I can’t stomach poetry. It’s just not in my nature. There’s just something vaguely hoity (bordering on toity) when someone pipes up with, “I read poetry.”
Poetry was the springboard responsible for rap music. At least in my mind. And while I have been known to tap a toe or two to Eminem in my weaker moments, it’s not likely to be a staple on my iPod anytime soon.
So trust me when I say that I have never bought, borrowed, or Kindled any book on poetry. It doesn’t really ooze that cool factor.
“Hey check out this killer Yahia Lababidi haiku – it’s the shiz!”
But I do appreciate a well-written word. And if that well-written word happens to be in iambic pentameter, well then, I will just have to suck that shit up.
I recently came across a poem by Elizabeth Bishop titled “Questions of Travel”. Here’s the good bit:
“Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework…”
And it got me to thinking, “Why do we travel?”
I know I get asked that question a lot. It’s easy to ramble on about “oh there’s so much to see” and “oh there’s so much to do”, but that’s equating travel with distraction, not purpose.
So what motivates a person to willingly abandon unbridled convenience to wedge into undersized seats, queue in unforgiving heat, and suffer undercooked foods to see sites that are readily available in exquisite High-Def, Blu-ray, 1080p. Reassuring arms of Lazy-Boy at their side. Pause button and microwave at the ready.
The answer is not one-size-fits-all. We all have our reasons. But for many that intel is far too personal, or perhaps too complicated, and they’ll retreat to “oh there’s so much to see” and “oh there’s so much to do”. Or maybe they just have two weeks and want to get drunk on a beach. Or perhaps they’ve never really put that much thought into it. But I like to think there is a greater purpose to travel than drink umbrellas and sunscreen.
I get asked a lot of other questions when it comes to travel too. Here are some of the most common:
People ask me, “Aren’t you afraid?”
Afraid yes. Afraid of not living up to my potential. Afraid of having a mediocre life. Afraid of just giving in and giving up. But afraid of travelling? Not at all. I may have my monsters, but more often than not, they thankfully tend to stay at home.
People ask me, “Aren’t you lonely?”
Alone yes. But never lonely. I travel solo, but I know there’s a whole army of ‘kindreds’ out there that I haven’t met yet. Like-minded mortals — dreaming big, but living simple. Some of them are arseholes, but they show their stripes pretty quickly. And then I know it’s time to move on.
People ask me, “How can you afford to travel?”
To that I say, “How can I afford not to?” If I had stayed at home with that exquisite HDTV watching faraway vistas peppered with people soaking it in, I would have always thought – that could have been me. I could have aligned my life to make that happen. Instead I am here, wishing the week away, praying that the Lord or the lottery will deliver what only I can create.
People ask me, “Don’t you get tired?”
Tired yes. Tired of answering so many questions.
So what are your reasons for travel?
What questions do people ask you about your purpose for travel?