Wednesday, 31 July 2013

What Travellers Share

“It’s a shame you can’t keep them.” I said. “It’s a shame the most amazing people I meet, I meet when I travel and because they’re travelling, because I’m travelling, it doesn't last.”

“But that’s their beauty.” He replied. “Their beauty is in their flight. They wouldn't have wings if they weren't in motion.”

And that’s what defines a traveller: the motion.

It’s something about knowing it won’t last that makes you open up. You didn't know each other before and you might not meet again, so it all has to happen now. You have to tell the person you’re with how you feel and think because otherwise it will stay inside, unsaid and unshared.

And in that moment, how you feel and think can be however you want to feel and think. You don’t have to be who they expect you to be. Someone you've only just met doesn't expect you to be anything at all. And so you share who you are on that day, in that moment. The person who is a little bit different to all the days before and all the days after.

But part of you did came before and part of you will carry on after. And so you share it all. You share where you've been and where you’re going, because if you don’t share it now, with the person in front of you, you’ll be miles from anyone who knows. You’ll be lost.

You share being lost. You might think that you’re sharing directions or tips, prices, names of places to go, ruins to visit, histories of countries, cafes to sit in, bars to drink in. But you’re sharing being lost. You’re sharing that you don’t know, that you couldn't possibly know.

You might try to take something back from the unknown. To keep a shell you found, a bracelet you bought, a tattoo you got, a photo you took. But you can’t, really, take it back. It will lose its life if you try.

You can’t take the place home with you, so you share it with the person there. You’ll forget it once you've left. You’ll forget what it tasted like; you’ll forget the exact feeling of the hammock on your bare legs, of the ache in your muscles, of the path under your feet. And because you’ll forget, because you’ll forget the names, you’ll forget what you did in those hours where you didn't do anything, because you’ll forget it, it has to be lived.

You have to look at the world around you now. You have to share what you see, the details that you would miss, the language of signs that gives the place its meaning. You lend each other foreign words. And more than once, you lend each other your tiredness, your frustration, your confusion. And then you take it back, because one moment of awe erases it all.

You share a sight, or a sound. You share your thoughts or your bodies. You share nights in and nights out. The slow days, and the ones where you don’t sleep. You share the height of a mountain, the distance of nowhere, the cold of the sea and the heat of a campfire. You think you share the happiness you feel when you travel, but you really share who you are. Because it’s not only happiness you feel when you travel. You feel it all. You laugh and shout and sing and scream and dance and sleep and smile and cry and grieve and long and feel peace and fear and strength and helplessness. You don’t feel happiness when you travel, you feel life.

You are life. Life moving and moving, in circles as it does. The movement through hellos and goodbyes, through arrivals and departures, through day and night, through growth and decay. And that’s what you share. You share life.

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