International Writers Magazine: From the Archives - Why I travel
always know when it is time for me to travel. An exotic dinner,
a foreign movie or just a familiar sound reminding me of faraway
places will suddenly make me restless. No matter how hard I try
to shake it, it lingers and grows, until it overwhelms me with
its urgency, and I air-lift myself thousands of miles from home,
where I can once again connect with another culture.
For me, there is
only one explanation for my wanderlust.
It was once said that the road to fulfillment is difficult to travel;
it can be like the sharp edge of a razor. For many of us,
sliding over the edge of our comfort zone into the unknown
requires considerable strength and courage. Yet, for those who achieve
it, it can be the most satisfying experience on earth.
This road to self-fulfillment isnt always easy. Many times I have
sat alone in my hotel room in some remote part of the world with no
air conditioning, no safe liquids to drink, strange insects and animals
lurking outside, and I would ask myself, why was I there? But even more
exactly, why was I there, knowing what awaited me?
During my years of traveling, I have dug through the ruins of history,
journeyed by bus, donkey, camel, elephant and bicycle to remote hideaways.
I have climbed the broken pieces of Borabadur, Göreme, Carthage
and Chichén Itzá. I have been seduced by the night lights
of Paris, Beirut and Bangkok and stripped of all inhibitions. Yet despite
my experiences, which, I must admit, sometimes left me sad, I never
became bitter. There were lessons to be learned, which have changed
my life my perception of life forever.
Each journey I took always had a purpose. Sometimes it was to study
the history, the food, or the customs of a particular culture; other
times it was just to drift and absorb. But despite my ostensible reason,
my real reason for the journey was always to connect with the world
on the deepest possible level, and in the process understand existence
Why do some people need the rush that comes from making a killing on
Wall Street; others the joy that comes from traveling among unknown
Traveling has taught me many lessons. The one I value the most, the
one that has saved me many times during crises, is alertness. Sorting
through the confusing activities around me, trying to understand what
I experienced have forced me to fine-tune observation. Details stand
out. Cultural differences new ways and sometimes even better
ways of thinking or doing things become significant. But even
more important, I learn to notice similarities.
Years of studying history and human behavior have confirmed that in
this huge tapestry called life, there is a familiar thread woven throughout
the tapestry that holds it all together. This familiar thread, I have
learned, provides form, purpose and even beauty to the design by its
Each of us is a little different and at different stages of our
personal growth but we are all traveling along the same road
to self-fulfillment. Some of us are moving quickly; others slowly; some
are blocked by their culture or the pressures of their circumstances.
Regardless, when the impediments are lifted, we all find ourselves grabbing
for the very same thing.
I met two artists in Budapest, after the iron curtain crumbled. She
and her husband had very little, just a talent that they had polished
in their spare time during the Russian rule. Yet they were happy, infinitely
happy, as happy as anyone could ever be. Why? Because now they were
free to take their own journey.
© Joe David - December 2006
Joe David is the author of four books, including two novels, Teacher
of the Year and The Fire Within. His writings have appeared
in many publications, including U.S. Airways, Chile Pepper, Family,
and Hemispheres magazines.
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