How to come home to someplace new.
What is the aim of travel? We plan, we book, we chart, we research, then we leave and return.
Before all of that, there is a desire, a calling, a dis-ease within us that leads to dreams of another place. So is the aim of travel to satisfy a yearning for departure? For separation? The need to shed something of our current selves and answer the call of what we’ll come to know as our future selves?
What do we expect from travel? When we plan a trip, what is the goal? Inevitably, we develop expectations as we Imagine the experience based upon what we've heard and read about our destination. But akin to terrible movie trailers that walk us through the entire story and reveal all its wonderful secrets and surprises, expectations of new places can lead to disappointment, unmet desire, anxiety even, and ultimately will cause us to miss the purpose of the place.
We can't do it all despite optimizing the itinerary to squeeze every last drop from the experience. And then, trying to do all of it, we miss something, and if all we arrived with is a checklist, wouldn't pictures and articles from someone else's experiences suffice? Imagine how much we could see if the checklist of sites and attractions counted as travel.
So I'll ask again: what is the aim of travel? Is the aim always the same? Or does it change depending on who we are when we leave, what drives us to leave, who we are traveling with and without, what we are leaving, and what we will return to?
I think I can only answer this within the context of my most recent trip: a family reunion of sorts, a homecoming, an introduction, a grounding in New Zealand. This most recent trip felt like a culmination of all the travel I've experienced. This trip felt like the first chapter in a new novel. All the travel before this one trip represents different degrees of separation and reunion.
With each trip I’ve taken as an adult, I was leaving someone I loved or traveling with them, but always growing closer to this love of my life (someone I fell in love with the first time I saw her more than 23 years ago… talk about a trip). With each experience, there was a calling from the love of my life that I was either leaving or returning to, and with this trip, that calling felt more like an arrival.
As we left together, my wife and daughters and I, setting off on our first international travel experience together, each destination became a homecoming, each next step an arrival somewhere new together. My expectations would interrupt this atmosphere periodically, but I see these interruptions in a new light now, looking back, as practice. These expectations and interruptions were a calling in themselves, raising awareness to similar interruptions and expectations that show up in our daily routine.
Upon our return, I hope this awareness and this practice will help me better identify and nurture the same moments and sensations of travel and arrivals somewhere new together in our everyday.
Now that we are home, I hope I am able to embrace the Tokarczuk quote in an effort to understand a fluid home is the aim of travel, to remind me home is always in flux.
And the aim of travel is to always be answering the call of your loved ones, and always be arriving at these new homes, near or far, together.