You might think travel is exhilarating and exciting. You might think it’s all fun and games.
And it is…Until the uber stops.
She gets out of the car, I stay inside and look out the window. She’s on the side of the street standing there, looking at me. The girl I’ve shared everything with for four months, the girl I might be in love with, fades away.
The car drives away. She gets smaller and smaller. She turns into a single grain of pepper, then a spec of sand… Then nothing..
The car turns a corner and just like that, she’s gone.
I think that I might never see her again, and I’m crestfallen.
The journey had to go on.
Transience. Time is always passing. Life is always changing. Everything is impermanent.
Life is even more transient when you are backpacking around the world for 18 months, and alone for some of that time.
You have all of these sublime experiences. You see unknown parts of unknown worlds. You meet fascinating people.. You have a deep conversation with a new friend.
Then you leave. You go somewhere else.
You’re grateful, but it’s also sad.
It’s like planting seeds, watering them for a few weeks, but when the sprouts pop up, you’ve pulled them out, roots and all.
One of the best experience I had when traveling was six months in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I didn’t do much there for four months, because it was during the time I was editing my book, The Inner Peace Experiment. People ask me what I saw in Vietnam, and I respond, “Well I know the coffee shops really well.”
But one thing I was able to do was lay down roots. To have the time to meet friends, join a cross-fit group, and be involved in a relationship. I had a deeper connection with people in Vietnam than anywhere else I traveled.
Alas, I I uprooted myself again after six months. Friends in the flesh became friends on Facebook.
And this is a life of a backpacker, a life of transience, impermanence.
Back home now for seven months, I see the value of connection, of friendship, of family.
Travel has helped me realize the power of connection through those genuine, yet fleeting moments of connection on the road.
Travel opens your mind, it opens up your heart to other people who are worlds away from the world you came from. You learn about yourself. Travel helps you appreciate home more as well, and to live a deeper life at home.
You don’t have to travel to find this deeper meaning, no, you don’t. Connection can happen with anyone at anytime and any place.
But sometimes for some people, as James Joyce said in his book, Ulysses, “The longest way round is the shortest way home.”