Walking the pages of the world

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Saint Augustine.  

They say once you’ve travelled you get bitten by the bug. I love to travel, with all its wonders and its difficulties. Every  couple of years now I head off on a new adventure away from my homeland and in doing so I have found a greater appreciation for the world,  its people and their cultures . I have also developed a deep love and respect for my own country as a result of leaving to explore the world.

Like St Augustine and many others, travel for me puts so very much into perspective and reminds me that there is so much more than my own existence.  I love too, that at any time I can simply close my eyes and revisit the places I have been and relive the sights, the sounds and the experiences I had while there. It is as Conroy claims;

 “Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”

For all the joys travel brings there are also some small hurdles along the way that force one to really acknowledge the important things in life. Travel forces you to minimise, to adjust to change and difference and to make the most of every day despite the weather, language barriers and lack of home comforts. I’m not sure I totally agree with Cesare Pavese, the Italian poet and novelist, that travel is a ‘brutality’, although at times it can bang you up a bit.  It does however, force you to “trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.”

I love that when I travel my whole life is contained in a backpack.  The knowledge that I can do with less is a wonder to me and I am grateful for the simple things; a soft patch of grass to sit and eat the figs bought at a market, the stranger who offered help with directions, the cool breeze that dries a wet shirt after a long hike.

The impact of travel is not subtle. These opportunities for exploration and discovery are about more than discovering places. They are also about discovering and unearthing more of myself. For me it makes great dents in my ego, it tests me, feeds, fulfils and reshapes me. Each time I go away I come back changed. I think Theroux got it right when he said;  “You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back”

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