Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Octopi, Lemon Gatorade, and Sweet Nostalgia

So I was at the grocery store today looking for something for lunch, when what did I find but baby octopus salad, like the tiny red octopi I ate on top of sushi in Thailand. Of course this lead me to feeling quite nostalgic and I had to get it and some lemon Gatorade as well. The octopi were better than expected although the soya sauce they were doused in was clearly low quality. I'm thinking the never-ending strike at the University is giving me just too much time alone with my thoughts. People were saying just after I came back that I was homesick for Thailand, which would require me to have some sort of semblance of home there, which I guess considering how little of a semblance of home I have even here might just be possible. However, I feel it is not home so much that I was missing but some sense of purpose. I feel when I am here as though my skin is stretched to tautly over my bones. There is this sort of constant sickness of having too little, and the pull of capitalism urging me to feel inadequate even if I might have otherwise found happiness. I need to escape. It doesn't really matter where. Thailand is just convenient. If I was able to escape my thoughts entirely perhaps I wouldn't have to run off to somewhere warm, tropical, and distant. Then again, I might anyways.

They say sometimes that once you get the traveling bug you just can't stay home too long. You need to keep going places, and seeing things. I think perhaps it is because traveling fundamentally changes you. You become something extraordinary in the sense that you mature rapidly. You gain confidence and life experience. You learn to problem solve. You experience new things, and become more open to different ideologies. I think that traveling can make you grow apart from loved ones, and also can bring you closer to others. You can never be the same person you were before you stepped out of your front door, and left the familiar world behind. You have to experience it to understand. You become so much more than you could have even imagined for yourself before you left. It's not a traveling bug so much as a soulful yearning to return to the place that made the whole world shift beneath your feet. Each place you travel is somewhere you leave a part of your soul behind. You can go on forever trying to search out those tiny shards and piece them back together but more break off along the way. And supposing you could collect them all up, you could never piece them back together just the same. No. It is better to admit to yourself that you have changed, for better or for worse. (I like to believe it is always for the better.)

Traveling creates memories, that are pasted in your mind's eye. They can never be erased. Tearful images, images of beauty, images that change you, move you, drive you. They send you on quests to find meaning. You want to understand. The truth eludes you, or turns out to be more complex than you had ever envisioned. There are no answers to satisfy your questions, just more questions. You are broken, or perhaps fixed. The wool that was pulled over your eyes before is now lifted. You are learning to see again, little by little.

So go traveling. Leave the things you know behind. Pack a small bag with sunscreen, and bandaids, and a camera. Take the next flight out. Go anywhere. Escape. You will never come back home again. If you do, you will not find it there. To find home you must look within, and come to terms with what you see. Traveling is about learning to live with yourself, and look past your own flaws, build something positive. Become like the turtle, carry home upon your back. Trust your feet to find your way along the path ahead. Leave behind only footprints.