20 December 2020

On the Passion for Travel and the Changing World


Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley

My mother recently sent me something regarding a pilgrimage letter by a woman named Egeria. It's about her insatiable desire to make a religious trek to Israel and document her experience for people she left at home. The author used her venture as the premise of his article which focused on people's need... no, passion to go out and see the world, to know unknown places, and journey beyond familiar horizons. 

Of course, my mother thought of me when she came across this in some of her Bible studies. Most people associate travel with a vacation. For Egeria, this is a way of life and a means to an end. Travel, in and of itself, is not the main goal. Her desire was not the journey... at least not as I interpret it. The goal was Israel. The means was the pilgrimage. Ergo, travel is the means to accomplish her objective.

Art Model, Jenny Copyright 2019 Terrell Neasley

Sometimes it is solely about the destination. I've often said, the only thing that sucks about travel is the actual travel. In so many cases this is true. Unless you have posh means to do so, that will be the reality of the majority who don't. The experiences WHILE you travel are the moments that make the reality of travel worthwhile. The culmination of the destination and the experiences enroute will dictate whether you chose to endure the travel again. 

This time last year, I had returned to the US after two months in Argentina and a few weeks in Peru. I can tell you that flying through four countries and having to check in AND out of immigration and customs at each country sucked! Waiting in the long cattle lines to check in for your flight or get your visa stamped blows! The constant aggravation of wondering if you'll make your next flight and knowing there is a real and valid possibility you won't can be daunting. 

Art Model, @Athena Demos ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Or, how about taking a 14-hour shuttle that is filled beyond the seating capacity. Yes, this is the case. I've watched a woman trying to maintain some dignity while sitting in the lap of a man she had never met before. Six hours in, you would have thought they were a married couple as she slept in his arms.

No, it's not always like that. I've had some pleasant experiences as well, and its usually because I had good company that made it all bearable. Although rare, there have been some circumstances where my means of travel was notably and memorably pleasant for one reason or another. I do not count on those situations being a regular occurrence.

I like to call this one, "The Schwarzenegger"
Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley

Nonetheless, it is the passion for travel that makes us endure any of the hardships. Otherwise, I would have come home a long time ago instead of nearing 3 years on the road. Like Egeria, I try to document my experiences and write about the people I meet, cultures I learn about, and the myriad of unique places I visit and explore. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but let me be frank with you. A thousand words will never let you understand the uncertainty of sitting on cargo on the back of a commercial fishing boat in the middle of an unexpected storm at sea because its the only thing going out to the island you need to get to. An album of photos will not help you track the line of choices that led you to say yes to a group of Nicaraguan bikers when they ask you to go on an adventure with them 10 minutes after you meet them. And nothing the world has to offer will help you understand the feeling of abject loneliness that makes you question your decision to stay in a foreign country during a global pandemic. 

You must travel on your own and have your own experiences. Yours will be unique from mine. I have almost died on occasion... occasionS would be more accurate. But this is no more different than the same things that happens around you every day already. People  have traffic accidents, get robbed, and for one reason or another, people die every day. The world is changing. People are working and being educated remotely. The covers are being pulled back on a different way of life. New opportunities are afforded to more people to move beyond the traditional, the ordinary, and societal norms. How will you adjust, in order to, not just compete, but thrive? Will you continue to make buggy whips and then complain about losing your job?

Art Model, Jenny Copyright 2019 Terrell Neasley

I made a photobook once, called "Where I Have Been". I made it exclusively for my mother, because I know she will not ever get to see the top of a mountain. Therefore, I wanted her to see from the eyes of her own blood the world from a high above overlooking the magnitude of an immense valley. She does not see well. I will not get her to climb a mountain with me. However, now she can have a perspective of the world from eyes that she gave birth to. 

My point is that I know everybody can't do this. But there are many of you who have great eyes AND knees! You have your youthfulness, vigor, health, or whatever. Anthony Bourdain suggested to sleep on the floor if you have to, but find a way to travel! I'm not exceptional, but I know every one can't be like me. I made the choice to dump everything and be gone in pretty much a single day around the beginning of November of 2017. By January 7th, I was flying. That's drastic for a lot of people. I get that. That's just who I am. 

Art Model, @Athena Demos ©2019 Terrell Neasley

And I'm not even suggesting you travel right now! Or even outside the US, for that matter. What I am saying is that with the changing world, you can begin preparations NOW! You can make changes and learn the habits that will allow for a different lifestyle. If you do have a passion for travel, I can't think of a better time in your life than right now to begin. If you want my advice, don't worry about the money. Worry about getting rid of DEBT!! If you did want to travel right this very second, then yeah... it's possible. Many countries are opening up again, even for US citizens. It's a pain... but then again, I just told you that's the nature of travel. 

The world is changing. What changes are you willing to make?