Somewhere in a nondescript village, an electric spark has yet to light its first tungsten bulb. On a cold, dark night, there’s nothing much to do after sunset. There is no television, no radio or cellular network. The natural thing to do is look up at the night sky. Without towering skyscrapers or street lights, the night sky resembles the dome of a planetarium. On this side, every twinkling star resembles cosmic dust. Come to think of it, on the other side, we might resemble specks of brown dust.
There are 196 countries in the world today. By the time I write this post, I’m not sure how many more or less would we have left to discover. Spread over a surface area of 510,072,000 km², 7 billion people live or try to live in varied conditions, ranging from decadent wealth to abject poverty. In an average human lifetime, if we think our best travelling years are between 20-40 age group, it might be hard to actually visit every corner or tip of our living planet. Some of us never leave our street. Some of us visit the next state. And some of us take a giant leap across the seven seas. What decides our first step? Is it a matter of choice or lifestyle or as most non-travellers would say, “luck”. What ignites the urge to wander, explore, and discover? Did it start with that first National Geographic magazine you picked or hours spent in front of a television, hoping someday you’d get there.
And when we get there, how much of what we see, actually leaves an imprint on our thought, perhaps, soul? Do we get lost in the seeing, tasting, photographing, and speaking, that we forget to observe and think. Do we belittle, abuse, reak of condescension, and move on in disgust? Or do we find our meek voice, speak up, and try to make a difference. Travel can mean so much and sometimes, so little. It can open your mind, fill the void, numb the pain, and teach you to smile, sometimes, even love. It may make you realise you’re different, but beneath it all, we’re all the same. That we waste half of our life, hating and the other half regretting. In the isolation of a mountain, the seclusion of a field, and warmth of people; it’s possible to find yourself. The lines we draw, look good in maps of school textbooks and real people are nothing like the mindless caricatures that mainstream media projects them to be. It makes you realise that a national park and urban jungle have more in common, than you thought. Domesticated over 1000 years, our species has more to learn from animals. It’s OK to skip a beat, feel fear, and surrender in the lap of nature. And no matter how human, we may claim to be; place us in a battle of survival, we will reflect our wild side.
And if travel couldn’t change a traveller, what else could? For all of us who made it, there are thousands, perhaps, millions, who didn’t. People who long, crave, and hunger for the other side. But, barely make it to the next street. Get lost in the everyday. Get lost in thinking of the next day. Fight to make it through the everyday. And although, the other side may not always look like what we thought it to be, we made it, didn’t we? Knowing that, is all that matters. Maybe. Or maybe not.