I’m ready to travel soon. And when I do, I will no longer have to deal with pangs of envy when others do. What are YOU longing for?