Traveling in my opinion is a roller coaster ride in many ways. It is exhilarating and exciting, full of rapid ups and downs, twists and turns, and in our adrenalin fueled state a journey often ends with a wanting for more. The high intensity with which we feel our emotions during traveling is a big part of why it is such a unique and sought after experience. We are scared shitless at first, when we are thrown into a seemingly different world, thousands of miles away from our home; unsure what to do and scared of the bewildering unknown. Then we are relieved once we find a partner or partners, who will join us on our trip and who give us a warm sense of security and the opposite of loneliness. We experience joy and happiness as our travel group grows and we are saddened once the inevitable goodbye disbands this group, at least on a physical level. We fall in love, we fall out of love. As I said: a roller coaster ride. And although it often leaves us with a wanting for more, eventually even this adrenaline rush will fade and exhaustion will take its place. The roller coaster stops for a while. And I’m beginning to feel that I might have reached this point.
The thought of settling down somewhere, at least for a number of years, is becoming increasingly inviting to me. A big question is just where this “somewhere” could be. It is not Medellín in Colombia, where I’m currently at, and it’s not the part in Germany where I grew up. I’m becoming less and less restless, something that kept me on the road for most of the last years. I’m definitely feeling the exhaustion after god knows how many roller coaster rides. I feel like I need a place where I can belong and recharge, and where I can have somewhat of a regular daily routine. I basically need a place I can call home. Yesterday I was taking a cable car ride over the ‘favelas’ of Medellín, and although the state of those brick buildings is poor and the area is generally not the safest, especially for a ‘gringo‘ like myself, I couldn’t shake this strange feeling of envying the ‘paisas’ for having a place where they belong. I try not to come across as an ignorant and privileged backpacker (although I’m certainly privileged), but as always, I want to be as honest as I can and this is what I felt. Envy.
It essentially all comes down to what I already described in my post ‘The Desperate Desire To Belong Somewhere‘. Just stop traveling for a while, or at least on a slower pace, and to take some time to rest. I’m certainly not at the end of my travels altogether. For that I’m simply too curious and I have barely scratched the surface of what this world has to offer and I’m also curious as to what I have to offer to myself and to this world. For a long time I thought I was looking for ways to improve myself, but the more I’m living, the more I’m realizing that everything I need I already have and everything I am is already enough. So what I’m looking for is not self-improvement, but self-discovery.
Every one of our journeys is simultaneously a journey of self-discovery. Whatever we discover, we discover it with ourselves and for ourselves. We all have it within ourselves, this potential. That is why I think it’s called to “discover”, because we unveil what has been covered for all those years. But it was there all along. Nothing from the outside needs to be added.
So, based on the feeling that I’m having, my next journey needs to be one as a settled down person. Travelers often times seem to “look down” on people who don’t travel, who stay at home and don’t see the world. That their way of living is superior and it’s THE way a human being should live. But I think that this is not only arrogant, but also ignorant and short-minded. I believe that there is no “one way” of living a life. Traveling or settling down – none of them are better. They are just different.
Yes, exploring a new country, a new culture and getting wasted on a new kind of booze is an adventure. But so is raising a kid and building a family. A family person can hardly imagine letting go of everything they have worked so hard for in her/his life. A traveler on the other hand can also hardly imagine settling down and having a “normal” life. At least not yet. And that’s fine. It’s all a matter of perspective. We often forget to see it that way. We can be stubborn in our own point of view, that we see other lifestyles as a lesser or inferior way of living a life. But that’s not true. They cannot and should not be compared to each other. Again, it all comes down to being tolerant and accepting. Understanding is optional. It is not required in order to just accept that other people are completely happy with the life they are living, despite being different from their own. I can’t stress this enough.