Most of us in this building are not nomads, travelers, vagabonds, or wanderers on a spiritual quest to find ourselves. During working hours we do what needs to be done and then continue exploring other possibilities or waiting for next chapter in our lives. Occasionally we enjoy the moments of surprise, laughter and the calm and warm weather.
Guests come and go. They do their thing, see whales, swim with dolphins, stare at their cell phones and leave. Meanwhile the daily problems emerge and dissipate. Sometimes we drag others to these emotional journeys and sometimes we seek for solitude. In the end guests leave and most of us remain.
Resistance to change
New Zealand is an easy country to be an outsider. Things work predictable and only the view created by continental shifts and the change in swell size of the ocean act as reminders that things can change. Even the ever changing weather becomes predictable in it’s indecisiveness.
Most people around are happy to explore places already on the map without the desire to seek unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations. In a country paved with smooth roads, hot showers, steady work, cafes and ice cream it’s not as easy as one might think to get off the beaten path. Barbwires on the edges of fields and forests tell where private properties begin. Beyond that is the unknown that doesn’t have any of the stuff that fulfills our desires instantaneously. It was Werner Herzog on one of his documentary classes who said that one needs to push the envelope of common practice to get the good shots. I’d have to agree.
Perhaps it’s the gap between moments of certainty that presents us with the opportunity to grow and learn something new. How do we then find that gap in the barbwire fence? You could wait for the moment of ’Error 404’ on your web browser or your battery to die. Then instead of clicking the ’Refresh’ -button or reaching for the USB charger one could run as far as possible and escape the LED-lit-pre-filtered-landscape.
There is nothing special about the travelers journey
For a home owner a journey from A to B can be mundane. It’s something that needs to be done. For a traveller this random space between two dots is the exciting part, at first. The journey is always different and it might seem exhilarating. This phase is the exploration part. It’s the quest for unanswered questions. Once the totality of the puzzle of existence emerges and the impossibility of putting all the pieces together through travelling becomes evident the rhythm slows down. Chasing sights and stamps to passport evolves to a search of experiences and skills. Accumulated values define choices until even those turn against you and force one to really see the never ending evolution of life. Finding out that the only way to learn is to unlearn requires a joyful approach.
Eventually traveller stops and looks inwards longer that would be culturally acceptable while queuing in a supermarket line or on a busy walkaway. The A and B and the difference between them becomes unimportant. Neither is there anything special about traveling in itself. What moving around does is it helps to see each moment as a collection of meaningful moments. Each encounter is a new possibility to increase ones understanding of all that is happening within and around. With this frame of mind observing and interacting with all surroundings becomes meaningful. Any misstep from this path hits you like hammer in the toe. There is a grey area, which I would call freewill, for jumping over fences warning of trespassing and eating food left in the fridge by past travelers. Our other behaviors are based on conflicting values, that for most of us borderlines hypocrisy. We choose the short way because we have not yet arrived.
I wasn’t yet a homeowner but I did recently buy a car. It helped get to the city few hours away where I wanted to take a course on how to safely work on high places. My mindset for this short journey was to arrive before dark and listen to some music on the way. As I started the drive I passed a hitchhiker. Immediately I felt regret for not understanding to lift my foot from the gas and break. She was on a bad spot but I could have turned around. I had preplanned the trip in my head and that had created a wall around any surprises for the journey. I have huge respect for people who can deviate from their fixed plans and redirect their attention elsewhere instantaneously whenever needed. I did scold myself for not stopping and was thankful for the insight this passing person had thought me.
After passing the course I returned to the same village and picked up where I left, which was somewhere between the unwashed dishes and toilets needing to be scrubbed. Years ago I had done my share of moving from hostel to hostel. Now I was working in one, between the mountains and the sea. Next I had decided to work on the hills.