This Is Not a Postcard

Tales of 2 people on 3 continents

State of travel

The state of travel is not categorically different than the state of being at home. It is, rather, an exaggerated condition in which small movements become large ones.

I am reminded of the fact that we are constantly in a state of motion every time I take out our camera’s monopod to stabilize a shot. No matter how hard you try – how long you hold your breath, how firmly planted your feet are, the extent to which you brace your elbows against a solid surface – your body is always moving, if ever so slightly. Even when you’re sleeping you’re moving. For all the seconds, minutes, hours and days of your life, you move. It’s the surest sign you’re not dead, in fact.

When you travel, you deliberately amplify this movement. Instead of shaking yourself from one room to another in your house, you essentially shake yourself across the state, across the country, across the world. Shake hard and you end up in India.

This state of perpetual motion also applies to your mental condition. It’s not that we don’t meet new people or explore new places or consider new ideas at home. It’s just that the explorations may have a more intimate scope. They are generally presumed to be less risky because many of their basic parameters are either known or thought to be understood.

Are they?

When you encounter a person in Athens, Ohio (as opposed to, say, Kodaikanal India), you take certain things for granted about them. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, you share the same mother tongue; you can assume familiarity with many of the same places and people; you engage in similar customs (dress, food, pets). You may even participate in similar activities, like gardening. This person could even be a very close friend of yours, or a family member with whom you have a long shared history.

No matter how much you have in common, though, your relationship with that individual involves reaching across universes. Who among us has not found ourselves marveling over the communication chasms that can grow between people with so much shared experience and shared values? Similarly, who among us has not been amazed by the closeness and familiarity that can emerge in the company of a person we’ve just recently met?

Travel is not a temporary state of mind, or state of being. Travel is our only state.

 

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2 Comments»

  jim and mary huth wrote @

apropos of “travel is our only state of being”………..time does not pass – people pass!

  Aarthi wrote @

Very well written. I loved this entry!


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