For as long as I can remember, I have not been able to sleep the night before a trip. The sheer excitement of the forthcoming journey keeps me sleepless, changing sides. Although I would find many travelers who would share with me the sleepless night syndrome, many might disagree with me on the ‘excitement’ factor. They are sleepless not because of the excitement, but the fear of travel. The title of this article is dedicated to all such people.
I believe our reaction to travel depends much on the way we define it. However, the personal definitions that we form, should somewhere be adopted from the literal meaning. Let’s see if that is the case. So, what is travel (literally)? A look at one of my old and trusted friend Merriam-Webster enlightens me with a very interesting fact –
Main Entry: 1trav·el
Inflected Form(s): trav·eled or trav·elled; trav·el·ing or trav·el·ling \ˈtra-və-liŋ, ˈtrav-liŋ\
Etymology: Middle English travailen, travelen to torment, labor, strive, journey, from Anglo-French travailler
Date: 14th century
Notice the Etymology. The word Travel has originated from a French word Travail, essentially meaning a tedious work. Apparently, some 700 years ago, travel was synonymous with being tormented. A word which originated as a torture device (that too from french) and transformed itself into a flourishing modern day service industry could be nothing but a vibrant creative art. Just like any other art forms, there are no rules but just varying ideas. This article is a rough summation of how I perceive travel.
Shakespeare has famously said, ‘Expectation is the root of all heartache’. Same is true in the perspective of travel aswell. An expectation is a belief that is centered on future and may or may not be realistic. Negative results are bound to create disappointment, but the most irritating part is that the positive/expected results would not bring excitement either. They are cursed to fall under the dictum of “Uhh! as expected!”. Why should we expect from travel? Let it be as uncertain as possible and then let every surprise be a whole new doze of life for us.
This is where a traveler differentiates himself from a tourist. A tourist has a plan with him before he leaves his home. A traveler has no plans, no rules and as a result no limitations. A traveler, unlike a tourist is not inspired by his destination. The only inspiration is the individual himself and such kind of self inspired journey is more of a slam book rather than a route. And the plans? Well, they are allowed to be constructed and re-constructed along the way.
And all this pain to arrive at my aspired destination? No.
A traveler’s journey is more important than the destination. Infact there are no destinations in a traveler’s map. For a smart and seeking traveler the apparent destination is just a mere clue for next journey. Approaching our travel with such an outlook, we might need to edit our dictionaries wherein the word DESTINATION is but a conjunction of words DESTINY and STATION. While traveling, we never arrive. Engrossed utterly in the elements of nature, the intention is not to arrive, but strive. We strive until we are one with nature. We also strive until we travel equal distance within, as on the road.
This art of travel has various signature styles aswell. These styles are influenced by our purpose or more precisely by the ‘clues’ that I mention above. There are travelers who travel to discover the known in the unknown and the ones who travel to explore the unknown in the known. And then there are people seeking better answers from their travel, coming across equal number of people seeking better questions to start with.
Just like a elegant painter, paint your canvas of life while traveling on road, with the dust and stones you gather. Every now and then, take a break and look at the picture. If the canvas resembles a map, KEEP WALKING.