Saturday, October 18, 2008

So what have we learned?

Why do people travel? Scratch that, why am I traveling? Frankly I don't have much of a satisfactory answer.

I've always felt like I should resist automatic impulses. Whether it's a reactionary, self flagellating mechanism that developed out of some binary logic taught to me as a child that things that come easy aren't worth having / doing or just an idea that if something is easy and anyone can do it then it's uniqueness is diluted somehow, cheapened by popularity, I can't say but I suppose because I knew that because it would be in some way difficult it would thus be worthwhile and possibly character building to circumnavigate the globe. Besides it's not exactly kosher to be as opinionated as I am about so many things, places and people without finding them, seeing them, meeting them.

But that doesn't do me well enough. I read once in an alternative version of the ten commandments a rule which I felt I should always try to keep: "Thou shalt not stop liking a band just because they become popular." And so just wanting to do something different isn't enough justification for me being here doing what I'm doing. (Not that it's particularly novel these days when almost everyone within five years of my age goes on a trip like this.)

So what's left? I suppose when I can see something coming, unless it's something I really want, I work to stop it happening. I could see the blocks arrange themselves in the distance once, a few years ago, and they formed a fairly pleasant seeming life, but I knocked them over, and would do it again. And why did I do that? Because there's nothing worse than knowing what's around the corner. Give me a surprising future any day above a prescribed safety. And I know it's an ancient eastern curse: May you live in interesting times. Maybe some people can just see further along at what's coming. Maybe some people don't even look, but I've never been one of them. In fact I spend more time staring at the ever approaching horizon than I do almost anything else.

Well it's certainly been different. For the most part anyway. Mind you I'd have to admit that the more things change the more they stay the same. I'm on the other side of the world right now. And it's late at night. I'm in a gaming internet cafe and the props required for this scene have fallen serendipitously onto the stage and lay now as they would, probably do, in fact, everywhere, anywhere else. There's the serious game player, whinnying like a donkey with grammatically mal formed insults and put downs ( the lions share of which denigrate himself in greater measure than his victim ), a girl whose wrists still bear the mark of travel -friendship bracelets from some pseudo utopia given in sincerity by an armchair Zionist who's memory were it not for the internet would have faded in the drink and drug tinged haze but which is flickering into focus in front of her right now as I type these words, courtesy of the misinformation super highway.

His dreadlocks were never grown with a skype headset in mind, but she doesn't notice the incongruity - she's happy that a living souvenir from a part of the world she may never have seen - if it weren't for her answering the same call of the road that I did - is continuing in some small way to edit her life.

I'm sitting here myself, wondering what this has done to me, what it's made of me that my separate pieces couldn't have been assembled into without this monumental journey. And I honestly don't know. I'm getting up in the morning (granted I still live in a hostel) to go write code for the day. Alright sydney harbour is a short walk away but functionally speaking what's different? Not much anymore. If I really open my eyes I can see it again. But when you're travelling you become like a reverse kitten. Your eyes are wide open in the beginning but the more time goes on they more they close. Soon it's like you're walking around not seeing anything, the way you do at home. The difference is, now I can turn it on when I want, I can look at this place through the lens of a foreigner and that's something I hope I can take home.

I may not always have been a finder but at least I'm out there seeking.

Note: I love the internet. It's my workplace and my playground but honestly on the road it's the closest thing I have to a home...

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