Travel to most is an escape from reality, but what if it makes you experience your reality? I write this prologue to a recent trip to bare my thoughts.
Do you ever have that trip where everything just seems a blur? And you’re not even doing any drugs or alcohol? I just happened to be in one on my recent trip to Australia. It was my second time to be there and while things do seem familiar in a way, it was also uncanny that it was very different. I can tell you that I felt like someone in a dream-like state. You know, how the details are not exactly easy to remember but you felt strongly just the same? Whereas on my previous travels before, everything seemed palpable and exciting, this trip was rather wistful. All because something happened– I grew up. Strange, isn’t it?
I was recently thinking about it in line with my realisation that I haven’t been writing about my travels lately. From a professional standpoint it is bad because I have readers and followers (no matter how small the number is) who expect content and is not getting any or more appropriately, is getting it very late. Personally, I felt afraid when it dawned on me that I wasn’t as enthusiastic as before. I have time now, don’t I? Budget-wise, I can still stretch it a bit since I am not luxurious in my trips anyway- so, what changed? Apparently, a lot has. In my own personal life and also the world outside I am moving in. Part of coming of age, no matter how late you are in the game, is having these mini-meltdowns and moments where you are just blasted with a hard truth: your plans don’t always work out and life is sometimes hard. And, walking in central Melbourne– with its towering buildings and horde of suits moving along as biting winter winds slap my face, I felt that truth. I realised it then: I always treated travel as an escape, nothing more. Most of us do: escape from work, from stress, from a broken-heart. But do we actually get to enjoy it as a whole experience? One that suddenly triggers something inside you and not just as a mere distraction from your real life? Otherwise, it will just seem like escape for the sake of escaping. What good is travel, of life-really, if you don’t live in it?
It is well known that travel is an experience that changes us, whether you voluntarily willed to or not; there are morose realisations to be found as you gaze across a calm river on a sunset as well as hard truths that hit you like a train as you chase pavements in the middle of a busy city. Most times, they are not as obvious as say, changing your political views or accepting a societal norm of a certain culture– what we often as young, naive travellers refer to when we talk about knowledge gained in traveling. Often it really is about a change inside you, which comes stealthily and then all at once. My trip to Australia was far better than worst, despite what I wrote might come across as. I didn’t have reckless, adventurous moments as I would want to have, or rather, as the old me would have. I had a realisation that is not about collecting instagram photos or buying souvenirs or meeting new people– those are cool, of course but something I got from this trip is something more valuable: an acceptance. An acceptance that everything is and also isn’t. I can’t escape my truth as much as I can make my truth as magical or fantastical as I want it to be. Really, it is up to me. It’s a scary thing, but nonetheless liberating.
As depressing this post seem, I also want to put it put there that even the not-so fun parts of a journey also serves you a purpose and that in itself can be beautiful, if you choose to learn from it.
My escape might be a blur, but the message gained is crystal: stay true.