The Secret Every Traveller Carries

To travel through a place could mean anything, or even be totally meaningless. You could have been that business traveler who had their nose stuck in their laptop through the entire journey, barely looking up to acknowledge the concierge who would seamlessly move them into the next bubble where work could continue. With their head in their business, and their bodies being handed over from one care giver to another, the business traveler knows much about a place, and yet nothing at all. As much or as little as the vagabond, who travels to discover themselves. Their head up in the clouds, or even all a-cloud, their sense of wonder so keen that even the obvious and the commonsensical acquires an aura that it does not deserve. A haze so deep that all that they see around them is coloured by it, and their need to bring meaning, their own meaning to it. That is their quest.

For others, that just might be their failing. They travel to see the world, but they are mere visitors. They bring their own meaning to everything they see. You see them everywhere, gazing upon new sights just as they gazed upon the old. They pass through, noting what they see, and yet not what they will not see. They too are guests, careful to pass through but not make anything their own. There are those, then, who touch every shiny object they pass, that has been touched before, and they must mark it to show the others who come after them how important they are because they have been touched. They are tourists who must be on their way, they have itineraries and places to be, things to touch.

Then there are those of us who travel, who float in and out of ourselves, tempted at every turn – we follow the piper’s tune. We become one with where we are, not realising that we may lose ourselves to the siren song. Anything could call us, and we would be there, listening to the stories from beyond. A mighty river, rising through rock and gorge, twisting seductively and disappearing beyond the bend. A tantalising spray of mist cast to call us yonder, she might beckon. Some of us will give in, seduced by the moment, some of us will answer the call, and walk as she wills, by her side. We will be in thrall, and walk away from it all, just to be with her. She will twist and she will loop, glinting at us through sun and shine, and we will smile with her. We would have walked miles away from our selves in that one moment when she looked at us invitingly, we would have traveled endlessly in that moment, not realising that we were just that – travellers. But she would know, and she would send us back to ourselves, back to the place where we began.

We would now look like all the others who had only come to visit, and we would pretend to be one of them. Were we not the practiced traveler, well versed in the ways of the world? We would rejoin the race for the sights we had seen – the mightiest river, the tallest peak, the widest bend, the largest crossing, the curviest road and more. We would look like all of them, the guests, the tourists, the visitors. But we were not them, for we had known our river, our mountain, our view. Our flowers had sung to us, and we had breathed in the sun. We carried them with us, like secret lovers: once you have kissed so deep you can never really leave. Because, for that one moment, you have become the other. You have traveled to their very being, and they have into yours. That path you walk, that monument you admire, it was yours, and only yours for that moment when you traveled it. Your feet were sure, your stories true for the stones spoke to you. You knew their soul and they had seen yours, you were one for a moment. You were the traveler, and you were transformed.

And as you go back to your daily life, you know nothing will be mundane again.

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