“Do you want that to get in your way?”
I’ve often heard people say “Don’t wait; just do it. Travel.” That sounds awfully luxurious to me, like a cry to arms for the comfortably bored. Not all of us have the means to just do it, to just pick up and fly away.
But do you want that to get in your way? That’s an idea that I can handle.
I want to see the world – one step at a time, in detail. I want to enjoy where I am when I’m there; I want to wrap myself in the feel of a place, not just the sides of it that are presented to me in brochures or by guides. More than just collecting places like badges, I want to breathe them in, to feel them with every one of my senses.
And do I want money to get in my way?
The just do it mentality tells me I shouldn’t…but actually, sometimes yes, I do want money to get between me and seeing the world. I don’t want to go broke travelling. I’ve got other priorities, and I bet you do too. I’m all for not waiting until I’m too old to go, but I also want to nurture my roots where I’ve put them down.
Do I want social ties to get in my way?
Yup. I love the people who love me, and they’re more important to me than a picture of yours truly at Macchu Picchu.
Do I want distance to get between me and experiencing faraway places?
Honestly, sometimes yes. Distance = time x money, in my experience. I’m not about to fly for 26 hours to spend a week somewhere. It works for some folks, but not for me.
I’m a human. I have restrictions. Some of them are set on me by outside forces, others I set on me. Such is life, I believe, for most of us; I’m not going to let myself be bothered by it.
That said, they used to get me down, these restrictions. “I never go anywhere,” I told people. “I don’t know where they get their money.” I knew people who would tour whole continents for months at a time. I was always too busy scraping by.
For years I let it get me down.
Then, after a lot of scraping by, I got a little ahead. Ahead enough that I decided I could afford to stretch my wings just a bit. Costa Rica first, and the emerald-and-azure tropical vacation I’d always dreamed of. Then, the next year, Mexico and a tour of mesoamerican ruins. Something I’d wanted to do since scanning the pages of National Geographic as a little boy.
I learned a lot on those vacations, and I kept meeting people who said “I would love to visit Canada.” Many didn’t have the money – jobs in Mexico and Central America, after all, don’t offer the same income that those in Canada tend to. Though I always knew I was privileged, that scraping by in Canada is in many ways a lot better than it is in most of the world, I started to really feel how privileged I was…financially, anyway. And I noticed that a great many people who made a lot less than me were still happy. “I would love to visit Canada,” said someone I met in Costa Rica, “but I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.” He nodded his chin at the vista around us: Green mountains with rivers cascading down to perfect beaches and turquoise Pacific waters. “How could I not be happy here?”
“There’s so much to see!” said one resident of Yucatan. History, culture, nature, beaches; he listed a litany of reasons why he chose to stay where he was, to travel at home. He had the money to go elsewhere, but he chose not to. I met Costa Ricans who had seen more of the world than I have, even more of Canada than I have; some of whom were itchy to leave home, while others were happy to stay where they were.
Everyone asked me about where I lived, too, and it struck me how much people wanted to come see what I took for granted.
And it still didn’t hit me. I still didn’t get it.
My coworkers asked me about how I planned my amazing vacations – not just the tropical ones, the local ones.
Still I didn’t get it.
And then I found myself in the middle of old-growth boreal forest, drenched, laughing, exhausted, in one of my favourite places on Earth. Here, at home. I am probably one of a half-dozen people who knows how to get there; I’ve been going there since I was 14, and there’s nowhere that I’ve spent any amount of money to get to that compares.
I got it. The blatantly obvious washed over me like a warm equatorial tide: I took how amazing home was for granted. Something in my head had understood that for a while, but suddenly my heart really connected with it. I felt it. I got it. That warm tide took me through memories of all the places I’d been to before I started flying away from home. My neck of the woods may not have soaring mountains or eternal summer – and that’s fine. My neck of the woods has some of the oldest places on Earth. It has water (fresh water!) like nowhere else; it’s a confluence of geographies, of ecosystems and cultures no greater or less than anywhere else, and entirely different than anywhere else.
Do I want to let me and my preconceived notions get in my way? No. Winter? No. Rainy days? No. Reputation? No.
If I want to see the world, really see it, that includes here.
In fact, here is amazing. So whatever my restrictions, I’m going to see it however I can.
I’m good for whatever. Want to come with me?