Monday, April 21, 2008

Lose Yourself

Did you ever notice how travelling is an expansive process? How many times have you heard: “A whole world of possibilities, “Find yourself”, even, “Lose yourself”. Travel provides new experiences and new opportunities to do things you normally don’t, see things you normally don’t, eat things you normally don’t, maybe that’s why its called a “foreign” experience. All of this novelty leads to an evolving, expansive, creative, space; and all of that room feels very big and lets you grow, relax, find yourself, and lose yourself. This is the cycle; new to old and old to new that is mirrored in all things.

Consider this – I recently returned from a sojourn to East Kalimantan. I didn’t know why I was going except to try and visit some of the last “virgin” Rainforest left in Indonesia. Naturally I had a little planning to do since this was not an area I could just walk out of the airport and jump a taxi to arrive. This is the part of travel where the expansion begins. I had this kernel of an idea, a thought for a trip, and suddenly I am on the playing field of the imagination, because it is all new to me. The opportunities become endless once you begin to look. This can be overwhelming and stressful because you realize you can’t control all of the variables no matter how much you invest. You might miss the MAF missionary fight into the jungle because they only fly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There might not even be a flight because they are out of fuel, or the plane may be grounded due to towering rainy season thunderheads. And these are just the things that cross your mind. What about all the other options that you don’t even think of because you are not even aware of them as possibilities. That is travel expanding. The relaxing part comes when you realize that you have no control, and you just start to go with the flow. That is also travel expanding, and the completion of the cycle, new to old to new again that your body and mind spin through on your trip. It feels like we already took a ten-hour bus ride and we haven’t even left the station. So, let’s GO!

I walk off the plane or boat, and it’s a totally “new” world, even if I have seen the video already. New sights, smells, sounds, and languages - just the pure physical reality id different than anything I have ever seen. Yes, cities are cities, and jungles are jungles, but only on the surface. Dive in, and the world expands exponentially. You can take a taxi, or and angkot, or walk. You can stay in a 5-star or a loseman. You can eat from a street cart or a warung. And you can go anywhere from there. By boat, plane, walk, bike, hike, to jungle, ocean, gunung, city, sunghai. And the people are all new - Dayak, Tarakanian, Paupauin, Indonesian, ex-pat Bule, every single one of them a new face in the sea of six billion plus that I never even dreamed of before. Travel obeys fractal laws where you enter an endless maze that only gets deeper and wider the more you explore. But on the surface, a Hyatt is a Hyatt, and a warung is a warung, and a becak driver is a becak driver. Its funny like that – it is all the same, but it’s all different, and that cycle just keeps spinning. Travel is an experience in this paradox, to be experienced, not figured out. Wet and dry, new and old, big and small, city and jungle, 5 star and stilt house, ferry and ces, the examples are everywhere, and travel transports us back and forth between the ends of the spectrum. Travel reveals its fractal nature right here – from one angle it feels like pure motion and movement, but from another its just running in place. Travel is both movement and stillness, so beautifully wrapped together that the perception changes only as the perspective changes – like viewing a prism or hologram. Step to the left, it looks like Indonesia, step right and it looks like someplace else, and no matter how many times we go back and forth, we always find ourselves, or lose ourselves, somewhere in the center.

1 comment:

Jean-Jacques said...

Excellent post! J.J.