Real Travel: The Place Worth Going To

To be truly alive is to turn toward death without cowering. This means locking eyes with the abyss without fleeing. For sense’s sake, where do we think we’re going to go? There’s no secret escape hatch. There’s no bright exit sign. There’s France, Egypt, Tibet—these places might invigorate us. Foreign countries can impart the culture we’re so eager to experience but in the end, does it ever satisfy? So pretentious are we when we immerse ourselves into unfamiliar environments. As I’ve mentioned before, there is only one God, one story, one place to be. There’s nothing new here. The inviting, exotic lands only fully captivate the ignorant. The pretentious traveler answers the song of the beckoning sirens. You answer that call, and you’ll find yourself wandering in the desert.

We have met the hopeless wanderers. They are all around us. They’re on the prowl for new dining, new music, and new, exciting neighborhoods. Traveling in vain, they failed to learn anything or even gain a new perspective. They failed to grow spiritually and failed to ameliorate the nagging emptiness within. We cannot ameliorate this, at least not externally. We cannot treat ourselves by crossing borders and sharing the same beds. Prior to our trip, another lost wanderer slept in the same spot. After our trip concludes, another will occupy the same worn emptiness and sleep. Don’t pretend the emptiness isn’t there. When you know deep down that you’re a frail, creaking husk of a human being, you hunt for novelty.

We may believe our overvalued trips offer invaluable experiences and deserve to be cherished. We may believe we have soaked in serene landscapes and romantic settings. Judging by the state of the world, we are dreaming. We never went anywhere. The usher, named vanity, led us to our seat and behold, the curtain peeled back before our eyes. What we thought we saw, what we thought we felt actually was the theater of our own ignorance. Fortunately, a prophet may interrupt the play we are enchanted by. Tragically, the spectators swivel their heads toward the prophet and silence him. The truth, however, never scampers away. The truth was there when we gazed upon the stage and craned our necks in awe of the fireworks. The truth was there when we tapped and swiped on our phones and flew in circles across the seas.

Do we understand yet? Do we know what we are looking at? The truth may sound insane to the audience. Truth be told, the real world is insane. The world is teeming with lost wanderers chasing mirages, chasing a good show and a good cheer. Cheer on your protagonists. Just remember, when the actors take their bow and the curtain falls, you don’t go home. The curtain immediately peels back again, and we, as the audience, believe it to be all new again. The audience stays put in their seats oblivious to the fact that the characters, the plot, and the beginning and ending are identical. Eternally watching the same play, the audience never returns home. They keep shushing the prophets. They keep bursting into laughter at the same wise cracks.

Real traveling is leaving the theater and driving far away from the marketplace. Real traveling begins when we realize we didn’t go anywhere, and all we did was buy useless mementos trying to prove that we have lived. We thought we were sitting in the plane flying to our destination, but we never left the theater. We thought we were sailing toward a foreign coastline, but we were stuck eternally watching the same endearingly shallow, feel good play. I suppose that’s why there’s nothing interesting to say. We sit to watch, stand to buy, and work to keep the status quo. Real traveling is knowing the self and discovering the truth.

Theatre, Stage, Curtain

Photo by Mary Bettini Blank / Creative Commons CC0

Once we finally return home, we are permitted to enter the room of truth and goodness. This room was previously forbidden to us and naturally kept safe from the profane. The audience, writhing in their trap, watching the spectacular performance, never wanted to travel back home anyway. The audience wanted the vain, fruitless journey onward to a place that never existed. The audience knows not what they do. The audience knows not what they see. They never acquired a taste for real traveling.