Every traveller loves to quote Tolkien, as though it gives a sense of mystic or divine purpose to their wanderings – as if they will stumble upon the meaning of life they were searching for, or short of that, some unknown hole-in-the-wall that serves the best pho or felafel or feijoada.
I’m not sure what this blog will be, and I’m not sure if I want you or anyone else to read it. Really it’s just for my own benefit – an effort to make myself put coherent ideas and words to the experiences I will be having, so that the jumble of incessant thought, which my head seems to persistently consist of, will be teased out into meaningful (at least for me) reflections. We’ll see how that goes.
I know the value of staying put. I know how it allows you to become part of a place and develop a sense of community, to be connected and grounded, like the roots of a tree. I even have a tattoo to remind myself just that. I spent almost a decade of my childhood living between two places – two different worlds. I know what it is to say goodbye to friends and family, and am still often incredibly sad at any departures in my life, even if I know I’ll see the person again. From experience, it’s never guaranteed.
I suspect that when I return from my travels I’ll come to the same conclusion, and perhaps will long for this sense of connection more fully. My childhood experiences led me to that desire – but now for something different. I’m choosing to go it alone – to jump into the unknown with a little bit of courage and hopefully not too much stupidity. Rather than plan everything like I would naturally be inclined to do, to have backups for my backups and just-in-case plans for my plan ‘b’s, I’ll be leaving with a one-way flight, a couple visas, a farm in Turkey lined up, and little else.
At this point I’m not feeling much fear, but that all could change when it becomes real and I’m sitting in an unfamiliar airport or train station, wondering what’s next or feeling completely alone and lost.
But that is also why I go. To do that which part of me has always dreamed I’d be brave enough to do. To cause myself to be challenged, to grow, to face fear, to question what I know. Of course the reality will be unexpected, possibly mundane, and perhaps genuinely frightening – but I endeavour to experience it all fully and see Jesus through, in and around it all, in the people I meet, the ground I work, and in the joy, fear and discomfort that I feel.
As I write this, I can hear my neighbours from the apartment block across from me singing and playing Indian music, and it’s beautiful. Maybe I’m silly and naïve for picking up and leaving before I’ve properly settled in to where I’m at in life – maybe I’m running away from something, or maybe I suspect that what I’m leaving will still be here when I return. Maybe my travels will lead me to a new place and path, some renewed meaning or motivation… or maybe I’m just lost.