Travelers are wretched by nature. They leave the community in which they have a place, to visit ones in which they do not. In these unfamiliar communities, they rely on traditions that respect the stranger, and guard against the traditions that don't. Rest is only ever partial and trust more often built on hope than knowledge. The traveler's joys are solitary emotions, impossible to share fully in spite of tales and pictures. They are strangers moving among strangers. Return to the original community to be known again is never possible, for communities thrive on shared experience. While away, the traveler changes in different directions than the community. The traveler brings only the uncanny back with him: interesting at arm's length, but ever threatening to those who remained. Travelers are wretched by nature.
And yet travelers are the happiest of people. They leave the burdens of community for the freedom of the road. Every step is new and fresh. As the traveler moves from place to place, every problem can be left behind and forgotten and every joy recorded and remembered in some way. Every new place offers unexpected excitement and challenges without the weight of any responsibility except the personal. Traveler are unburdened while seeking hidden joys, and so they are the happiest of people.
There is no synthesis of the happiness and sadness of traveling. Traveling is a coin, not a Moebius strip. But there can be resolution for the traveler. While there is no return home, there are new homes only among other stopped travelers. There is community among people who no longer belong to their origins. Travelers form a third culture, neither the one they left, nor the one they visited, but something between composed of portions equal to the time spent in each place.
How few of us live in stable, unchanging single community? How few of us remain untraveled? How few of us have not visited much of the world virtually through films and books? How many of us consider the traveler to be suspicious instead of a curious new person to visit? So we are all travelers, awkward to some degree in defining just what community in which we're a member. With our doors and windows open to the rest of the world, our houses are losing definition, breaking into fragments of communities. We belong to a church, a club, have a job, know our neighbors, and have our friends and each defines a totally separate micro-community. When switch jobs, we lose one work community and move to a new one. We are all travelers, whether physically mobile or not, wretched and happy to the extent we can feel comfortable in our current set of communities. I always hate it when I find opposites are really much the same thing.
And when I spin too much of this thoughtful and pretentious nonsense in an attempt to bring sense and humility to my mind, I engage my feet in a good long walk out of the house, down the driveway and past the people who know me for better or worse.
And so I shall start telling travel stories again: some actual, some imagined, good ripping yarns, ponderous self-indulgent sludge, amusing fluff and the occasionally plain-spoken tale. I promise to post at least once a month. And I hope you tune in again.