"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."

"Sailed not as a seaman, but as a traveler..."- Sir Thomas More's Utopia

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why fly when I can walk?


Image: Cell phone shot of Chicago skyline from the city's famed "EL"

I have finally made it to the other side of the country. From California to the New York Islands, just like the song. It's been a whirlwind two weeks. I have driven cross-country before, but boy was this trip different. Now that I've made it back to New York, I hope it will begin slowing down a bit so I can finally get some serious writing in (this blog and a few other projects I'm working on).

To me, road trips are at the very heart of traveling. To get up and move yourself from one physical location to another, not to see the sights, but to meet people and to experience things other than those which have become routine. Sure, I could have flown to New York and it would have taken five hours instead of two weeks. But where's the adventure in that? Road trips allow you the experience of space, of the largeness of the world, of the smallness of your existence. Road tripping is traveling is learning of the awe that fills our surroundings.

It is so easy to get caught up in ourselves and our daily lives, to forget to look up and around. It is so incredibly easy to lose perspective. Travel resets our perspective and reminds us what awe feels like.

Taking a plane would have robbed me of feeling the gradual changes between state lines, of the rhythm of roads zooming underneath the gas pedal. I would not have met the wild, mad people that span the entire length of America, filling the air with their heavy, humid breaths - each one full of ideas to reinvigorate the spirit.

Before I left San Francisco, seeing the wanderlust in my eyes, a friend shared with me the words of French explorer Alexandra David-Neel. No doubt, it would be appropriate to use her words for the closing of this post.

"Travel not only stirs the blood — it also gives birth to the spirit."