Wednesday, September 14, 2011

27: Travel

Some reasons why travel is one of the big things in my life:
  1. It forces the ol' brain to develop new neural pathways as I figure out routes to unfamiliar destinations. Not only does this apparently lower the risk of my someday developing Alzheimer's; it's making me smarter now.
  2. It relieves me of the occasional temptation to sink into comfort and complacency. Things are less easily taken for granted when even the most basic of affairs, like ordering a drink, becomes an exercise in daring.
  3. It shows me something of who the Other People in this world are. Not just what they do, how they spend and what they wear, but how they interact with their loved ones and how they treat the less fortunate in their societies. (It also says something about a place when there are no seemingly no homeless, no mentally disturbed or substance affected people on the streets. Leads to the question: are they not there at all... are have they been put away somewhere to make the picture prettier?)
  4. It satisfies the curious, adventuresome side of me that wants more than the same, known landscape day after day after day. Sure, the unknown can be scary... but turning it into the known is usually fun or, at bare minimum, enriching.
  5. It sharpens my appreciation of what's already before me all the time in said landscape.

In my mid-20s when I was back in the Klang Valley workforce, the four years after I returned from Sydney and before I returned to Sydney, I would often have this sharp longing to be back in Sydney because I knew that chapter of my life hadn't completely come to a close yet. What kept me grounded, and possibly made my eventual return to Sydney go a lot more smoothly despite the odd injury and career-altering change, was my resolution to first enjoy all that home offered me. I made myself aware that where I lived year-round was a dream holiday destination for some and economic situation booster for others. (I had a hard time convincing myself, but all those maids and construction workers aren't pouring in just because they like to risk their lives building stuff under sparsely regulated safety conditions or leave their own children behind to look after a stranger's.) I chose to see where I was as the best place for me to be at that moment. And although I had to leave behind the people I love most, I had to tell myself -- as I do still -- that I travel not to get away, but to go towards something good, to the place that's best for me to be in next.

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