Sometimes it feels so easy and natural, a smooth change from one climate or plane or nation to another, and yet other times claustrophobia and culture shock grab hold deep within rattling levels of consciousness I could never have known existed. And then I’m gasping with some imaginary asthma, wondering where my protective bubble has gone. Why do I have to do things the way I do things? Why do I suddenly feel so alone? Where is my safety net? My security? My home? It’s not always like this. But sometimes it is. And occasionally I stand there wondering where I have exactly gone with my life. Why have I switched countries again? Forced myself to make new friends again? Get used to a new way of life again? Really, I wonder, what’s in it for me?
What’s in it for me?
When the bubble disappears and I’m left vulnerable and naked with complete realization of where I am and who I am, it’s the ensuing moments when a new understanding begins to ooze in through my skin – seeping like primordial sludge – that I awaken and feel an abstruse sense of freedom. It’s this moment. It’s this feeling that I love. To know I can change. To know I can learn. To know that nothing holds me down or keeps me in place. To travel. To venture. To journey. To go where my heart desires and my dreams foresee. To meet new and interesting people and explore new and far away lands. But really, what I really love – is to learn a different way to live. That’s what’s in it for me.
But they ask. Doesn’t it get hard moving all the time? Don’t you miss home? Your friends? Your family? Doesn’t it get hard leaving all the time? Saying good-bye?
Yes. And no.
It does get hard to leave. And it does get hard to keep starting over. But I’ve stopped looking at it that way. Perhaps, I tell myself, I have developed a different way to live. Perhaps I am never leaving or arriving. Perhaps I am on a continuous journey. Yes. I’ll keep it simple. And all the people I meet along the way – I’m not saying good-bye, rather it’s “See you later.” Somewhere down the line in my journeys our paths may cross again. And if they don’t, that’s OK, because at least they crossed.
It’s not always hard though. Once the choice is made and the first step taken, I look forward. The ball has been set in motion. It’s a force. A current. Who would ever want to stop such a process?
But rarely do people ask if it’s exciting and enjoyable and life-altering and … visceral? Probably because they don’t want to hear the answer. They already know the answer.
I remember when I was 17 and all I could think was – there has to be more to life than Thunder Bay. Everyday before school I would repeat this mantra and it was the only thing that got me out of bed. And finally, at 19, I got my shot to leave.
This isn’t about why I left my hometown, though I’m sure that large step did help me realize that there was more out there that I wanted to see. And that I had the balls to go after the life I wanted. Yup. There is more to life than Thunder Bay. But don’t get me wrong. I still love my hometown, but it holds no more mystery for me.
Why I travel and move – it’s the most exciting life I can live in the way I want to live. It fulfills me in many many ways. It’s risky and challenging. But if it wasn’t challenging I would’t feel so fulfilled. It’s full of opportunity and discovery. Everything is always new and exciting – even when it’s the same old same old. Will I ever settle down somewhere? If that means buying a house or having a home base, then yes. I do want this sometime, but not just yet. And even then I’m still going to travel. I’ll just always have somewhere to go home to. And that’ll be another challenge.
My freedom is the most valuable thing I have. I would give up everything for it. I would fight for it. I would die for it. I know security is an illusion. I know life can change quickly. I know we might not have as much time as we think. I know the bubble doesn’t last forever. So I choose to live the way I do. It’s visceral. That’s the only way I can explain it.