A Woman Born to Travel, Truly

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When I was a child, I dreamed. Africa's San Bushmen told me stories around a crackling fire. Embers shinning fiercely from beneath my Easy Bake Oven. Limbs of dense jungles climbed across the ceiling, weaving a complex, webbed escarpment above me. Light from my Great Explorations star kit glowed softly, like fireflies flushed out against a darkening sky. Throughout my childhood, an impatient world projected images of the darkest caves and sweeping forests, unknown deserts and sacred, ancient ruins across my bedroom walls. It was a private, fleeting show for only me to see. I remember the waves, the people, and the laughter as it floated tangibly around me. These scenes enchanted me into adolescence, then adulthood, and have only grown more vivid. Flirtatious, even. Biting at my subconscious in intervals throughout the day. 

I was born to travel, truly. And in saying this I simply mean I cannot fathom doing anything else with my life that feels as worthwhile. Witnessing new sights, meeting new people, and learning intimate details of cultures scattered across the globe has been my greatest ambition for as long as I can remember. I don't want bits of humanities' collective consciousness to disappear with time. I vaguely recall the moment I could conceptualize a world even existed outside of the rural mountain town I grew up in. It almost hurt to think about. Similarly to the hurt you feel when you try to wrap your head around just how immense the Universe is. Where it begins, what it is, and especially, its origin.

In my mind, strolling along unfamiliar paths, trekking atop new terrain in a corner of the world I've not yet seen is to embrace what it is to be human. That curiosity is such a vital part of our existence. It provides the sweetest adrenaline rush there is. Each day I wonder, “How might I achieve this?” Long term travel, I mean. Travel that would take me to the far reaches of the world. And not once a year, either, but multiple times, and for times on end. Just thinking about it gives me butterflies; a tingle of excitement, just like the one many know when they finally book that trip, or summit that long-sought peak. It's an excitement that awakens your heart and soul to what could be if you would just push past that familiar complacency and into something nebulous. It's one of my favorite feelings in the world.

Part of what contributes to my desire to see the world is a love of stories. Especially those that inspire others to chase their greatest aspirations. I am particularly interested in telling the stories of those we don't know much about. Or those we've a flawed perception of. Selfishly, I'd simply like to learn more about them, but mostly I feel that these peoples' stories need to be told, recorded, and tucked away for safe-keeping. I feel that in order too achieve some semblance of peace among those we too often peg as the "Other", we are obligated to both hear and tell their stories, our stories.. and to write a collective narrative. Because while Otherness can be romantic and exotic, it can also be ugly. It is time to draw a line here. So we might smooth harsh divides and ease unlettered minds. What does it truly mean to be human? I want to tell this story. 

I am constantly craving newness and change. Something I know to be both a curse and a blessing. It sparks passion, but it also makes me restless. It inspires me to explore the wetness of the Amazon, the sweet blue of the Oases of Oman, and the enchanting dance of Prayer Flags in Nepal as they catch on the wind. But it pushes me to do these things all at once.

I wish to explore the goodness that exists in people all over the world, the colors and textures of different cities, wildernesses, and seas. To learn about myself and others in ways I couldn’t possibly by staying at home. I long for trepidation. Excitement. Even loneliness. I long to share the smells, tastes, and culture of places not many visit, though I believe many should. I feel an obligation to tell the story of those who exist upon the vast tundra of Mongolia, the grasslands of Eastern Africa, and the Islands of Lofoten. 

As someone who finds most of her inspiration in stories written and otherwise, I can only hope that when I finally achieve my dream, that I am able to provide the same level of inspiration through the content I’d produce abroad. My primary ambition being to dispel erroneous stereotypes perpetrated by the media, and put to rest far reaching, and frankly ignorant, detrimental beliefs. Those which are made more concrete by their prolonged proliferation in the news, classrooms, and everywhere in-between. Instead, we need honest observations and raw experiences to proliferate. The good - and even the bad - and to pave a path for truth and realness I believe is severely lacking today. 

Thoreau once said “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

I refuse to die singing this same song. One of longing and desire and not quite fulfilled dreams. 

As fun as it is to daydream, I'm ready to live. To put to bed the notion that because I want to see the world, I'm running from home, or from family. I look forward to doing so by portraying the magic that exists in some of the world's least visited places and how important it is to experience them. The Surinames, Burkina Faso's, and Timor-Leste's of the world; places many have not even heard of. It is crucial to provide people an idea of what life looks like in these remote stretches of the world. It sheds light on our humanness.

My intention in writing this post was simply to elaborate on my greatest ambition, as it is something I've found quite difficult to articulate in the past. And I am asked about it frequently. I'm not sure I've done a sufficient job here, but at least it's a start.

I believe it is a special human trait to yearn to travel so strongly. To an extent, I would argue it is inherent. That everyone has a bit of this "wanderlust" in them. It's just that it takes a special person to find comfort in the uncomfortable. To get back up after having lay face-down in a cold, dusty outhouse in the middle of nowhere Ethiopia - sick again with food poisoning. And doing so with tired eyes, chapped lips, and an empty stomach, but also... a smile, eager for the day. To forgo showers and basic hygiene on the road... and enjoy it.

It takes dedication and hard work and passion. And, of course, the key ingredient to pull it all together.

A woman born to travel, truly.