Thursday, July 19, 2012

Traveling...Denotation vs Connotation. Hobby or vocation?

So after meeting another CS "wanderer," last night, I've decided to expound on the word "traveling." According to good ol' Webster, 1) "to go on as if on a trip or tour," 2)  "to move from one place to another," 3) "to journey through or over." When I met this guy last night, he didn't say the typical, "I'm traveling." He rather said, "I'm wandering." When one says travel, it probably does signify a) there is a specific length of time (the tour definition), but b) that you're merely traversing through an area. Traveling isn't the right word to describe when you are going to an area to truly know it (conocer in Spanish) rather than to say you've been there. This also has to do with traveling for places v traveling for people. I myself certainly do both. Perhaps this is why I hate touristy places so much. Because there's no chance in getting to know the people or the area. The locals see you only as a simple customer to buy their product, rather that be a tour, hotel, or food. As I'm sure many of you already know, this is why CS is so amazing. You are not only staying with locals, but they usually show you things you would only know from being with a local.

When the CS last night said he went to Chile for a month and spent every day but one in Santiago, many people were offended and couldn't believe he hadn't gone to Patagonia in the south (I'll admit even I said you should have gone cuz it truly is beautiful). But that wasn't his purpose in going. The day he took to go to Valpo was a waste because he only went to see it. He didn't have time to get to know it. This is why I try to go to a place and truly get to know it rather than going to 10 cities in one week.

So back to the question at hand. Wanderer vs traveler. To me wandering implies you have no set route (True), no purpose (argued the purpose is sought along the away), and no limits as to what you may do. It isn't vacation, but I propose rather a catalyst to find one's vocation by learning about others and being pushed out of one's comfort zone with excellent discussion and a myriad of experiences. When I was in Europe, people often asked how long I had been on vacation. But despite the fact I wasn't working, it wasn't vacation. To me, vacation is when you go to one spot and do nothing. Traveling (IMHO at least) is almost an exact contrast. You're invigorating all five senses plus your brain, heart, and spirit. There aren't a whole lot of things that do this all at once and perhaps that's why I love it so much. I'm a sensual person in the truest and most literal sense of the word.
I also expressed last night how difficult it was for me to answer the unanswerable question, "How was XX (Tanzania, Chile, and heck even Boston)?" He brought up some good coping mechanisms that I'd like to share in case anyone else is struggling. First, don't bring up the fact that you've been there unless it comes up in conversation (to me this just invites boring, mundane conversation, but I'll try it). B) Point out, the amazing things they have that you don't have (living in one place, being married, etc) C) Don't let it get put on a pedestal.

But what I realized through this and him saying the sentence "When I was living in Germany and WOOFing in Switzerland," is that traveling like many things is a hobby that has particular lingo and a sense of understanding to which only fellow travelers can relate. This is not meant to sound exclusive, but if I name drop places, or someone says the above sentence, many would respond with the perplexed outburst of "YOU"VE LIVED IN SWITZERLAND AND FARMED FOR FREE???" or something along those lines. Where as my response last night was a mere nod.  This is not meant to sound superior, purely observation. We can understand each other and this is why I love CS so much. I can say in Tanzania... without getting this type of undesired attention. It's analogous to computer programmers. If they start talking about HTML code I am completely lost. If they talk about a program on a Mac I will more than likely understand, but I don't understand the intricacies nor appreciation on the same level of them and on some level, it blows my mind a bit how they can manipulate things so easily just by recoding (maybe not the best analogy, but you get my drift). Ditto sports. When traveling isn't a passion/hobby of someone, they just look at these places on a map that are far away from them, as wow I can't believe you've been to XXX, but they themselves don't necessarily have a desire to go there (Please correct me if you feel differently).

You can say they might have desire, but no money, but as Aleph by Paolo Coelho states, you don't need a lot of money to travel and most of my experiences have been on the tightest budget (most less than daily living expenses). It's a matter of me making it happen and living life how I want to live it. As Switchfoot states, "This is your life. Are you who you want to be?" When people live vicariously through me going to these places, I struggle because they too could, if they wanted to and were willing to deal with (for lack of a better word) the repercussions that come along with this nomadic lifestyle.

As Henry David Thoreau states, why don't we measure life in terms of LIFE, an intangible, infinite, resource rather than wealth, a finite, materialistic resource? What is the point of me buying a house that I will be indebted to for twenty years when I can use that money to see so many places and better myself and hopefully others by doing so.Who's saying I will ever want to stay in that place long enough? Marriage to me will be a true reason to travel. I'll have a guaranteed travel companion.Forever. I'm starting to wonder if settling down will ever be a concept with which I can relate, and honestly the older I get, the more I'm okay with this and breaking out of the traditional lifestyle. I think someone (and obviously plenty of people are) can be perfectly happy working a 9 to 5 and having a family they love. I'm not saying that's any less or more than the wandering lifestyle. It's just a matter of living life, whatever that means to you. Today's challenge for you is to examine what you really want to do and make steps to DO IT! No more complaining about the shitty economy (which quite honestly is more reason to go do something since nothing is going to come from sitting here writing countless cover letters to jobs you don't usually want anyway). 
Okay off to work for me now.


  1. Thanks for reinspiring me a year and a half later, self :)

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