Travelling tastes amazing. Discovering new places makes me feel beautiful. Preparing my luggage is such a thrill. Putting a foot onto an uncharted territory is a gift of fierceness that I cannot describe. I am blessed I have been given such chance to travel by destiny, as well as I am learning not to take it for granted.
We all are used to quote Thomas Eliot “the journey not the arrival matters”, don’t we? And that’s true, given the efforts we all pay to organize the trip. Collecting information, buying books, watching pictures, buying specific necessities, booking all sorts of reservations (or not…for the super adventurous ones!), learning new languages. Should I list some “travel basics” I would bullet point all the above.
What if I want to go a little bit deeper on this topic, instead? Quote number two comes to my aid. It’s from Cesare Pavese, and it’s a very straight point of view: “traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” I’ve never read anything more honest than that, and I think it perfectly complements Eliot’s more evocative saying, by adding a very touch of realism and concreteness that travellers always seem to forget, overwhelmed by vanity and FOMO. Because everyone is much more vulnerable if taken away from his or her context, and I am no exception.
When I was younger I used to put my travel destinations one near the other in a sort of game of comparison that now I consider pretty childish (but some attitudes, even if wrong, can be forgiven when one’s young, no?). Getting older, I grew a different (wiser, perhaps?) perspective, so now I do layer my travel destinations instead. I have been gifted of an upgraded awareness that does not only refer to the eyes with which I see a place, but that’s mostly about myself.
Where does the journey starts? At airports and railway stations, mostly. Modern wonderlands, where you start to savor freedom, to get rid of all the unnecessary stuffs that apparently are so necessary during your everyday and boring life. Oh! Airports and railway stations glitter. Airports and railway stations enchant just like the Sirens did with Ulysses. Funny I can’t seem to have ever heard an expression like “as beautiful as an airport/as a railway station”… but that’s another story…
But before landing or arriving somewhere (the journey, not the destination…remember?) we must step on a plane or on a train, and… aisle, middle or window? Because you have three possible seats, and you choose one. Why that particular one?
I am pretty sure the majority of people would opt for the window. So do I! (I know I’m so pretty average, sometimes). There you can regain both the privacy that the modern, super connected world deprived you of, and your right to daydream, having your head in the clouds (if you’re on a plane, that’s literal). Calling all dreamers of all sorts, here!
I consider the aisle as the choice of those who are always in a hurry, so basically businessmen who are counting down the minutes to land to catch a taxi to attend a meeting to show numbers, underestimating the magic fact that they are flying or going at an impressive speed! Not to forget that only if you have your seat there, you can stretch your legs with comfort. Both cases, it’s all about independence and liberty.
The middle seat is a limbo. As such, it’s much more charming and mysterious. Squashed between two very different worlds (the dreamer and the independence-loving one). With no privacy. Chosen by the one who’s not ashamed to let the other two see the book he or she’s reading, or the music he or she’s listening to. Not afraid to exchange some words with his or her neighbors if he or she wants to stand up and exit his or her place for a while. Maybe he/she can experience a sense of loneliness, “trapped” between two different personalities, but that self-imposed confinement can lead to think and to develop thoughts and points of view. Reflective type, I salute you.
I have always thought that travelling is extremely hard and beautiful at the same time. It is the scariest, most rewarding and energizing experience, three in one! It is then so powerful, because it transforms yourself and the way you see others and every other thing. And (hopefully) makes you modest. Because we all occupy a very small seat in the world.
Pictures by me