I Travel To Keep Myself Alive

When I am old and dying, I want to look back on my life and say ‘Wow, that was an adventure’

Here on top of the San Pedro Volcano, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

When I come back from a longer period of travel, after I’ve had a proper shower and enough sleep, I cannot help but feel this overwhelming wanderlust flowing all over my body again. Where is my next destination? When can I hit the road again?

‘I’ll trade anything for home’, somebody said to me lately. Would you really? Maybe by belonging nowhere you simply belong everywhere, at least for a while? Maybe you can only be free when you realise that you don’t belong any place — you belong every place?

Actually there were only two forms of existence, I reflected: one that was tied to a place and one that wasn’t. Both had always existed. Neither could be chosen.

I was also asked if I really travel to get away from myself. I don’t think you can ever get away from yourself. And even if you could, no, I don’t. I travel because it makes me feel alive. It makes me feel present. It makes me pay attention and keeps all my senses constantly awake.

It’s like falling in love all over again — the heightened awareness, the clear and crispy feeling of perhaps-something-fantastic-is-going-to-happen. That is why the best trips, just like the best love stories, never really end.

The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

I don’t have a wish to get away from myself, but sometimes I do wish to lose myself for a while. I lose myself in taking nothing for granted, in taking it all in and not planning anything. I learn to embrace the unknown, to accept the local rituals as my own. There’s no point in thinking about tomorrow, there is only now, and the never-ending forest. There’s nothing you have to do, there’s nothing you have to prove. The foreign places do not take notice of you. There’s no point in playing important. I keep quiet and I honor the divinity that resides within me.

If in our daily lives we tend to think too much and feel too little, when you travel it is exactly the opposite way. And it’s a good thing, to feel too much sometimes.

You don’t know you’ve been holding your breath until you let go.

Somewhere along the Portuguese Coast

Sometimes I find in myself this superabundance of energy and it doesn’t let me settle for a quiet existence, at least not yet. I think I travel so much because I belong to those people who have something eating them inside constantly. It’s like my brain is a monster that never keeps quiet and my soul is always longing for something greater. It’s a curse and a blessing because I never stop but I also always want more. It feels as if it was all too much and not enough at the same time.

All the lives we could live, all the people we will never know, never will be, they are everywhere. That is what the world is. — Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project

My friends see me as a time bomb, constantly ticking, ready to explode, and they, always collected and rational, are trying to figure out how to defuse me. I picture myself as a suspicious package on the road, and them as bomb-disposal experts, dressed in flameproof suits and helmets, approaching me circumspectly.

Personally, I think I am a bit like someone who is being asked if she would like to have a cheesecake or a brownie and she answers that she’d rather go for a walk. It’s hard to put me into a box. I change almost on a daily basis. I learn and grow. I keep falling in love with places I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.

Maybe this is exactly the privilege of being twenty-something: Having so many wonderful doors open in front of you and being unable to stop thinking about entering through the windows.

For now, I believe in the two-way bridges that I keep building all around me. I believe in the deep sense of everything, in the benefits of constant learning, and in the opportunity of today if you believe in a tomorrow. I believe that everybody has a gift, or maybe many gifts, and an obligation to make the best out of it. There are so many dreams that we must make real.

When I’m old and dying, I plan to look back on my life and say, ‘Wow, that was an adventure’, not ‘Wow, I sure felt safe’. — Tom Preston-Werner
Crossing the Dolomites in Italy and in DF, Mexico City
Agua Azul, Chiapas, Mexico and Casa de Arbol, Ecuador

What are your best experiences while travelling? Favourite destinations? Do you feel lonely when travelling by yourself? Please share your thoughts!