You don't learn to hold your own in the world by standing on guard, but by attacking, and getting well hammered yourself. — George Bernard Shaw
So here I am again, back on the road after a long sojourn. I say sojourn as it’s about the saddest word I can think of to describe the past two years without the ability to travel. Penned in. Locked out. Kept from the world except via the magical fibre optic cables that tie us together. The threads that run under our oceans connect us digitally but cannot do what it is we really seek, which is to live and breathe, to taste and feel and see all those things that are tangible. A cable cannot alter your brain chemistry neither, certainly not in the way that landing in a foreign country may.
I have this repetitive thought process in the moments before deciding to travel. I am full of doubt. Full of apprehension and fear. I know what it is, it’s that little motherfucker inside me saying ‘stay where you are, you don’t have to go travel.’ This only happens when I’m home.
My inner thoughts proceed to find any available excuse. Oh, moneys tight. Oh, the tickets are too expensive. Oh, COVID travel isn’t great. Oh, something at work happened ...blah blah blah! They are all excuses of a mind that’s too scared, too engaged by fear and latent in the comfortable life built up around them.
A similar such thing happens with animals at a zoo. They are not out in the wild, struggling to find water or avoid predators to live in an expansive territory and survive. They have their space, food and water catered to them. This is their space. This is home.
There is a story of a cheetah, living in an enclosure in India many years ago in a long since closed zoo. A western Veterinarian visits the zoo and tells the resident manager that the walls of the enclosure are too short. He claims a cheetah can jump some 20 feet if required and the zoo's walls are only three quarters of that. He recommends immediately removing the cheetah until they can fix the height issue, otherwise the zoo runs the risk of an escape. A veritable disaster.
The manager nods in response and says, “The animal has been here over a decade and never once has it tried to scale the walls. It doesn’t want to, this is its home, its territory. The only danger is if we try to go into it.”
A similar feeling resides inside myself and never gets extinguished, no matter how much I travel … But I always remind myself to tell that fucker to shut up. He is the latent cheetah content in his surrounds. Now book your tickets and get on that plane to nowhere without a plan in your head. That's the challenge I have to face. Just do. Just go.
So I take a deep breath, exhale and block out any notions of comfort, making unsteady steps toward my least favourite part of travel - the airport - That controlled, clean and sterile place that herds people about its premises, telling them what they can and can’t do as if simple animals. And it seems it’s very much warranted as most people seem to lack the intelligence to decide on even the most basic of social decorum. Don’t get me started.
I’m forced to expose my feet, my pants, have every piece of me examined as I pass through inspections – we’re corralled though the cow pen, into another pen, where we pass through overpriced shops on our way to the gate.
We board. I’m tall. As such I need more room than your average traveler. I can manage a two-hour flight cramped like salmon in a sushi roll but anything longer and I have to fork out extra money for the privilege of having an extra 20cm in front of me so my legs don’t suffer from DVT or any other such ailment.
Still, it doesn't change the width of the seat, so sitting next to like-minded people you end up getting cramped the other way and spend 8 hours in an elbow tussling match deciding who gets preference over the arm rest in between you.
I don’t cause problems, unless the other person next to me decides to try and go alpha and dominate the seating arrangement to suit themselves. Then it's game on.
Ahhhh … welcome back to travel.
-If you enjoy my rants please give me a share.