Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry. – Jack Kerouac
T-R-A-V-E-L is 6 distinct letters combined to create infinite meaning. Far more than going from one place to another, it is a journey. Inside every journey is a quest, even if only a surrender to the moment.
Born in the Philippines, raised in California, educated in France and Virginia, I worked in Washington, D.C., New York, North Carolina, and Connecticut, and traveled for work across the United States. I have lived in the suburbs of Manila, outside D.C., Tidewater Virginia, Northern and Southern California, the Mid-Hudson Valley, the Loire Valley, the Berkshires, and Texas Hill Country. Raised by ex-pat parents who lived with the locals in about every corner of the world and who invited people from many countries to live in ours, I am a mixed blood of mixed language and mixed places. Raised in urban environments, I have lived in many rural places. I am as at home on concrete as I am in the woods. By the time I was eighteen years old I had road tripped across the United States so often, I had stopped counting. My career would see me crisscross it many times more. And my wanderlust would see me cross many more borders.
When I was younger, I thought this was normal – this intense wanderlust, this fearless love of movement. Some have told me otherwise. It is hard to explain, even to myself. Descended from those who came to Jamestown in 1607, those who came on the Mayflower in 1620, and several native tribes, paradoxically, I have always been most at home with those who are recently immigrated. Sensing kindred spirits, it is as if we speak the language of movement. One can share that language, but no one can share the particularity of the journey. It requires its own viewpoint. Humans have always been better when sharing their worldviews. I imagine it a leftover from when we needed each other to survive. It is impossible to open to the light without an aperture. It is the spirit of those differing worldviews that I find so compelling.
In John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley,” a trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness…. All plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. (p. 3)
A million moments of wonder in my travels flash before me, but each has left its own indelible imprint upon me. I imagine that I share this love of adventure with my son and daughter. They are fearless in their own ways. There is more to fear stuck in place. Perhaps this is a relic from my own upbringing. My own mother would complain about governments that would round up their own people and force them into place — bedouins, gypsies, aborigines, American Indians, those who wandered over and loved well their land. “They need to just let them alone.” I would always agree even when I was little and wasn’t entirely sure what she was angry about.
I understand now. Movement is not just my birthright. It is that of all humans. We have been moving for eons – through rift valleys, over mountains, through meadows, across rivers and oceans.
Perhaps it is when we stop in place that we forget who we are and who our fellow travelers are. We forget each other and what it is to be human, to share the journey.
It is in wandering that we find ourselves.
Find our humanity and each other’s.
No matter how far apart, 2,042 miles from my daughter and 237 from my son, it is the journeys we have shared that have been the greatest moments – the most defining moments. It is how we continually find each other.