Travel has always appealed to me. Not just the excitement of seeing new places, but the act of moving from one place to another. I find the potential in a journey attractive, it provides a sense of optimism or mystery about the day - even when the destination is less hopeful.
I have made trips to romantic and sexy destinations - from Rome to New York to Berlin, and the sense of exploration and discovery is palpable. Here is someting new - something to throw myself into, to bathe in the history, to wallow in the culture - and because this is me, to stuff my face with the food. Yet to me the most interesting aspect of the a new journey, or trip, is to walk around the city; to feel - through foot-fall, a sense of the pacing and rhythm of the city - the opening, the shutting, the shops, the people, the celebrations and the stresses.
Other roads lead to more familiar places - back to memories from the past, back to the recognisable yet also curiously changing icons from the past. Places where landscape is pyschic as well as physical, where emotion is geographic. Here the journey becomes more metaphorical, more personal and often - despite an abundance of natural beauty, more introspective.
Some journeys can be disasterous of course; but to me these are mainly the trips where I have to carry vast loads - as a result I prefer to travel light, meaning I feel able to respond to the problems put in my way. Makes me feel a bit Ninja-ish, like I'm in an action film or something - maybe couriering national secrects, or racing to save the world?
These are the exceptions, of course, these journeys that thrive on the anticipation of what is to come; most journeys are far more mudane, yet they also enable us to connect with the world around us. A journey to me implies that the day has been productive in some way. So even when all I've done is to go to work and back: the journey has been what has given me the impetus to create in the morning; the journey is where I write these posts; so the journey is the place where my mind can wander where it needs to go (hence the ad-hoc nature of this blog!).
Travel allows for a variety of people watching - although I'm not especially keen on jumping to conclusions. I get a flavour of the outside world - even if that flavour is unpalatable. I experience the weather, I talk to other people - I take the temperature of society.
True, travel can be exhausting and frustrating - especially when you are eager to be somewhere; but this gives drama to the day. Maybe it makes time brush past dismissively or else meander distractedly like a dawdle-er in a shopping centre, but a journey gives an opinion on the day - it is rarely neutral.
As I read through these musings, it does occur to me that I may be using imagination to enliven a placid and tedious part of the day; yet the theme of travel or the journey is often central to narrative structures. From Tom Jones to Lord of the Rings the uncertainty, difficulty and hope involved in getting from here to there - often to attempt some final feet of daring-do, has been embedded in the way we think. Travel is adversity and action, it is a part of our desire to find more about ourselves and to challenge what we already think.
Even a day spent working on a painting can be accuentuated by a brief walk - whether purposful or not, merely to contrast with time spent in my own head. It is this sense of perspective that a journey gives, enabling reflection on the home, and understanding of what you see as important. A perspective that makes the journey, not the destination, the final goal.