Curious Travels

I love to travel.  I love to see different things, breathe different air, taste different foods, hear different languages floating past me on the sidewalk.  I appreciate the obviousness of being the other compared to feeling that way so often in my own culture.  If there’s something that captures my imagination and sets me daydreaming, it usually has to do with someplace else.

All of which was summarized and crushed into guilt by a green puppet and purported Jedi master almost 30 years ago.  “This one a long time have I watched.  All his life he has looked away…to the future, to the horizon.  Never his mind on where he was.  Hmph.  What he was doing.  Hmph.  Adventure.  Heh.  Excitement.  Heh.  A Jedi craves not these things.  You are reckless.”

So, it isn’t without a fair amount of guilt (of course) that I admit this about myself.  But I’m hardly the first person to love to travel, and recklessness perhaps is an integral part of the whole going elsewhere process.  “It’s a dangerous business, going out of your door.  You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)  Movement is dangerous, though that danger isn’t always perceived by the traveler.

Take, for example, the story of children sent under false pretenses from England to Australia.  Permanently.  That was the experience of some English orphans, like this girl.  She was told she was going on a day-trip to Australia, not that she was being given a one-way ticket across the world, not that she was exchanging one set of trials and tribulations for a completely new set.

Sometimes the danger is less to the traveler and more to those amongst whom the traveler sojourns, whether for a few hours or years.  The traveler in some ways ought to know of the dangers that present themselves.  They take these upon themselves or discover them en route.  But to the people who receive the visitor, whether intentionally or unawares, there are dangers in confronting the other in a place they never expected – their own homeland and daily routines.  Such might be said for the menfolk who gather together and relinquish their pennies to meet travelers on a caravan of love.

Where are you going and where have you been and where is the other in your life today?  You might catch a glimpse of it in your spouse’s eyes, or in the laughter of children or grandchildren.  Echoes of the familiar that, for a moment, look and sound out of the ordinary, exotic even.  The other is everywhere and everyone and oddly enough, even ourselves.  Remembering this is so important.  “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”  (St. Augustine)

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