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– Feed your soul

June 4, 2012

Here the spring is about the best time of the year.  It’s warm, even hot on some days, but not like the summer when the days are stifling and never cool down.  In spring we sometimes have cooler, cloudy days and the nights are still comfortable enough to sleep with breezes blowing through the mosquito screens on the windows.  It’s weird because the weather really does dominate around here, whatever time of year it is.  I remember that we wanted to live closer to nature when we left Yorkshire, to set out and find our new home, but we didn’t really understand what that meant then, or what it might feel like.  There the only time the weather affected us was in a snowy winter when roads were closed and no one could go anywhere.  It was exciting, I’d always wanted to get snowed in and it did happen.  Here though, no matter what the season the weather is always number one.  The excessive heat of summer, the cold winter winds, and the wild autumnal storms with their torrential rain, there’s always something to watch out for, a danger to prepare for.  Maybe that’s why I don’t feel the urge to go anywhere, but stay safely and comfortably at home.  Maybe it’s that or perhaps it’s because we took so long to find our home the notion of travelling anywhere now just brings back memories of when we didn’t have one.  Or because it’s just so lovely here, why would we want to go anywhere else?

I’ve been thinking about it lately, travelling, because several people we know have been telling us of their plans to go off to far away places and I have been trying to understand why these conversations have left me unimpressed.  I didn’t feel excited for them or get the urge to pack my bags, why was that?  After all, in modern day ‘cool currency’ isn’t being a traveller way up there?  Everyone wants to be a traveller, don’t they?  Well, apparently everyone apart from me.  I’ve been wondering if this lack of urge has got something to do with people earnestly believing that their lives will be changed by their travelling.  That people will see them differently?  Yes, definitely people will see them differently, they’ll be seen as coolsters, hip beyond hipness, but why?  Surely anyone can buy a ticket to an outlandish destination, does that make them changed as people?   I don’t think so.  My other thought was about the insides and the outsides of people, insides being the real person and outsides just what others see.  Surely to change your life you need to change something about your inside, to make some sort of personal effort don’t you?  Have thoughts?  Change how you live?  Set out to do or achieve something?  Perhaps this simply going somewhere far away and saying ‘look at me’ is what gets my goat.  It’s as if a life changing holiday is just another thing on the consumers ‘must have’ list of purchases.

While I was mulling these thoughts I was drawn to the bookcase again.  Had I not recently read somewhere, someone else’s thoughts about travelling?  Yes I had:

At a time when everyone seems to be tripping off on a prestige vacation to New Zealand or Tibet, I’d rather not compete.  Travel to foreign countries always feels sort of sad and voyeuristic to me anyhow.  To truly enjoy a place and feel I’ve got the right to be there, I have to be able to imagine myself living there.

(Barton Sutter – Cold Comfort, Life at the Top of the Map)

Now that strikes a chord with me, good old Bart Sutter, he manages to un-jumble all those thoughts and ideas tumbling about in my empty head.  The sad voyeuristic thing reminded me of seeing holiday makers in the Algarve, plodding miserably around in the heat, looking lost and out of place.  Holidays really are misery-making for all the people involved, especially the locals whose once quiet rural place has been buried under concrete.  And it’s not even just about package holiday makers, what about those people who go and climb Everest?  Obviously in search of their life changing experience and then leaving the place full of litter and rubbish.  Horrible.  I have absolutely started to believe that some places should be left alone.  High mountains, deep seas, cold icy places, really, just let them be.

Yes, I know it’s all very well for me to tell people they can’t go on holiday when I live somewhere like this, but.  But, our finally arriving here was the result of many years real, life changing thought and struggle.  We gave up a particular kind of life and put a lot of effort into making a new one.  I don’t think we’re special, anyone can do it and the sense of achievement is definitely far greater than an overland trip to Outer Mongolia.  After all, at some point travellers to all exotic destinations have to come home.  Real life changing action means you never have to.  You make your new life and never go back to the old one.

Here’s another bit of Bart Sutter:

…..I drove this road some thirty years ago, with an older cousin who went on to work as an ornithologist in Ecuador or Borneo.  Northern Minnesota is exotic enough for me.  Travel, they keep telling me, is broadening.  But I don’t want to be broad.  I’m after depth.

The brain insists on novelty, constant stimulation, but the soul desires the same old thing, renewed again and again.

I know now I’m after depth.  Really that’s the thing.  I realise that telling friends I’m going for depth therefore, staying home, is not going to ring those cool chimes but maybe a new trend can be set.  I reckon it’s about time to think soulfully and not take the holiday that you think will change your life. Why not join the new trendsetters, stay home and work on your soul.

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