“No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles. If you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror-glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet.” – Patrick Rothfuss
I find this sort of adventure, this Great American Road Trip, is in one sense, to paraphrase Cesare Pavese: “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, the sea, the sky…” (…and everything in my truck.)
Yes, in one sense, this adventure of travel is savage and rigorous, as you’re always trying to maintain some sense of order in this nomadic lifestyle, trying to contain the potential chaos of each coming moment, not knowing, literally or figuratively, what may be around the next corner. It is “the great leveler” that forces you to re-examine who you are, how you face adversity, how you’re seen by others, how you communicate with strangers, how significant your place is in this world.
But in another sense, this sort of adventure opens your eyes to see the world anew by noticing more shades of color, discovering the seemingly infinite variety of wildlife, tasting cultural foods, seeing the world from a different, more expansive prospective and appreciating even the smallest of things, like a smile from a stranger, a hot shower or a dragonfly resting on your shoulder for a brief moment before lifting off to go touch another soul.
The adventure of travel is more than just discovering what’s around the bend, it’s a change that happens in the way we think and feel, it’s a cumulative affect that’s profound and lasting. It can happen in the split-second of looking a stranger in the eye when passing, something changes within you in that fraction of a second and in them also. This inner-change happens in staring at the ocean, in tasting a new food, in a history lesson at a museum, in hearing a new song, it’s in driving one more scenic mile and it’s in every moment we move forward in our lives. Without new adventures, no matter how slight, something within us lies dormant. We should always be motivating ourselves forward, always changing, always learning, whether at home or on the road.
The adventure of travel, “the great leveler”, helps us measure the fact that we have only a limited number days here on Earth, so we must treasure and live intentionally in every moment. Each moment, no matter how thrilling or how mundane, is a gift. “A long stretch of road”, or adventure of any kind, focuses the eyes, sharpens the intellect, expands the heart, massages the soul and reminds us that there are no ordinary moments.
I hope you treasure every moment.
The gam continues…