Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One day at a time, one place at a time...

So if one really wanted to make traveling one's life, how would you start? Well, I assume one part of this effort would be to talk about what traveling means, why you enjoy it, and the like. Make a case. Sell the concept. Pitch it. So here I am to do that.

I have come late to traveling, admittedly. I grew up in a family where I got the impression that traveling was a luxury, something we could not afford. At the same time I heard about people like Jules Verne, who never traveled but still managed to create incredible worlds from his imagination. So it occurred to me that traveling may not necessarily be a matter of distance. Rather, it may be the traveler who makes the traveling.

That's criteria one for my philosophy of traveling: be ready to have an adventure wherever you are, at any time. Look on your surroundings with the eyes of a traveler. Experience the delight of seeing what you have always seen with new eyes, as if looking at it for the first time. Expect to see something wonderful.

One of the first kinds of traveling I did was walking. I loved seeing something far off in the distance grow larger and clearer and more exciting as I drew closer on foot. And that experience informs my second criteria for traveling: don't be in a hurry. If you're in a museum, for example, looking at a particular painting that is amazing, seeing it once for a few seconds is not enough. Go away and come back 5 times. The painting may seem different each time.

But of course that's not true - what is different is ourselves. It is important to remember that we are traveling not to get anywhere or see anything. We are traveling to affect ourselves, to change ourselves.

The main part of my philosophy for traveling is to spend a good deal of time in one place. I like to really get to know a city I am visiting. After a few days, after I have seen all the sights and eaten in all the restaurants on my list, a place can really start to get into my bones. It can become the sort of magical place that I will revisit in my dreams for years to come.

Toledo, Spain is just such a magical place for me. You will see a picture of part of Toledo in the photo at the top of this page. With its medieval stone buildings and bumpy cobbled streets, being there is not at all like being in New York City where I live. I have visited there three times and will happily visit there again. Yes, there are lots of things to see - museums, medieval churches, etc. But more importantly, walking up and down the windy narrow streets, I get transported. Toledo gives me the kind of traveling experience I thirst for. It is delightful being there.

So in future posts I will start to talk about other places I have visited, and talk more about why I love traveling so much.

1 comment: