I love to travel and I love travel literature.
From my youngest days I can remember reading travel books. There are all my old favorites, Theroux, Iyer, Bill Bryson, Bruce Chatwin. Those were fun splashes in the shallow end of the cultural pool, but I needed more. I needed full immersion.
And so I found C. M Doughty and his Travels in Arabia Deserta, Gertrude Bell, T E Lawrence, and Eric Newby’s, A Short Walk in The Hindu Kush, Wilfred Thesiger, Freya Stark (whose name will now be forever mixed up in my mind with Game of Thrones!) These were the works that truly spoke to me. Not a quick vacation spree through a tourist hotspot, but years in another country. An exit from all things familiar, a turn away from the old self, and a birth of the new.
There is nothing more freeing and energizing to me than traveling to another country. After flying 15 hours to the far side of the world, my wife will sleep for another 15 at least, only waking sporadically to place orders for food. I on the other hand will wander the streets at whatever hour it may be, wild-eyed and sleep-deprived, strange coins jingling in my pocket, the siren-song of strange languages in my ears.
If no one in this part of the world knows anything at all about you, then you might be anyone, anything. Suddenly the delicate gossamer threads that tie me to that other life; the wife, house in the burbs, 2.3 kids and a dog life, are revealed to me in stark relief. And when seen in this light, it is clear that those threads are simply constructs of my mind, they are tricks and diversions and self-induced tunnel vision, painstakingly developed over the years in order to navigate a course down the middle of the channel of Acceptable Behavior.
Another way of revealing the inner workings, the head games you play with yourself, is to completely remove yourself from the presence of other people, and even man-made things, for a few days. Check this out: http://wp.me/p3e2mD-3Q. Live with yourself and nothing else for 4 or 5 days, and see if you are quite the same when you come out of it. Spoiler, you won’t be.
We all practice this kind of self-deception. We have to if we want to be functioning, accepted members of society, and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact it is a wonderful mechanism that we possess. But if you are the sort who always wants to peek behind the curtain, if you want to know how the sausage is made, then travel to a foreign land, head out on your own, lose yourself for a while, and find something totally new within you.
Oops, well I am a day late with this, but it was meant for the: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/daily-prompt-new/