Embodying the spirit of a traveler in this world has a lot more to do with the way we approach life than it is about getting more stamps on our passport. It is about understanding that our time here on this planet is short. For this reason, we should be in awe of both the beauty and horror the world has to offer, and learn to make the best out of things.
I’ve been blessed to have been able to move around different parts of the world, but I find it most difficult to be a traveler once I’m settled back in my hometown. It’s not because I’m no longer in some place that some magazine listed as a top travel destination, but more because of the illusion of permanence is more evident when I’m comfortably settled somewhere.
Being on the road I noticed that people are generally nicer to each other. Part of the reason is because the time you’ll spend with one another is so short that you tend to make sure you’re at your best with each interaction. Even when you slip up on the road, you promptly find a way to make it up.
People are also usually more receptive while being somewhere foreign. Accepting the fact that we know so very little about the world, and there’s always something new to learn in every turn. That a different culture doesn’t mean that we need to be at each other’s throat, just that it means we have a lot of notes to exchange to help each other grow.
This is the spirit that I struggle with every time I find myself too comfortable somewhere. The recent common narrative to get out of such a comfort zone is to buy a plane ticket to somewhere new. However, I believe that even if one is not privileged to have that as an option, there are other ways to keep nurturing the traveler within us.
I have met people whose passport has more stamps than there are food stamps available for those in need and yet they have seen very little of the world. Just like I have met people who have never left their hometown but they have seen the world.
It is through wisdom and their contribution to those around them is how they have seen the world. They understand that our purpose in seeing the world is to find a calling that is beyond our self-interest.
To really embody the spirit of a traveler we need to learn to see new things in the familiar things in our daily lives. Go out and find out just how much you know and don’t know about your local town.
Go to the nearest park from your place. Count the number of trees, and benches there. Find out the name of the trees. observe the lights hitting the benches and the patterns they make.
Play a game with people that you love, and see what new stories you can collect about your local neighbourhood. See if you can find someone who has led or is leading an interesting life.
Listen to children and find out their aspirations, speak with the elders and discover their past perspiration.
We would be surprised at how much we can learn from things that we pass by every day without ever really giving them a second glance.
There are a million ways for us to live like a traveler in this world. The first step is perhaps to come to realize that we are all already travelers in this world. That our rental is due everyday while we’re here, and we’ll never know when our last day would be.
As Umar used to say,
“In the evening do not expect to live until the morning, and in the morning do not expect to live until the evening. Take advantage of your health before times of sickness, and take advantage of your life before your death.”